Actor-senator turns camera-shy
MANILA, Philippines —Sen. Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr., who was an actor before he ran for public office, is no stranger to bright lights and red carpets.
But in the first State of the Nation address (Sona) he attended since he was acquitted of plunder for pocketing pork barrel funds, Revilla seemingly turned camera-shy.
Revilla and his wife, Bacoor Mayor Lani Mercado, skipped the red carpet when they arrived at the North Wing of the Batasang Pambansa to attend President Rodrigo Duterte’s fourth address to the nation.
After going through the security check, they veered toward the left-hand side, away from the media and TV cameras.
Earlier in the day, Revilla told reporters at the Senate that he felt vindicated and happy about being back at the legislature.
He also said he was raring to return to work. He harbored no bitterness and was not out for vengeance, he added. —Leila B. Salaverria
While protesters chanted “Atin ang Pinas” on Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde was singing a different song.
Along with Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar of the National Capital Region Police Office and Brig. Gen. Joselito Esquivel of the Quezon City Police District, Albayalde serenaded fellow officers and reporters with Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight.”
The police officers sang karaoke-style at PNP’s command post near St. Peter’s Parish on the northbound lane of Commonwealth Avenue on Monday morning. A band played in the background.
The karaoke was set up at the post to help ease the stress of patrolling policemen during Mr. Duterte’s fourth Sona.
More than 14,000 officers from different parts of Metro Manila were deployed on Commonwealth Avenue. About 8,500 men were stationed near the Batasang Pambansa complex. —Nikka G. Valenzuela
Either actor Philip Salvador was already pissed when he arrived at the Batasan Complex to hear the President’s annual speech or he had not yet shaken off a character he was playing earlier.
Salvador was walking the red carpet with fellow actors Robin Padilla and Bayani Agbayani when reporters covering the event asked him to face the cameras.
The question was clearly harmless: “What did the actors expect President Duterte to say during his speech?”
“Let’s ask Kuya Ipe,” an evasive but effusive Padilla said, and gave way to Salvador.
“Simple lang. Ginagawa naman ng pangulo natin ang lahat para sa ikabubuti ng bansa, para sa ikabubuti ng bawat Pilipino pero binabatikos pa rin s’ya,” the multiawarded actor said.
The actor’s face suddenly turned dark and his tone of voice changed.
“Sa inyo pong lahat na bumabatikos, mamatay kayong lahat,” he shouted in front of the camera, before shifting to a gentler tone to add, “Salamat po.”
The actor then walked away, leaving Padilla in an awkward moment with the journalists.
“I love you, Kuya Ipe,” Padilla shouted to his friend.
“Mga kababayan, napakagulo na po ng mundo. Wala nang pinakamaganda kundi magkaisa na tayo,” he added in an apparent effort to save the situation. —Catherine Yamsuan
New hat for Duterte aide
From being the undisputed “national photobomber,” Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Monday formally took on a new hat as one of the country’s newly minted senators, a rare feat he himself attributed to the enormous popularity of his boss, President Rodrigo Duterte.
Before the opening of the 18th Congress, the President’s longtime aide admitted that he still could not believe that he would be sitting next to some of the country’s seasoned politicians at the maiden plenary session of the Senate.
“The people have given me so much. I did not expect that I will become senator,” Go told reporters.
“It feels different. [It’s] exciting. I am always ready to serve the Filipino people,” he added. —Marlon Ramos
Three Bayan Muna party list representatives took advantage of the red carpet event right before the President’s Sona to highlight the plight of contractual workers and fishermen caught in the maritime conflict between the Philippines and China.
Rep. Carlos Zarate wore barong with a painting by Maria Sol Taule on its torso.
The artwork shows a fishing vessel from China’s maritime militia, the country’s red flag flying prominently above it, harassing a banca full of Filipino fishermen.
The fishermen, though clearly at a disadvantage, are shown either with raised fists or holding up what appear to be placards. The Philippine flag is also shown above the banca.
The painting has clouds hovering above the two vessels while the water below them has dark and turbulent waves.
Taule, in a Twitter message posted before the Sona, explained: “Hindi namin hihintayin na lumuhod ang mga tala, ipaglalaban namin ang dagat, o maging mga tala, araw at soberanya ng Pilipinas na inaangkin ng Tsina.”
“Atin ang Pilipinas, China layas,” her post added, echoing a slogan of anti-China protesters.
To support his position against Chinese incursion, Zarate brought along a fisherman from Zambales province whom he identified as Ka Bobby.
The fisherman sported a white long-sleeved barong. A painting on the right side of the shirt depicts China as a voracious red octopus. The left side of Ka Bobby’s shirt has Filipino fishermen facing the octopus while trying to survive a tsunami.
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat stood out in her colorful red poncho with yellow, white and black geometric highlights patterned after traditional “lumad” designs.
Her outfit was meant to highlight the situation of lumad who are experiencing harassment from government forces.
Ferdinand Gaite, a neophyte Bayan Muna lawmaker, brought along a young girl named Geraldine, a dismissed Pepmaco worker, to bring attention to the plight of contractual workers.
Geraldine donned a white long-sleeved blouse that features distressed-looking male and female workers, both carrying hammers above their heads.
Pepmaco (Peerless Products Manufacturing Corp.) figured in recent news reports after masked men allegedly attacked their picket line late last month. —Catherine Yamsuan
The terno reigned supreme on the red carpet for the President’s fourth Sona. Many of the female guests opted to pair their terno tops with shin- or floor- length skirts in jewel tones like emerald green, fuchsia or chartreuse.
Embellishments on the bodice and skirt came in the form of floral or metallic appliqués, lace inserts or beaded outlines.
Others like Antique Rep. Loren Legarda wore theirs with pants in a contrasting color and pattern.
Designer Michael Leyva created Legarda’s look. This fresh take on the terno was also seen on Audrey Zubiri, wife of Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, whose Ito Curata look consisted of a side-tied top with wide-leg pants.
Designer JC Buendia experimented with this pairing at the last TernoCon and said that it had become a “common request because the tops can later on be mixed and matched with pants or a different skirt.”
He created the traditional terno worn by Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, wife of Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano.
Mindanao fabrics and distinct beading were also on display. Rep. Cristal Bagatsing wore a red terno by designer Jojie Lloren embellished with both Ilokano “inabel” fabric and Mindanao “malong” insertions.
Marga Nograles, wife of Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, wore a shin-length terno with T’boli pattern beading by Kaayo designer Bobby Castillo.
“This collaboration came about at the recent Hijos de Davao ball where 12 designers were asked to create pieces inspired by the 12 Mindanao tribes,” Representative Nograles said.
While most of the male guests chose to stick to unadorned barong Tagalog or those with minimal details, others saw it as a canvas on which they could promote their advocacies like the plight of the Filipino fishermen whose boat was wrecked by Chinese sailors.
Others carried fans with slogans like “Tuparin Ang Pangako” and “Serbisyo sa Tao” or button pins that read “Stop the Attacks.”
At the north wing of the House of Representatives, Sen. Imee Marcos was the last to arrive in an orange, red and gold gown with golden tamburin swags by Mak Tumang. —Raoul J. Chee Kee
Seized sashes, props
Members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) seized props that were supposed to have been worn by militant lawmakers and their guests during the Sona.
The PSG confiscated sashes and props bearing protest messages that were intended as clothing ornaments for Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago and her guests, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite and Gabriela Rep. Arlene Brosas.
These bore paintings that called for the protection of national sovereignty, to stop the spate of killings in the country, and to end contractualization.
Brosas’ fan was printed with the message: “Serbisyo sa Tao, Huwag gawing Negosyo (Service for the people, not for profit).” —Melvin Gascon
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