From all accounts, US President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have already met at least twice, even if only by phone. The two seem to have hit it off with their latest chat leading to an invitation for Mr. Duterte to visit Mr. Trump in Washington sometime in the near future. Meanwhile, the POTUS will likely visit Manila towards the end of this year. What is not yet clear is if either trip will take the form of a state visit.
There is little to indicate that the two gents have much in common. One spent his adult life creating vast wealth for himself based on his real estate projects. The other is a lawyer who has been in politics for the longest time and earned a reputation for eradicating crime (and criminals) in his turf even at the expense of law and order.
In local speak, one could have easily been little more than a kanto boy from the mean streets of Tondo who made good, while the other was the male equivalent of a Pinay colegiala who grew up in an exclusive Makati village and went to school in Ateneo or La Salle.
The one common denominator they have is that their fathers paved the way for their business/political success.
So what will happen when the two leaders finally meet face-to-face?
That may well be the biggest question of the day. While the respective diplomats of both nations will take care of all the formalities, there will be a few moments when Messrs. Trump and Duterte will be facing each other mano-a-mano. They will have to drop the usual niceties and talk shop.
Both are known to have an eye for the ladies. The American has been thrice married, while the Filipino has had an equal if not greater number of life partners. The man called Digong has been officially married once, but that ended a long time ago. Even today, he makes no secret of the fact that he still enjoys nocturnal female companionship.
Both are in their 70s, by the way, which means that their best years as bedroom studs are far behind them. But they can recall their past conquests, real or imagined, then debate which is better, Viagra or Cialis.
They could also discuss their favorite communist buddies. Mr. Trump has his Russian best buddy Vladimir Putin, while Mr. Duterte has Chinese President Xi Jinping as his new friend for life.
If their talks turn serious, they may discuss a certain rogue state whose fat boy leader has become a friendless pariah. Perhaps, in secret, they may nervously laugh at that Asian leader’s fixation for launching missiles every so often. They may even agree that he is probably overcompensating for something or another.
Then they may turn to their favorite pet peeve, media. They will curse and rant and rave about the unfair treatment they are getting from print and broadcast journalists, who in their eyes are little more than lying hacks anyway.
The Pinoy head of state could give his US counterpart tips on how to handle those pesky media moguls like banning government ads from their publications – which another Philippine chief executive had done previously – or even blocking their franchise to operate.
What the two will not be doing is exchanging toasts, as the billionaire businessman-turned-president does not imbibe in any form of alcohol, not even wine. His Philippine counterpart is not exactly a teetotaller but health issues prevent him from imbibing too much.
Speaking of health, the big and beefy Trump looks to be in much better shape than the smallish Duterte. The former is an avid golfer while the latter has not been known to hit the links even if it is to just unwind.
One ugly word that they will both scoff at is impeachment.
Although he has been in office for little more than 100 days, there has already been talk of legally removing Mr. Trump through impeachment. Ditto with Mr. Duterte. But both know that such a move is not likely to prosper. Both have their respective congresses in the palms of their hands, so why worry?
If all goes well, a bromance can blossom between the two gentlemen, if they can be called that. Despite all their differences, both still end each day by looking at the mirror and thinking out loud: “I’m the president! Whoohoo!”
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