POSTSCRIPT: The most influential curmudgeon
ALWAYS RIGHT NOW - Alex Almario (The Philippine Star) - April 1, 2017 - 12:00am

I had Hepatitis B once. It wasn’t fun. I had fever so intense that my limbs cramped up all at once. I threw up every four hours. I got tired so quickly and fell asleep before 8 p.m. every night. I had my blood taken every week, and by my fourth blood test, I had the dotted forearms of a heroin junkie. I wasn’t just sick, I got really sick of being sick.

It was the sickest I had been of anything in my life. That is, until Duterte became president of this great slipshod nation of ours and decided to inundate the country with his existence. Now I’d gladly go back to those jaundiced, liver-diseased days if it meant not hearing or seeing him ever again.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but the President is on TV almost every day. And because he’s on TV almost every day, he’s on the Internet almost every day. I wish he wasn’t because he tends to say a lot of very unpleasant things. We’re talking an inordinate amount of unpleasant things on a nearly daily basis here. Duterte is the Russell Westbrook of upsetting sound bites.

It certainly doesn’t help that he says these awful things in a voice that — how should I put this — sounds the way a 6 p.m. MRT train car with a busted air conditioner in the middle of April smells like. I get depressed just catching a whiff of his voice from a distant TV sometimes, even if I can’t make out what he’s saying. It’s really bad. If you’ve ever wondered what someone who has perpetual diarrhea would sound like, then just listen to this dude talk and you get the general idea.

The Voice of the Philippines

I shouldn’t even have intimate knowledge of how terrible Duterte’s voice is if he just behaved like a normal president. Or person. But the dude won’t shut up. Does he think he’ll drop dead if he goes through an entire day without talking into a microphone? Did he make a deal with the devil where he gets to be president as long as he never shuts up or else his heart stops working? Because that’s the only way his ongoing Bataan Death March of unending speeches makes sense. People way smarter than I am believe that this is a classic fascist ploy – making the outrageous commonplace through sheer repetition. But I don’t know, man. I think Duterte’s mouth is like that bus in the movie Speed — It might literally explode if he stops.

I’m old enough to vividly remember the five presidents before him and I swear to God none of them were right up at my face every single day. I remember a time when having a president was a fact that you could ignore for an entire 24-hour span. You could go through full days getting work done, running some errands, and talking to people without ever going, “Oh, the President said something messed up again.”

I know what you’re going to say: We didn’t have Internet or news channels then. You’re right, Captain Obvious, but we had all those things when Noynoy Aquino was president and I’m pretty sure we weren’t subjected to his stupid voice every damn day. A lot of politicians have annoying voices — Noynoy sounds like Butthead from Beavis and Butthead, except he’s never funny; Mar Roxas sounds like an indignant customer whose order is taking too long; Miriam Santiago, God bless her soul, sounded like a drunken stray cat. But none of these people talked endlessly as if in a perpetual state of ranting.

Duterte, on the other hand, exists as a ubiquitous loop of awful sounds. He’s like if Macarena and Gangnam Style had a baby and it grew up to become a president who talked like an insult comic with no sense of humor. That’s why I don’t trust anyone who is still aggressively singing his praises to this day. You could be the biggest Carly Rae Jepsen fan in the world and still get a little tired of Run Away With Me if you listened to it at least twice a day since last June. There’s no way genuine love for Our Dear Leader can sustain a blog or Facebook page or a Facebook page that still mysteriously thinks it’s a blog.

I know Duterte is supposed to be charismatic — although I don’t know how you can still find him charismatic in April 2017 — but it’s not like he has the enduring charm of a cute pop star with a catchy pop song. In fact, he is the complete opposite of “cute” and “pop star,” while his speeches are 4,000 miles beyond the opposite of a catchy pop song.

Why can't he STFU?

If you really think about it, literally no one benefits from Duterte talking all the damn time. His critics find him grating, his supporters are growing tired of him, the economy continues to plummet, and the dude is too old to be traveling all the time and being exposed to 38-degree weather just to yell about stuff. Not even the political opportunists to whom his voice rings like cash registers would want that for their septuagenarian meal ticket. So I don’t know what we’re doing anymore.

Holy Week is coming and I’ve never been so psyched about it since the days when the country was still capable of completely shutting down. We might be getting the longest stretch of Duterte silence since he became president, unless, of course, he decides to issue a Maundy Thursday statement about how priests are hypocrites and that Jesus would’ve been fine with his war on drugs or whatever surreal hate-cocktail pops in his head that day. But I really hope he does take the week off. And I hope that, in that silence, he finally gets the space and time to have some epiphanies like, “Maybe people getting killed at a wartime rate is bad and maybe I have the power to stop this thing.” You know, basic human thoughts like that. I don’t actually believe that will happen, by the way. Constant exposure to his voice has sucked all the optimism out of my soul.

As of this writing, Duterte leads Time magazine’s online poll of the 100 most influential people in the world. A lot of netizens are upset about this (and at being called “netizens”) but I find it very accurate. I don’t know what it’s like in other countries, but from where I live, my president influences the way I feel, the way I think, the way my brain hums when I’m alone with my thoughts, the way my sphincter tightens every time I check my investments, the way my heart sinks every time I see the initials E-J-K on the news, the way food tastes, the way the sun looks so tantalizing, destined as it is to swallow the earth whole someday. So yeah, Duterte deserves to win that thing.

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Tweet the author @colonialmental.

 

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