One gloomy afternoon while absent mindedly browsing Facebook, an event popped up! Usually at my age, FB events would often be invitations to weddings, baptisms, anniversaries and such. But this event – General Assembly & Concert for a Cause for Rody Duterte Supporters OFW in Malaysia – heck yeah, I would totally trade IT fair for this. “Time to be patriotic!” I said then clicked the I’m Totally Going button. And what’s more, it’s just a parachute from the condo to the basement floor. “Sorry, Pacquiao – I’ll catch up with you on replay” I thought as I passed by about 6 big TVs in Piccadilly.
Disclaimer: This blog post is created to describe the experiences of the author on the said event. The details of the experiences herein must not, in any way, be assumed to create negative comments or intentional misdirected criticisms about the event, the people on the event or the candidates involved on the said event.
Across the stairs around the corner of Piccadilly, a big tarp (featured image) welcomed me and every Pinoy going up. To be honest, this is the first and only physical campaign material I saw when I got here in Malaysia. To think that on my country, these stuff would literally cover all walls on the street, this is fairly new to me.
Entrance fee was about RM 35 and a separate RM 25 for the Duterte t-shirt. One of the organizers humbly said “Sorry, walang pera si Duterte. Kanya kanya tayo bayad” (Sorry, Duterte has no money. We pay for ourselves) with a genuine smile so I availed the entrance. She stamped on the right hand – all set – and I walked onto the gathering.
I expected that there are only few people on the assembly since we all follow the “same clock” no matter where our folks go. The Piccadilly function hall is quite large and the center can become a ballroom stage if you want. However, the chairs were already prepared, food already cooked but not served and people freshly joining were each securing seats for their company who is still probably “on the way”. Took pictures on every detail of the room (will advise the upload site) but after ten minutes, evidently I did one despicable thing as others were staring and murmuring at me:
I was wearing a YELLOW shirt!
I remembered the girl on Facebook from Hongkong, so immediately walked out after I heard someone said “Nako, Roxas ata yan!” (Tsk, He’s supporting Roxas), climbed out to my room, wore the only all-blue shirt I have and entered the function hall again hoping that no one would remember who I am. If my yellow shirt had been posted and made rounds on any social site, I am going to be notoriously famous.
After 30 minutes, the hosts began with three “Duterte” cheers and welcomed us into the general assembly. The program then started with a prayer, followed by our national anthem. Right hand on the chest next to a sign of the cross was a thing of the past since the last time I made this gesture was around high school decades ago.
The primary organizer then had a speech about how the group came to life as she said from the beginning there were only four (pointing to her co-pioneers). It was also a speech about how she believes Duterte should be the next president of our country and how us OFWs would greatly benefit once he is proclaimed in the altar of government.
After the speech, the hosts now gave permission to us to fall in line and eat which we did with discipline. No cutting on the line thanks to their version of Mocha Girls, which I heard the real ones campaigning to him, Duterte, free of charge. And yes, being the thrifty person that I am, I filled two plates (one for main entree and another for desserts) with RM 35 worth of food from Piccadilly.
It was after this moment that I missed home because while we were eating, the head of the organizers sang a classic song for us where the display on projector makes the screen of a retro videoke we have at our hometown. And I bet with a voice of his own, he can make it to semi-finals on our country’s ‘The Voice’ show.
If you ask me about the demographics, in my opinion (because I don’t know them and I walked in alone) most are comprised of domestic workers between age range of 30 above. You could even see little kids on the side, mostly one or two, but then these people are all well-versed with each other as though they may have had a previous gathering before this that I am not aware of. I also noticed SMART folks roaming around to advertise their products who eventually sat on the same table with us (yeah I made friends – come on!)
The hosts introduced their team and each had their own artist comparisons. I’ve even heard of Vhong Navarro, Sharon Cuneta and others more but I’m still busy eating and not listening to them as of the moment. As all great men say – “food is love” – and it is indeed. The hosts also advised us not to go out as any moment now the man himself, Rody Duterte, might call them and give message to us OFW supporters here in Malaysia.
First, there was a video message of him thanking us all OFWs for supporting him and believing in him as the next president. Then, HE CALLED. Yes, HE REALLY CALLED.
I could make out his accent from the loud but seemingly tunneled sounds from two large speakers across the hall. I have an audio and can transcribe it for you but it’s getting late so maybe some other time. The call lasted roughly 3 – 4 minutes, with us OFWs cheering in intervals with the “Duterte” chants. The faith of all of us to him was so strong that our cheers collectively deafened me for a moment. After the call, his advisor confirmed if it is okay now to end the call, which to me, is a sign of #respect and a like.
After the call, the hosts told us that they invited Julia Clarete to this event but have not made it so they promised next time (might be worth saving another RM 35). The hosts then gave the mic to the head organizer for another classic song and other OFWs (especially from Bukidnon) tossed in like battle rounds in ‘The Voice’.
Next program was the one I dubbed as Wowowee as they played games like ‘Hep Hep Hooray’ and blowing the balloon (not that one, silly). OFWs from different parts of the country participated with no shyness or sense of shame as they’re willingly raising their hands to run to the front line. Us millenials will probably not participate in these games, only them and it’s not a bad thing. In fact, I came to realize that they are enjoying themselves at that moment, are very happy and are craving the company of fellow countrymen who enjoy the same thing. So yeah, I enjoyed as well seeing them happy and made me laugh a little.
Head organizer then called in for the closing remarks while a famous Pinoy band here in Malaysia called “Frequency9” is preparing sound checks and instrument tuning for the jamming later on. It was a general assembly filled with fun and anticipation for Duterte to win. In fact, I am rooting for him too. And I’m sure you are as well. Cheers!