The Smile That Lingers

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attend a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev via REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte attend a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Lima, Peru, November 19, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Mikhail Klimentyev via REUTERS

We all know what it’s like to fall in love, even from a distance. For some, seeing the idolized one in the flesh can be thrilling. And so it was that RRD, the brown leader of a small warm country, told his people about his meeting with VP, the white leader of the large frozen continent on the other side of the globe. The smitten RRD reported that the former commissar was “already a friend” because he had smiled at him. “It’s very seldom that he smiles, but every time we shook hands, he smiled at me,” RRD explained. Having been bestowed a sunny look by someone who ordinarily frowns and makes his enemies quake in their boots, this was no mean achievement.

Today, even as American politicians of both parties are calling for a probe into reports that VP had a hand in the US election, enabling orange-topped DT to win over his opponent, RRD is not fazed as he’s still in a daze over VP’s smile that lingers above him like the Cheshire cat’s.

This brings to mind GWB, that other paleface from the opposite continent who had claimed there were WMDs in the land of veiled women. He, too, had met the usually taciturn VP and declared that “I looked him in the eye … and was able to get a sense of his soul.” Few people, it seems, who meet VP are immune from those cossack eyes!

RRD also said VP had promised to help his poor country by buying tropical fruits and native gewgaws and, in exchange, would sell him some modern blowtorches, slingshots and stuff. That display of largesse overwhelmed RRD, who declared that he would no longer accept second-hand exterminators from his old enemy BHO who was prone to nag him for his policy of rubbing out the creatures feeding on weeds in the streets.  Instead he’d buy such things from his “new friend who has plenty of them… As a matter of fact, he is selling them: buy one, take one.”

This display of hubris differed somewhat from what the little leader said in a TV interview overseas. He had announced then that “I’m not ready for a military alliance” but wanted to cooperate with his “new friends.” The alliance was not just with VP’s country but also with the one located closer to his little country, the one led by the enigmatic XJP who had made his octopuses spread their tentacles over RRD’s land but kindly allowed the native squid to fish and frolic in the surrounding waters.

Hearing the wondrous things RRD had done in his travels made his people marvel at his words, with some comparing him to that girl in the film some years back who was able to rotate her head in all directions while a priest kept frantically sprinkling holy water on her.

The glowing reports made the warm country even warmer, but it suddenly got really hot when one of his idols, who had expired years ago, decided he would rise from the grave and plant himself in the national pantheon, propped up along his way by mournful-looking zombies who looked like him, backed by some skittish soldiers.

This produced ranting in the streets by the furious fringe. They got more agitated when RRD suddenly changed the locks of his exclusive establishment to bar his supposed partner, the lady LR. She had been hanging around its edges all this time, so she sent a note saying she was tired of being dangled like a rag doll and would go off to do her own thing.

And so RRD finally became the master of his fate and the captain of his soul, like he’d always wanted.  Whether he lives happily ever after is unknown.

– This op-ed originally ran in the Philippine Inquirer on Dec. 22, 2016. –

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