And why is this important?
By Raïssa Robles
All the news stories regarding the photo shoot of President Rodrigo Duterte’s grand daughter Isabelle say she is turning 18 this January. Hence, her posing in four expensive designer gowns was a “pre-debut” pictorial for that very important date.
Since I wasn’t exactly sure when her birthday was, I googled her age.
And this is what came out:
This can’t be right, I told myself. Maybe Google made a mistake because no one inside the presidential palace has made a clarification on her age.
Besides, Isabelle Duterte herself tweeted that she was 17 right now.
So I searched some more and went to the Davao City government website where Ms. Duterte’s father Paolo is the vice mayor and her aunt Sara the mayor.
And this is what the official website of the Davao City government stated:
THAT ISABELLE DUTERTE WAS BORN ON JANUARY 26, 2002.
Which makes her only 15 years old today.
Now, Duterte supporters are sure to let up a howl and even those critical of President Duterte must be asking themselves why am I bothering with the real age of a minor.
Let me explain.
You see, in all my years covering politics I have learned that LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT.
Yes, it is the small things that make Filipino politicians stumble. Not just the big things.
For instance, when I researched my first book on the late President Elpidio Quirino, I learned that it was the accusation that he had a golden orinola (piss pot) that scandalized the population. In the impeachment complaint filed against Quirino, the orinola was one of the grounds cited for his impeachment. It turned out that the piss pot was made of stainless steel, a new alloy then that made the pot more expensive than the usual pot.
Another ground cited against Quirino was what you might even say was a small thing – that he was charging the piano lessons of his daughter Victoria as expense of the presidential palace. It wasn’t true, of course, but that stuck too.
In the case of Mar Roxas, the presidential candidate of the Liberal Party in 2016, one of the negatives hurled against him was that he had yelled at a golf club employee after being told he should pay for the use of the greens by his guest. The incident made people question his ability to handle crisis.
Now we come to Isabelle Duterte. She had an extensive photo shoot inside the presidential palace. She tweeted she was 17.
But then the official Davao city government website clearly states she is only turning 16 next year. Which is an age that is not celebrated in the country as a rite of passage. And therefore does not seem to merit that kind of grand celebration with four designer gowns, one of them very, very expensive.
If the city government website is correct, then I suspect that the recent Palace pictorial and her “debut” next year are really intended to launch her career as a movie star.
You might again say, this is such a small thing.
And I would reply, this is all about honesty and truth-telling. If Malacanang can’t be honest in small things, what about big things?