Wednesday, April 27, 2016

White strawberries from Japan for dessert. And about political gossip at a cocktail party and a dinner tonight.

I was only away for a weekend in Tokyo this time around, but I realized I missed Manila a lot today, on my first day back in town, living a #Travelife.

It started with a very nice lunch, full of lively conversation and good food, that ended with some white strawberries from Tokyo for dessert. I'm not allowed to blog about this lunch, for some reason, so all I can say is that I had fun.


Then tonight, I went to two parties.

There I was at the Raffles Hotel early in the evening to attend a cocktail party hosted by the Ambassador of South Africa for the celebration of South Africa's Freedom Day. Attending this and seeing the giant videos on the walls of the ballroom with images of beautiful South Africa made me remember every single trip I have made there.


There have been many trips to South Africa now, but still the first one is etched most in my memory, ironically a trip with the same person I had lunch with today.

I can still feel that mixture of wonder, excitement and happiness as I opened the French doors of my hotel room and stepped out onto the balcony at the lovely Westcliff in Johannesburg on my very first morning in Africa, checking in quickly after an overnight flight to Joburg from Hong Kong.

I remember this feeling as if it was only yesterday. I can still smell the crisp air and I can still recall everything I saw from the balcony as lions roared in the distance.

Scroll down to read more about the Philippine presidential elections... 


Of course, there was lots of talk about the upcoming Philippine presidential elections tonight.

Not a few ambassadors at this cocktail party told me that they had just filed their reports on the elections to their respective governments. Hearing about the information they sent to their respective countries actually surprised me because it seemed as skewed as the biased coverage of some media outlets.

I almost said to them, at this cocktail party: "Looks like you've been watching a lot of television and reading the biased newspapers, instead of putting your ear to the ground."


Then I hurried over back into the villages to attend a sit-down dinner hosted by a well-liked ambassador for his good friends. 

The dinner included three very clued-in and well-known political observers, so of course we talked politics with gusto.

For these three locals, none of them Duterte supporters in particulars, the Duterte win is almost a shoo-in because his lead is just too big -- they feel that the massive machineries of two of the other four candidates will still not be able to generate a win against this big lead.

"The anti-Mar sentiment is so strong," said one gentleman. "I hear the same thing everywhere - people are voting 'anyone but Mar.'"

He also likened Duterte's popularity to the popularity of former President Joseph Estrada. "Except that this time, Duterte has support across the board from all classes, including the A and B classes."

Another one said: "The Roxas camp is campaigning on continuity. They just don't get it. It's exactly more of the same that people don't want. So much of the Duterte vote is about wanting change, and so much of it is also a protest vote against the status quo."


This is when I heard the very interesting news that many of the FVR men are behind presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte's campaign, and that some of Manila's top businessmen are actually quiet Duterte supporters.

And the best news I heard tonight came from someone who knows everyone in Manila. He said: "At the Makati Business Club lunch today, someone whispered to me that if Duterte wins, he will ask Gilbert Teodoro to join his cabinet."

I almost jumped up from my seat when he said this, as I think Gilbert Teodoro would be a great asset to any cabinet.

And with that very nice thought, I happily ended just another interesting evening in my never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

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