Mabait at matulungin

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    ‘I found it most interesting that Leo was one of the 16 million who voted for Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. He voted for PRRD’s running mate, Alan Cayetano, as well. But now he will need a lot of wooing to get him to vote for Mayora Sara…’

    I HAD a conversation with a friend a few days ago centered on his early preference for president in 2022. Let’s hide my friend behind the name Leo. He is a father of four boys (the fourth is due next month), has multiple jobs to make ends meet, and is often curious about what I think of the state of affairs of the country.

    This time, I wanted to turn the tables around and put him on the spot.

    In Filipino, I asked him if he already has a choice for 2022. “Who is running?” He asked back. I said, well, it’s too early to say but some of the names being bruited about are Manny Pacquiao and….

    “I’m for Manny”, he chirped, even before I was done. “I know the lineup isn’t final yet but I am leaning towards Manny.”

    Why Manny, I asked him. What about him made you say this early that you’re for him?

    His answer was simple: “Since I was a kid I have already admired Manny. He is a great boxer.”

    True, I said. Seven or eight weight categories? Who can beat that? But, I said, we are not voting for “boxer of the year,” yes? So why Manny?

    “He is kind,” Leo said, using the Filipino term “mabait” and looking at me for affirmation.

    But none was coming.

    Is your mom kind? I asked him. Is she as kind as Manny? Leo immediately said, “My mom is an angel and she is kinder than Manny.”

    So why don’t we just vote for your mom then if what matters to you is kindness?

    He looked at me and smiled and said “uhm, you have a point there. But Manny is also helpful (matulungin),” he quickly adds. And he explains that he sees this in the way Manny gives out relief goods to the needy.

    I decided to take another tack. “Will you let Manny be your dentist? To clean or pull out your teeth?” I asked. The answer was quite vehement. “Of course not! He isn’t trained for that kind of work!”

    I left it at that and then asked him another question: “Don’t you like Mayora Sara?”
    Here he turned very Filipino – by which I mean he seemed to think I was for Sara and immediately began tailoring his answers for me! I had to cut him off by saying I had no choice yet but wanted to know who he preferred between Manny and Sara. “Still Manny,” he says, explaining that “I don’t know Sara.”

    Oh, okay, I said. What if President Duterte calls for you and in Malacanang he introduces you to Sara. “Leo, this is Sara, Sara this is Leo.” Ok so now you know her; who will you choose?

    “Still Manny,” he says, trying to read in my eyes whether he answered “correctly.”

    I found that exchange interesting on a number of levels. First: “mabait” and “matulungin.”

    They mean a lot to Leo, and I can imagine to millions more like him. Second, “kilala ko si Manny” means a lot because Filipinos all over the world have many times “brought” Manny into their homes, cheering him on, celebrating in his victories and hurting in his rare defeats. He has given them, many times over, a reason to be proud they are Filipinos.

    I found it most interesting that Leo was one of the 16 million who voted for Rodrigo Duterte in 2016. He voted for PRRD’s running mate, Alan Cayetano, as well. But now he will need a lot of wooing to get him to vote for Mayora Sara; his vote is Manny’s to lose.

    Oh, and I found it also interesting that Leo doesn’t trust the Chinese vaccines at all, no matter what PRRD says.

    I guess Mayora Sara and the Chinese need to show more of their “mabait” and “matulungin” sides to win back/over someone like Leo!