Rodrigo Roa Duterte is officially the country’s 16th president. But for what it’s worth, allow me to recall an experience with the man a few years ago that convinced me he should be the one to hold the top government post of the land.
Tourism Malaysia officials accompanied us on this trip, and they requested me for some photos of Digong visiting the Sepang Circuit for promotional use. No problem, I reckoned. Plus, I supposed I would have the chance to meet one of the most colorful personalities in Philippine politics as well.
We finally caught up with Duterte in Kuala Lumpur. It was lunchtime and we were brought to a lakeside restaurant. He handed his calling card, and I swear it was like the scene from the movie Bedazzled, in which Elizabeth Hurley hands over her “The Devil” calling card to Brendan Fraser. His immaculately white card only had his name and the title “Vice Mayor” written on it. Not making this stuff up!
“Do you ride?” he asked. “Because I have an extra Harley-Davidson I want to dispose of.”
As it turned out, he wasn’t joking, despite the smirk that followed his query. He really was looking for someone to take the Harley motorbike from his hands because he hardly got to ride it.
“Just take it if you want it,” he added.
Now, I had ridden a motorcycle when I was 12. I had also taken a 400cc bike around the block, but for me to say yes to a Harley? That would have been way beyond my league. So I politely declined the offer.
Lesson learned from the encounter? The next time Rodrigo Duterte says something, take him seriously for it. The Harley motorbike went to some other guy; let’s just say he’s grinning from ear to ear right now.
Photos and article by Mikko David for Top Gear Philippines. Read the complete article on Top Gear Philippines at https://www.topgear.com.ph/features/columns/the-drive-by-shooter/duterte-at-motogp-race-a29-20160630.