The President’s fashion statement is loud and clear

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Dressed in a plain Barong Tagalog, morning trouser, and comfortable-looking shoes, the 16th President  of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte was ready—as he so declared—to start his work for the nation MALACAÑANG PHOTO

Dressed in a plain Barong Tagalog, morning trouser, and comfortable-looking shoes, the 16th President of the Philippines Rodrigo Roa Duterte was ready—as he so declared—to start his work for the nation
MALACAÑANG PHOTO

While there was nothing inappropriate about the new President of the Philippines’ choice of inaugural attire—his plain barong Tagalog, beige morning trousers, and what seemed from afar as reddish brown boots—it was not what the citizens of the republic have been accustomed to see in presidential oath takings of recent memory.

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Usually, the incoming President’s barong is a major story in itself, from the time of Fidel Ramos all the way to Noynoy Aquino. Such features would cover the Chief Executive-in-waiting’s chosen designer, the symbolism of his barong’s bespoke embroidery, and an interview with the weavers in the region where the indigenous fabric would be sourced.

As in many other features of the Duterte inauguration on Thursday, the new President’s fashion statement is a different story.

His choice of what can be technically identified in fashion as a long-sleeved polo barong [i.e. "the least formal version of the barong and frequently used as men’s office wear, akin to the Western suit and tie”]; his diversion from the formal black slacks; and preference for comfortable shoes on the day he assumes the highest office in the land affirms the President’s words in the end of his inaugural address: “Why am I here? Because I’m ready to start my work for the nation.”

As such, Mr. Duterte’s fashion statement on Thursday—and most likely throughout out his presidency—is loud and clear: He is all about the work.

For the man destined to be the country’s 16th President, it seems that what he wears should be irrelevant to the office he has vowed to serve, even on a day supposedly steeped in tradition. For after all the pageantry, his mandate is to buckle down to work.

After all, the Office of the President is not about him, but about serving the Filipino people. And again, this reality is symbolically, if not poignantly, echoed on Mr. Duterte’s inaugural attire: the Philippine flag pinned prominently on his left chest. No pattern, no embroidery, no embellishment competing for attention.

Indeed, for a nation whom its new President deems to have lost its “faith and trust in government,” the flag on his heart—and the work he vows to do—is the best fashion statement of all.

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52 Comments

  1. I hope the SONA will also be all about business and not the fancy gowns and Chanels of the spouses. The invitation should be to sectoral representatives who deserve to be in the halls and not congressional wives or husbands in their pageantry. You want to parade your fashion, choose a more appropriate event that is not on taxpayers’ money.

  2. I am elated with what our new President has constantly showed to the Filipino people…leading by example of simplicity and authenticity, and the readiness to buckle down to work with no-nonsense and fulfill what he promised to us all. It just validated my belief that Digong is the best among all Presidentiables to carry out the tasks of the highest post of the land. I pray that he will deliver and comes out victorious for the people as he always will. “P_ _ _ _ _ ina” please guard him well and make him safe always….

  3. His heart is for the Pilipino people.. truly a public servant who acts as one. Walking the talk. May the Lord Bless this leader … his health, his life and his plans. Change is in the horizon !!!!!

  4. I wish him all the luck in this world. Let us cooperate with him for our common good.

  5. A comfortable working clothes and shoes for a working man whose main goal is to serve his people, not the other way around! Kudos Mr. President praying for your success in governance and most of all your safety! God bless ???

  6. Best wishes Mr. President and long live!!! May you have good health and wisdom to lead our country from the chaotic former president which made the people lost its trust to the government.

  7. Robert Robert on

    Let this probinsyano work and forget what he wears cuz he is comfortable and at ease during his chores. Compare it with that retard past president who does nothing except smoke, drink and play computer. To those haters and bashers makiramdam na lang kayo dahil marami nang nagawa si mayor Du30 sa 3 araw pa lang niya.

    • I applaud Digong for making 16M people feel patriotic again. He is now president. And we are looking forward to the promised change. But i don’t think that bashing Pnoy as if you’ve lived with him for the last 6 years will make Digong do his job any better. So please be like Digong, walk the talk. stop the hate.

  8. He is not just posturing – he is presidenting. I do not give a truck what the man wears, he’s there for my interests – i got his back. Let’s work with the President!

  9. Juana De Araico on

    we now have a choice to fashion ourselves after him or not at all… choose your pick.

  10. Ciony Anderson on

    Simplicity is bliss! We must all roll our sleeves and work with a working President.

  11. Simplicity is Davao’s fashoion statement. Contented and happy life is our way of living.

  12. Simplicity is Davao’s fashion statement. Contented and happy life is our way of living.

  13. My President….is fashionable. I like his “Barong” dress attire, ready to serve the Filipino people.

  14. Fashion doesn’t justify deeds.
    He loves no one but his people,
    He cares nothing but his nation.
    That is indeed a true public servant..

  15. It is only befitting that our Philippine Flag be the best design for all our public servants, as we should be serving our country and the common good of the Filipino People.

  16. CHANGE has commenced.
    I can hardly wait to watch muli the “red carpet fashion” on SONA day later this July.

  17. Tita Rimando on

    Drop “fashion”; it’ a statement; period. And yes, it says, “tara na, trabaho na tayo; and daming labada, daming kelangan walisin!”
    Change is here. But let’s all remember this change principle: “(for a while) things will get worse before they become better.” So let’s all pull together and be patient for the positive results.

  18. Ferdinand centeno on

    Such a comment that reflects the personality who i have been with in more than 60 years….Rody as he is…speaks of how he can do to alleviate the sufferings of the people from the dictatorial regime to the worst Aquino govt. he said to give him 3-6 months….maybe not !!! Cuz the clothes he’s wearing shows the readiness to work…

  19. It’s so dignified and yet elegant.. Well done Mr President and he is so Proud of our Country and hHonors it by wearing the Philippine Flag on his chest… Not like Pinoy he wears a yellow ribbon.

  20. Chylbert Rosendo on

    Thank you Mr. President for putting the Filipinos first and foremost in your passion to serve. Kana ang tunay nga lider!

  21. Z. Mavroukas on

    I agree.
    President Duterte is the country’s FIRST-EVER!
    The flag on his heart is a loud statement and it speaks volume ????
    Actually noticed it at his inauguration when the President was shaking the OUT-president whose pin was a yellow ribbon for his political party.. Right there was a visual comparison of what each heart stands for.

    • LOURDES ROSARIO JIMENEZ on

      I agree with you. Pres. Digong was the only presidential candidate then who used the Philippine flag as part of his campaign advertisements and logo. It speaks volumes of where his heart lies – his deep love for his country and the Filipinos. May your tribe increase, Mr. President! We shall be your prayer warriors – praying for your and our country’s success!!

    • Nailed it! yellow ribbon to his party but the flag is for the WHOLE COUNTRY. Yellow or not, PRRD is President to all. Not just to the yellow cult. Need we say more? It speak Volumes.

  22. As much as I would always want to keep some nice and humble tradition I think that the president’s fashion statement is most appropriate in our present times. I admire him for being “pure” in his goals and I do pray for his success.

  23. d best editorial i read about pres. Duterte’s sense of fashion… thumbs up to u madam!

  24. Our President is a true Filipino, sa itsura, salita at sa gawa.. I salute you Mr. President. Mabuhay po kayo.

  25. To be honest, I didn’t have any high expectations for the man called “Digong” but after watching his inaugural speech I am now more confident that the Filipino people elected the right man to the presidency.

  26. Justina Alvarado Sienes on

    President Duterte’s choice of attire is a true reflection of his ideals… Honesty, Simplicity & Dedication!! May God bless & keep him safe always!!

  27. Rebecca Montales Sowle on

    Well said at the end of the day is all about serving the Filipino people and not about fashion image. That’s what I like with the new Mr President Duterte he is down to earth and he meant business. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas and God bless our new president.

  28. Beautifully written. Thank you Ms Tessa Arriola.
    As to the President and his fashion sense? He has nada. But passion for the Philippines, he has a heart full of it. We will support him in any way we can, big or small, because we believe in him and in his vision for the country.

  29. Cleofe G. Veloso on

    Well-said, Madam Tessa! Let’s roll up all our sleeves, join the President and work together for the change we’ve been longing for.

  30. Great analysis Ms. Tessa!
    That Philippine flag pin is the only adornment needed by PRRD.

  31. Salvador S. Diansay on

    Madam Tessa said it all. Duterte’s passion to serve the people is gleaned in his inaugural attire with the national flag. Again, Madam is correct – the best fashion ever worn by any new Chief Executive.