MANILA–No matter how old, how tough, successful or powerful a person is, he or she will always run to mother when things get rough and tough. Proof? Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte cried like a child when he visited his parent’s graves in an early morning visit on Tuesday.

After a television interview in Davao at 3 in the morning, Duterte made an emotional visit to the Davao Public Cemetery to see his parents. There, before his mother’s (Soledad’s) tomb, he wept. See video

The self-confessed “mama’s boy” was heard asking for his mother’s guidance on how he would rule a country of over 100 million. He then went to his father’s tomb and kissed it.

Duterte’s father was a former Davao governor. His mother was a public school teacher.

The tough-talking mayor said he had wanted to cry before but was too busy campaigning. “There are ghosts here. You just heard one cry,” he said.

Duterte cries at his parent's tomb
Duterte cries at his parent’s tomb

Popularly known as “Digong,” he had vowed to butcher criminals and ride a jet ski to plant the Philippine flag in the disputed West Philippine Sea islands — before winning his nation’s highest post.

Duterte has already eclipsed the total votes President Benigno Aquino III received when he won the presidency in 2010. Aquino at the time received a total of 15,208,678 votes or 42% of the voting population. Though less than a majority, he had been considered the nation’s most popular president. Duterte, on the other hand, has amassed 15,582,454 votes with the count still coming in.


Duterte’s camp is already creating a transition committee to start the ball rolling on his administration. Duterte’s spokesman Peter Tiu Laviña told reporters that there will be a transition committee with three sub committees. The sub units will consist of inauguration, policy and selection committees.

The presumptive president is also eyeing military men for his cabinet. A cabinet secretary traditionally serves as the alter-ego of the president.

In a nationally televised interview over Pastor Apollo Quiboloy’s TV program, Duterte promised to change his style. The pugnacious mayor, known for his iron-fist leadership in Davao for over 20 years and a gutter-language campaign, also vowed to control his use of profanity.

“I need to control my mouth. I cannot be rude because I will be representing our country,” Duterte said. He also noted that a president should be “prim and proper.”

His long-time friend and attorney, Vitaliano Aguirre, said that behind the tough, macho image and profanities is a sincere man. “We should look behind the foul language. He is really sincere in fixing our country’s problems,” Aguirre said.

Calls for healing

Duterte has already reached out to his rivals. He says it’s time to unite and start healing. “Let us be friends. Forget about the travails of elections,” he said.

Duterte said he has already spoken to Sen. Grace Poe. The senator called him to inform him that she was going on national television to concede. “She was gracious enough to call me,” Duterte said in an interview over Pastor Quiboloy’s TV show.

Grace Poe concedes
Grace Poe concedes

He vowed to support Poe’s various political advocacies — including electoral reforms. Duterte even said that if Poe needs to seek him out, he will personally visit her at her office instead of having her go to Malacañang, the place where the president holds office.

Duterte expressed admiration to Poe for standing pat and refusing to accept incumbent President Aquino’s offer of the vice presidential post under administration favorite Mar Roxas. He also praised her for not joining with Roxas in preventing a Duterte presidency.

Roxas, in the meantime, has also conceded the presidential race to Duterte. “I wish Digong success,” Roxas said, echoing Duterte’s call for unity and focusing on addressing the country’s problems.

Even his critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, who accused Duterte of having over 200 million pesos in hidden wealth said he will not hinder Duterte’s presidency.

Aguirre said Duterte is the first president to win the election through popular volunteerism. “We have no money, big organization and machinery,” he said.

The latest presidential election is said to be the most expensive in Philippine history. Each candidate is said to have spent over $300 million pesos ($6.4 million). Of the five candidates, Duterte is the second lowest spender. He spent 140 million on political ads alone.

Aguirre said Duterte’s candidacy took off with the help of the Davao City mayor’s classmates and fraternity brothers who attended the San Beda College of Law. “We even formed the ‘Brotherhood for Duterte’ to push his candidacy,” Aguirre said, adding that they couldn’t even afford to field poll watchers nationwide.

Their few poll watchers, he said were volunteers. “He would always tell us that if it’s destiny for him to win, then so be it,” Aguirre said. Aguirre said few donations came in for Duterte during the final stretch of the campaign. “They probably noticed him because he has a high rating on surveys,” Aguirre said.

Lorenz Niel Santos is a Manila-based journalist.

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