Less than a year before his term in office, President Duterte is pushing the United States and China to battle for his favor as the two powers battle for supremacy in the Indo-Pacific region, which has become a focal point for possible hostilities.
As time goes by and Duterte’s terms for further U.S. military operations in the Philippines tighten, the matter may need urgent referral to President Biden himself.
Duterte telegraphed the urgency days ago: “I just want to … talk or communicate, or I just want to talk to some people in Washington, be it from the President’s office or the State Department or the Department of Defense.” No quick response was reported.
In contrast, Duterte can usually tell Beijing what he wants, sometimes speaking directly to China’s President Xi Jinping, his supposed friend who had promised to do whatever it takes to keep him in power.
Duterte always played change and talked about the canceled US visa of his protégé Sen. Bato de la Rosa and the need for COVID-19 vaccines. But with the economy shrinking, the pandemic spreading, and his term coming to an end, he wants Washington to move faster.
Earlier this week, he reiterated his announcement to end the 1998 Visitor Forces Agreement, which, along with the 2014 Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement and the 1951 Treaty on Mutual Defense, will serve as the basis for U.S. military operations in the country.
Talks on settlement, rent and military aid could have been sped up during the Trump presidency with a visit to the White House as a bonus, but there have been doubts as to whether it makes sense to see them together if Trump runs for re-election.
Last week, the U.S. backed the 2016 Permanent Arbitration Tribunal in The Hague confirming the Filipino contestation of China’s far-reaching claim to most of the South China Sea, including sections of the Philippine Sea Basin.
Aside from the fact that the gesture was five years late, it was just words. At the moment, Duterte wants to see action and the rapid delivery of critical items, including military equipment and rental for the use of Filipino military facilities.
If the US wants to estimate how much Duterte wants, it can remember that around 35 years ago then President Marcos asked for $ 900 million in military and economic aid over the years.
Biden has to note that China is ready with its own offers. After his inauguration in 2016, Duterte lost no time and made a pilgrimage to Beijing, where he announced his break with Uncle Sam and his opening to his Chinese neighbor.
While we’re in the mood to reminisce, Duterte also has to remember that weeks after Marcos demanded stiff base rents, a people power revolution materialized and drove him into exile.
Olympians use cardboard beds!
What, the world’s best athletes taking part in the 2021 Games in Tokyo – just like Manila’s homeless in times before the pandemic – have to sleep on tatami-style cardboard boxes in the Olympic Village?
We can imagine the knee-jerk reaction of some Filipinos to this headline mentioning Olympic “cardboard beds,” especially those who knew Manila at night before the COVID-19 protocols swept away the tramps who slept on cardboard mats on the sidewalks.
Another cultural bias is suggested in American athlete Paul Chelimo’s tweet about the Olympic beds, who “is able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations outside of sport”. His post sparked isolated thoughts about sex in bed.
His tweet: “The beds to be set up in the Olympic Village will be made of cardboard to avoid intimacy between the athletes. Beds will be able to withstand the weight of a single person to avoid situations outside of sport. “
Others, locked in their mental frame by COVID-19, speculated that the cardboard beds were likely designed to prevent the deadly virus from spreading in the Olympic Village. Well…
(On July 19, Tokyo reported a total of 190,000 COVID-19 cases, 178,000 recoveries and 2,253 deaths. Japan was slow to import vaccines while manufacturing its own vaccines.)
It was a relief that Irish gymnast Rhys McClenaghan posted a short video the day after Chelimo’s tweet bouncing up and down on an Olympic cardboard bed frame (not a mat!) To show how strong the bed was. He said while hopping on it:
“In today’s episode of fake news at the Olympics, beds are supposed to be anti-sex. They’re made of cardboard, yes, but apparently every sudden movement is supposed to break them. It’s fake, fake news. “
The team that owns the Olympic Games Twitter account liked this and replied, “Thanks for debunking the myth. You heard it first from @TeamIreland Turner @McClenaghanRhys – the sustainable cardboard beds are sturdy! “
“Sustainability” appeared as a reason behind the beds. In a July 19 report, the Today show on NBC stated:
“Back in January 2020, the organizers of the Olympics told the Associated Press that they were planning to make cardboard beds so that they could be recycled into paper products after the Games.
“Although the beds are made of cardboard, they are not thin. They can carry 440 pounds, Takashi Kitajima, the general manager of Athletes Village, told AP at the time, insisting that they were “stronger than wooden beds”. In addition, any mattress that is not made of cardboard is recycled into plastic products. “
Reviews of the cardboard beds also reminded us of tatami, a native mat made primarily of rush grass that can be seen in many traditional Japanese homes. Tatami mats are also used in Japanese martial arts training in a dojo and in competitions.
As westernization has crept in and more and more Japanese homes are adopting western design, we often see at least one room (referred to as a “washitsu”) with tatami flooring. This option combines traditional and modern styles and allows you to enjoy the benefits of both worlds.
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Note: All postscripts are also archived at ManilaMail.com. Author is on Twitter as @FDPascual. Email: [email protected]