A few years ago then president Gloria Arroyo was visiting Davao and was billeted at Marco Polo Hotel. Mayor Rody Duterte, after meeting the President decided to chill for a while at the Marco Polo’s lobby lounge. I together with 3 other media colleagues decided to join him for an interview.
While the interview was being conducted, club sandwiches were being served. One plate, then another plate and another plate of club sandwich arrived at our table. By the time the interview was finished and after having our very generous fill of club sandwiches we decided to leave and asked the mayor if we can be excused.
“Di pa naubos ang sandwich, ubusin nyo, walang uuwi sa atin.” ( There are still club sandwiches left, finished them, no one leaves) The mayor said.
“Ipa-takeout nalang nato.” Suggested one mediaman.
“Hindi. ubusin niyo, walang masasayang na pagkain.” (No. finished it, no food shall be wasted.) He replied.
Seeing perhaps the fat guy in the group he then turned to me and said. “Dong. Kaya mo yan ubusin. (Boy, you can finish it)” which was seconded by my colleagues.
But I had my fill of club sandwiches, 3 plates were served for such a small group. There was a plate and a half left.
“Umorder ka ng drinks.” The mayor said, and called the pretty waitress.
I asked for coke. And tried to finish the other plate. Now only one plate remained.
Di man na siya magdugay, muhawa lang na siya. Hawa ta paghawa niya. (He will not stay here that long, he will leave, we will also leave if he leaves.) A colleague whispered. We were counting on that the mayor will not have the patience to wait for us to finish the plate of club sandwich.
We were wrong. We waited for two more hours.
Dong ubusin mo na yan. Gusto ko na umuwi. he said yawning It was nearly 2 am.
By then I mustered all my appetite to finish the remaining sandwiches.
Looking back it was a surreal scene, the mayor of a highly-urbanized city waited for me to finish a plateful of club sandwich.
And that night as I swore never to eat the hotel's club sandwiches again, I also saw a glimpse of how a man's uncompromising leadership had transformed a city.