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By Lito Banayo

The last SONA of Doña Gloria was interrupted a hundred or so times (according to the broadcast stations) by coaxed applause. The applause was tepid, likely coaxed by two very apparent observations. First, the speaker on the dais stopped after almost every sentence, and looked as if she was waiting for the applause. After a few seconds of embarrassing silence, the polite applause came. Naghihintay ng palakpak!

The second was the usual presence of starters-Senadora Miriam in pink paler than her Boss Woman's, giving her every ounce of strength to raising the decibels of coaxed approval. Plus the Arroyo brothers, one positioned to the front left of Doña Mama, the other at the rear right. And of course, the ubiquitous Senora Girlie Villarosa.

ANC's Pia Hontiveros sounded truly aghast when she observed that the longest and strongest applause came when the Dona said that "because texting has become a way of life", she (misma!) talked to the "telecoms", and got them to lower the price of text messaging to 50 centavos!


Without need of any coaxing from Senadora Miriam or Senora Girlie, the hall thundered in wild applause. Had Joker Arroyo deigned to dignify his Boss Woman with his "august" attendance, he would have described the cacophony similar to "jumping chimpanzees". The most transcendental event in the history of the seven years and seven months of Gloria had transpired, mirabile dictu! Ah, such great significance to the life of this miserably benighted land, such earth-shaking announcement from the lips of La Doña, misma! How could she be so beneficent that at such a great hour that comes but once in every year, she had thought of her "pobrecitos y pobrecitas," particularmente los jovenes, a quien este...text..."had become a way of life".

Ang babaw talaga ng kaligayahan, and to think that in that Great Hall of the Benighted sat in transfixed attention and coaxed applause the crème de la crème of this nation's body politic!

That message about text messaging cost being cut, by "diktat" from her imperial highness, was the high point of her-one hour address. People will long remember her for her hated VAT, and will remember how obstinately she called its juice, more appropriately, the blood, sweat and tears of los pobrecitos y pobrecitas, as "el salvador de la patria". (Pardon the profane usage of your name, Tito Doy.) Just as they would remember how the Bugkalot chieftain and mayor of Natipunan in Quirino upended all the multi-millions spent for the haute couture, les parfums et les coiffures (not to mention prior treatments with Belo or Calayan or a botox visit to Bangkok) by simply being himself, even if he must have chafed painfully inside his heart at being used as a prop for all that lying. But miserable people will always certainly appreciate the small and tender mercy of a cut on the cost of text.

And then came the morning after. My God, the telcos were still charging a peso per text! What happened to the diktat of the "queen"? How dare these telcos defy Canuta, and would dirty her feet, er, word, as so marvellously pronounced in the "great hall" of the benighted land?

'Yun pala, promo lang!

Due to the competition for the thinning purchasing power of "estos pobrecitos y pobrecitas," they asked the National Telecommunications Commission if they could cut their rates for their short messaging services by half, for a period of ninety days. Of course the NTC agreed.

Nai-kwento sa Donya, inangkin naman. "Inutos ko" later tempered to "pinakiusapan ko sila". He, he, he.

With faces as red as beet the day after, the embarrassed NTC officials had to say they would try to make the fifty percent discount permanent, but that, they cautioned, would require hearings.

So man-on-the-street interviews the day after the SONA, and such transcendental message from the "queen" suddenly turned into angry chants of "Nambobola na naman pala!"

But to the succor came the new toady at NEDA, the author of VAT, mismo, who likely would out-nerify Romulo in the post, and intones, as if he would do what his Doña failed to immediately deliver because it was once more lying and cheating and stealing (credit): "I think the government wants that to be permanent, the President wants it to be permanent, so that people will have savings and possibly that can augment their income". Wow! Such transcendental economic theory from Senor Recto, esposo de La Vilma.

Kawawang mga telcos. Ginamit lang na props, na-kotongan pa! As Panfilo Lacson, the perpetual bête noire of Doña Gloria y Don Miguel, rued, "pati credit sa kotong, ninakaw!" "Nawala na ang kotong noon (during his stint as PNP chief), bumalik pa nga nung naupo siya." And every driver in the land, whether that guy who was made to stand up from the gallery in attestation to the virtual reality of the Boss Woman's fatuous claim, or any jeepney, taxi, bus, FX and what-have-you would chorus, "nambobola na naman."

Meanwhile, Indonesia lowered its VAT from 7.5 to 3 percent. Thailand is following suit, if it has not yet announced the cut at the time of this writing. But the Doña will "stay the course" because "leadership is not about doing the first easy thing that comes to mind; it is about doing the necessary, however hard."

Vintage Teddyboy Locsin wordsmithing, if I may surmise. I wonder if my friend Teddy also taught her to lie about text messages


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