A kiss planted by President Rodrigo Duterte on the lips of Bea Kim, a Filipina said to be married to a South Korean with whom she has two children, while on an official visit to South Korea has initiated a controversy among the many seemingly prude critics and feminist bigots in this country.
Whether the smooch was made on the lips, the cheeks or on the forehead for the world to say the fact is all it was, was a kiss.
So why make a big fuss about it and make it appear like it was a sinful act?
Because it was Duterte who did it, he who has been labeled as misogynist by women’s rights advocates and by some preachy opposition politicians?
For one to be tagged as misogynist, he is one characterized to be strongly prejudiced against women.
Now, is Duterte living up to this disparaging description when he has a wife and daughters to reckon with in the family?
What I am just saying here is that one has to understand where Duterte comes from and learn to know and appreciate him, warts and all, for he is not the traditional or conventional leader that one expects him to be.
Duterte himself has admitted that he is not and can never be presidential in any manner, shape and form. Sadly, this is what his critics from the political circle and the women’s right advocacy groups expect him to act.
Well, what you see is what you get about Duterte and this is what makes him tick with the Filipino people.
But when some entity or group of people look at events beyond the context of having fun and connecting with the crowd by pure entertainment as Duterte is used to doing when meeting with his countrymen abroad, then that is the time when problem arises. It could even get worse, as it happened in South Korea, when malice is imputed.
Duterte is not a comedian but he uses his antics to make people laugh and identify himself with them and this is what endears him to the people.
This was a time for laughter and not for retribution, which Duterte is also wont to make.
This is exactly what happened when Duterte asked an unidentified audience member to kiss him in exchange for a book he was handing out.
Since when has kissing been ‘sickening’ and a ‘despicable display of sexism and grave abuse of authority’ when the recipient herself was forewarned not to take it seriously as it was just for fun, a gimmick in fact?
Ms. Kim was game enough and went along with Duterte’s strategy of entertaining his countrymen, saying later that the kiss did not mean anything and it was done to make the audience giddy.
So the question is: if the kiss on Ms. Kim’s lips did not scandalize her, why would it matter to a group of sanctimonious people?