Duterte is TIME magazine’s most influential person


TIME magazine may have been one of the early international publications that criticized President Rodrigo Duterte’s relentless and bloody war on illegal drugs, with a cover article in September titled “Night Falls on the Philippines”, yet the same prestigious magazine will soon be ranking Duterte as its top most influential person for 2017.

Why is this?

Well, TIME has made it clear that its entrants for the annual 100 most influential people selection are recognized for changing the world, regardless of the consequences of their actions. Note that the official TIME 100 lists are chosen by the magazine’s editors.

For one who also landed on the Most Powerful People list of Forbes magazine, Duterte is sure making waves here and abroad.

It simply marks the man’s departure from the conventional style of leadership that Filipinos have been used to – both in words and deeds.

Duterte’s colorful language, his no-nonsense style of governance, his down-to-earth personality and his out-of-the-box thinking and assessment of things, not to mention his fearless show of political will no matter who gets affected for as long as it benefits the country and the greater number of people, is what has endeared him to Filipinos.

Giving Duterte an overwhelming victory during the election was a gamble that made many Filipinos winners, too.

The country has been always plagued with corrupt officials and people thought that this was the single critical reason why we never prosper as a nation.

Until Duterte came along as a candidate promising not only stamping out corruption in government but also waging war against illegal drugs and criminality did we realized how distinctive he was compared to the other presidential candidates.

People trusted Duterte’s persona to deliver his promises and never before have the people been so hopeful of the future. As he was able to make Davao City a livable place for its peace and stability, fingers were crossed that he could do the same to the whole archipelago.

And it looks like things are going the way Duterte has charted the course of the nation’s journey towards growth and respectability.

Duterte’s controversial anti-drug campaign, which according to reports has killed more than 8,000 people already, has caught the attention of international rights groups and foreign governments over alleged human rights violations and extra-judicial killings, but this has not stop him from forging ahead if only to show the whole world how critical and wide-spread the drug menace in the country is, infiltrating even the police, local government officials and the judiciary, among others.

Equally controversial is his show of belligerence towards the US and the EU for meddling in the affairs of a sovereign country and his shift of friendly relations towards China and Russia.

The Philippines may have won the contentious territorial dispute in the South China Sea as decided by the United Nation (UN) Arbitral, stating that China’s “nine-dash line” is invalid, but Duterte is not minding this at all, to the consternation of those lauding the decision, for the reality is that nobody, and nobody, can forcibly drive away/remove China from their formidable man-made islands turned military bases in the area.

While Duterte’s temperament and antics may displease, antagonize and enrage others, to him it really does not matter for he is just being pragmatic and having the interest of the nation and the welfare of his people foremost in his agenda of governance.

Duterte has not completed even a year yet in his presidency, but the things he has done for the country and the Filipino people is something atypical worthy of being chosen TIME magazine’s most influential person.


Time magazine honors two Filipinos


President Benigno Aquino

President Benigno Aquino

Not too many people coming from the same third world country are chosen to have some influence in the events of the world.

But when two Filipinos were featured in Time magazine’s annual edition of of 100 most influential people in the world, I just thought that it was something to crow about.

One, President Benigno Aquino, a pedigree politician, was chosen under the category of leaders and the other, Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga, a pediatric immunologist from the University of Massachusetts, under the category of pioneers.

There is no doubt that President Benigno Aquino is trying to make a difference as our country’s leader and his efforts are impacting the world scene and this is being recognized by world leaders.

Thanks to Aquino, the Philippines is no longer considered the sick man of Asia, but a rising tiger.

Despite global economic uncertainty, the Philippine economy has remained strong which is why the country is becoming a haven for foreign and local investments. This, of course, has been coupled with the government’s battle against corruption.

Time magazine also lauded Aquino’s support for the Reproductive Health Bill, which he signed into law late last year despite opposition from local Church leaders.

“Most important, he became the face of the regional confrontation with Beijing over its claim to virtually all of the South China Sea,” the magazine said.

“It is a brave stance, the long-term consequences still unknown,” it added.

Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga

Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga

While Aquino’s contribution is for the country, the recognition that Dr. Katherine Luzuriaga received was in the course of her collaboration and pioneering work with two other influential women/researchers, namely, Dr. Hannah Gay, a pediatrician at the University of Mississippi and Dr. Deborah Persaud, a virologist at John Hopkins Children’s Center, for discovering cure for AIDS in newborn babies.

The article about them said that the breakthrough came when they gave the infant, who contracted  Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the cause of AIDS, from its mother, anti-HIV drugs within hours of birth.

The found the drug to have successfully defeated the virus, such that the child, now  two and a half years old, no longer needs medications and has shown no signs of HIV.

The article went on to say that following the success with the newborn, it is hoped that adults may also benefit from the same rapid treatment immediately after HIV infection.

Although Luzuriaga was not mentioned as a Filipino and most likely do not speak the language, it was found out, however, that her roots are Filipino, having a father that still speak Filipino.

New nose for mutilated Afghan woman


Remember Ayesha, the 19-year old Afghan woman whose photograph without a nose was featured on the cover of Time magazine and whose story sparked an outpouring of sympathy because it also highlighted the plight of women in Afghanistan?

Not only was Ayesha’s nose chopped of by her husband, but her ears were cut off, too, when she was caught trying to escape from the fiend. This atrocity committed against her made her the poster girl of Taliban oppression.

She related her story then, saying, “When they cut off my nose and ears, I passed out…In the middle of the night it felt like there was cold water in my nose. I opened my eyes and I couldn’t even see because of all the blood.”

Ayesha survived this ordeal and managed to reach her grandfather’s house. She was brought to an American medical facility. From there she was flown later to the US.

Thanks to the Grossman Burn Foundation that paid for her surgery in Los Angeles, Ayesha has now a prosthetic nose and doctors hope to give her a more ‘permanent solution’ that may involve a reconstructive procedure of rebuilding her nose and ears using bone, tissue and cartilage from other parts of her body.

Ayesha recently received the Enduring Heart award at a benefit for the Grossman Burn Foundation for her remarkable endurance.