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Duterte Stories that you probably didn’t know

stories of rodrigo duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte is the maverick chief executive of the Philippine Republic and has flipped the tables in his war with drugs. He is described as ‘meta’ politician and leads the Philippines in journey to a drug free society.

By the time rumors spread about him running for presidency, people have been earnest enough to know this guy who talks so much cuss but working his hardest as the Mayor of Davao City, and at the same time keeping his feet on the ground.

Most of his life is under public scrutiny. He is like a household name in Davao and now the whole Philippines. He is the most popular person in the Philippines, and he keeps the public on the edge of their seats every time he talks or decides on things.

So for this article, let us get to know who is Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte and what are some stories or actual encounters that some people had with him. There are many stories and personal testaments people say about him. Some are true, some still have to be verified of their authenticity.

Here are the stories about Duterte that you probably did not know: SEE ALSO: How I met President Duterte in Davao


Just like a normal teen, Digong was happy. He did whatever made him happy to pass time. He would play with his classmates in recess time and sometimes tease them a bit with friends. One of the stories was that he cut classes just to enjoy the views of the country side. This supposedly happened when he was still studying at the Ateneo de Davao High School.

According to his sister, Jocelyn Duterte, he was a rebellious kid. He would always, like many young teens, sneak out at night to go out and have some fun with friends. She described him as “rebellious but out of the box thinker”. As Digong would somehow think of either straight-forward or seemingly out of the box reasons just to make an excuse about his whereabouts.

Digong is described by his siblings as the hooligan of the family. He tend to sneak out at night and was the usual receiver of Nanay Soleng, Digong’s mother, scoldings. Nanay Soleng’s tough stance was, as his sister would put it, absorbed by Digong himself.

This is the Digong who, aside from being a sort of hooligan to his family, loved his parents deeply and have copied their way of life, their attitude. To others Digong might seem rude when he cusses.

But according to Ben Tulfo, he’d rather have talk to someone who curses a lot in public than those who don’t. His reason: they are much more honest than many people. It’s just that their thoughts are more expressed and it is the authentic expression of the person rather than acting it.


According to his friends way back in high school, college and even in law school would describe Digong as a tough-speaking but gentle-hearted guy. He would talk to his classmates in the same way a “macho man” would speak…but with gentleness.

He was very approachable and very easy to get along with, that is if you can be friends with him. Nope, Digong is not unfriendly or hard to be befriend but rather, he would choose his friends rather than befriend everyone that he can talk with.

DoD Secretary Perfecto Yasay was the President’s roommate in the former YMCA boarding house where he stayed most of his college years. Yasay described Digong as a serious student but has a knack for goofing around. He studied closely and brought out the ‘party Rody’ after school. Yasay also said that Digong also told him to court a girl he liked, who became Yasay’s wife later on. Digong told him, ‘Ligawan mo na yan baka ligawan pa ng iba.

Maunahan ka.’ So Yasay followed Digong’s tip and later married the girl. “I mean he was the least person you would expect to be that kind of guy. He was something more,” Sec. Yasay added.

After graduating college and getting his law degree, Digong took the bar exam and passed it with an average mark. He didn’t have high grades when we has a student. He had average or maybe above average grades but still, he didn’t sparkled above all his classmates. Former COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brillantes was once a professor of the President and in an interview with GMA 7, he told everyone that Duterte was not in the top of his grade list.

He was more like of an average guy. He even advised him that he should change his tone as his provincial or cebuano/bisaya accent spills his answers. “‘Aba teka muna. Napaka tigas ng dila mo. Di porket bisaya ka excused kana sa pag sasalita ng maayos na ingles. Do it again and better this time ha.'” Atty. Brillantes said in the interview. But that didn’t stop Digong from realizing his dreams. He studied religiously and passed law school in one taking. Here, you can see that Digong is very diligent. He didn’t mind his accent of “baloktot english (crooked english)” from graduating from San Beda Law School.


After getting his law license, Digong went home to Davao to practice law. He chose to be a prosecutor as he wanted to pursue criminals and subject them under the law and hopefully be punished for their crimes. He was a hesitant appointee for the Vice Mayoral post of Davao City.

The post was offered first to his mom, Nanay Soleng, by the late president Cory Aquino after the EDSA Revolution. Nanay Soleng did not accept the appointment and rather suggested that his son, Rody, to be appointed. He protested in it to his mom. “Nay, nganu ako man? Ug tingali masayop ko unsa nalang ang Dabaw (“Ma, why me? What if I make a mistake what would happen to Davao?”)?” Nanay Soleng responded, “Do not worry. Nia ang Ginoo, nia ko. Daghan kag makapangayuan ug tabang.'”

So he accepted the appointment and became the Acting Vice-Mayor of Davao City. In his tenure as Davao Vice Mayor, he showed flashes of brilliance as he went to the mountains to talk to the Lumad chieftains who are planning to do a “Pangayaw” to demonstrate their anger towards the NPA sometime in 1987.

To those who don’t know it, “Pangayaw” is a lumad term that means ‘a right to kill’, is an event where a tribe sets out to kill their enemies as to vent their anger on them. If they were not stopped, it would have been a massacre or a battle between two armed groups with a number of civilians caught in the middle. In 1988, he won his first election as the Mayor of Davao and started his Mayoral career.

In 1989, a group of prisoners staged an uprising and took hostage of a christian missionary group who was doing an outreach program for prisoners. It was dubbed as the 1989 Davao Hostage Crisis and Digong was personally appointed by then President Cory Aquino to resolve the situation as the Mayor and keep her tabs about it.

He did and when he went inside the DAPECOL, he asked the the hostage takers about their demands and negotiation of freeing the hostage takers. He noticed that one woman that was carrying a 2 year old child was among the hostages. The woman pleaded to the hostage takers to let the child go because she won’t be able to breastfeed the child as she was not the mother.

She was the sister of the mother and the child has not been fed for 12 hours and is crying out because of starving. Digong saw despair in the eyes of the woman and the child and he thought of something extraordinary: offered himself in exchange of the woman and the child. Surprisingly the hostage takers allowed this and released the woman and the child and took Digong in as replacement. For three days, he was a hostage and successfully negotiated for them to lay down their arms. And so many more stories.


Digong himself said it, ‘I don’t have the brilliance of (Ferdinand) Marcos, the smartness of (Fidel V.) Ramos or the eloquence of Miriam (Defensor-Santiago). All that I can offer the Filipino people is a good heart and common sense. Governance after all is just pure common sense.” And he did. 20 years in Davao and the DavaoeƱos have nothing but admiration and praise for their former mayor. Maybe this is the reason why they were able to convince the 16 million voters that propelled Digong to be the 16th president of the Philippines. Maybe that or something even more.

{Edited by Nonoy Avellanosa}


About the author: Ralph Bonotan


Ralph is a freelance writer in Davao. He is an IT personnel and teacher.


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