Dept of Marites

Published May 19, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Jullie Y. Daza


Jullie Y. Daza

If he had his way, President Duterte would put it to a vote: Should we call ourselves the Republic of Marites?

To the amusement of his cabinet, who were visibly taken aback by the President’s playfulness with the name of a girl – how many thousands of them are out there? – PRRD commented, “So many tsismosas.”

A former president, the father of the incoming President, once issued a decree forbidding “rumormongering” as a crime. Sure, it was Martial Law then, but was it necessary? The only sample, if memory serves, was Ariel Ureta getting caught for saying something like “Bisikleta ang kailangan,” which was considered tantamount to mocking the 1081 slogan, “Disiplina ang kailangan.” Ariel’s punishment was to pull out the weeds, or something like it, in Camp Crame.

Strictly speaking, there’s a difference between gossip and rumor. According to a male friend, gossip is what “chicks” do, rumor is what “cats” spread. (Begging your pardon if chicks and cats are outdated references.) Going by the dictionary (American Heritage), gossip is “rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature,” while rumor is “a report of uncertain origin and accuracy; hearsay.”

Curiously, what talk or report or hearsay did the President catch that day that he felt he had to share his humanity by titillating his listeners and dropping the name of Marites (sans cousins Marietta, Marisol, Maris, Marina, Mariposa) in such august company?

The last time PRRD made a slip of the tongue – which is usually how tsismis starts – he stated clearly and audibly, “I have fired six cabinet men” to remind citizens that he was serious about weeding out corrupt officials. Because he never revealed the real reasons why the six, one at a time, were let go, the people were expected to think they had resigned for personal or other reasons. A couple months ago, DENR Secretary Cimatu, the ex-general who performed the herculean task of cleaning up Boracay in record time, resigned and was replaced by an oldtimer in the department, Jim Sampulna; no barrage of press releases to announce the switch.

Mr. President, with millions of bucks worth of intel – another word for gossip? – working for you, please share some choice tidbits with Marites before you leave next month.