By Elinando B. Cinco
Never has an added consumer feature of a pocket-size gadget attained immense following more than the “selfie” component of mobile phones.
It has dwarfed the worldwide popularity of the Brownie camera and the Instamatic, both Kodak products, in the 1950s and 1960s, respectively, recent media reports claim.
No one will doubt that the “selfie” popularity induces the overwhelming commercial patronage of cellphones, iPhones, Smartphones, and other high-tech mobile phone contraptions. Aside, of course, from messaging and audio service.
The taking of photos of oneself is a 21st century “discovery.” The innovation allows the owner of the mobile phone to take picture of himself in a convenient and easy manner. It also allows him to join group-picture taking without the need for someone, not in the group, to press the camera shutter.
Expectedly, publicity ideamen, including those in Malacañang, have joined in the fad. This time it is President Rody as the focal point of the group photo.
Good for the events hounds, the idea is paying dividends. Palace “spin doctors” (I call them, “image sculptors”) have been using the pictures of surging crowds that usually follow after a DU30 speech. Their goal is to make the President the center of attention, with the cheering mammoth in the background.
Because of this advantageous situation, Palace “spin doctors” claim that even when the Chief Executive is out of the country, he still is the most popular “selfie” subject in those places that he visits.
And the Duterte 21st century photo phenomenon continues, even spreading wider throughout Southeast Asia, and even to China.
So whether DU30 is in Cambodia, Vietnam, Brunei, or Beijing, we all become witness to the emerging Asian leader that is being propped up by “selfie.”
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Meanwhile, one formidable offensive arsenal of the Duterte administration is countering a hostile press overseas. Amid adverse foreign perception of the government’s dismal human rights record, this is an urgent necessity.
For one, Malacañang has no effective, competently staffed foreign news division in the Office of the President. If it has one, it is seemingly of doubtful capability.
The only semblance of an overseas press division are the press attaches in our major embassies abroad.
Given those, their efficiency in waging a concerted overseas media campaign or an information drive is open to apprehension.
One fierce anti-Duterte onslaught is on the pages of The New York Times International Weekly. A negative report on the DU30 administration happens almost every other week
The New York Times-edited periodical is published as a regular supplement of 17 newspapers around the globe, the Manila Bulletin included, where it comes out as a 16-page Monday insert.
In its November 7 issue, the journal printed a scathing editorial entitled, “President Duterte’s Confusion.”
It pilloried President Rody on his plans of booting out foreign troops in the Philippines (“in two years’ time”), to revoking base-hosting agreements with the United States, and undermining President Obama’s policy of strengthening relations with Asian countries.
Also, the five-column editorial calls DU30’s approach to foreign relation counter-productive.
One Asian leader who advocates for the Philippines’ continuous close ties with the US is Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan. He told Duterte that in any disagreement with America, China is no substitute ally.