A tale of two photos


[Photo credit: Inquirer]


[Photo credit: Rappler]

92 Responses to “A tale of two photos”
  1. Jes says:

    Keep your friend close and your neighbor closer

    • Joe America says:

      I have this idea that when the Chinese can strike up that kind of Obama/Aquino camaraderie, then Southeast Asia will be a kinder, more prosperous place. But they can’t ORDER it to happen. They have to truly respect the Philippines.

      • Jes says:

        I agree. It starts with self-respect and promoting self-interest first.

      • Joe,

        I have to admit your tale of 2 photos, wasn’t as clear as this tale of 2 photos (I pick Nieto, looks like a Latin James Bond– JP couldn’t make her mind up),

        So the 1st picture is of Obama and Aquino in a meeting, then Aquino with what looks like an entourage, and Xi with one aide.

        Meeting pics are a dime a dozen,

        • And there should be a rule where all world leaders walk in line (shoulder to shoulder), ala Ocean’s Eleven.

        • Joe America says:

          Sorry you missed the point.

          • I get the whole Xi (China) being ostracized bit on the red carpet,

            but is this Obama/Aquino “camaraderie” real, or just simply a product of US/Philippine relations—- I mean, aside from Obama’s “pivot” to Asia, is there really more to it, or is this just another meeting, that happens all the time.

            What, besides the military and diplomatic stuff, is Obama doing with Aquino that makes this “camaraderie” something special— ie, Reagan/Thatcher, is my question. ex. How many times has Obama made official visits to see Aquino in the Philippines, vice-versa. What programs specific to the Philippines is the US undertaking, etc.

            • It looks real to me, and Obama is very relaxed in the Philippines… one should not forget that Obama spent some of his childhood in Indonesia.

              Well, my ex-nanny from Cagayan would probably say “of course, Obama is not white, it is normal he will respect us more than the others”, OK that is MRP style talk… but his being a Democrat and having fought for respect (birth certificate issue) back home will make Obama someone who knows how to give more respect to poorer countries than say Donald Trump, Dubya Bush or Ronnie Reagan… OK Trump might face off China but the Philippines could get caught in the middle if its leadership is weak – it won’t get easier…

          • My issue here is this whole “Mean Girls” mischaracterization of Xi on the red carpet— the point is that China (Xi) can walk like a bad-ass alone on any red carpet (maybe except for the Oscars). The name of the game is to quell the Dragon.

            That’s Chile forchrissakes, all they have are earthquakes and sink-holes. Aquino should be talking to the hot chic (China) not Chile (not hot, at all). That’s the James Bond-thing to do, so we’re celebrating the wrong thing is my point, Joe.

            • This is how one faces off an unfriendly power, for example…

            • Now this is equal footing, bring back Sarkozy,

            • Joe America says:

              It’s easier to debate the point if you make it. The point is the measure of camaraderie built on respect. The “little dog” can’t do that, and Xi has no intention of bridging the divide with the Philippines, or he would do so. He expects President Aquino to cater to him, and President Aquino is wise not to do that. It is interesting that no one else in the parade talked to Xi, either. No one wants to get close to the dragon lest they get fried in the home town newspapers. In another video parade today, only Obama took the initiative to be cordial with Xi . . . because he does not have to worry about who is the bigger dog.

              In photo 1, I was struck by the smiles from both sides, a natural comfort. In photo 2, I was struck by the isolation of China, which cannot be cured unless China recognizes and respects her neighbors, and wants it cured. If you have not read it, look up my post “Why Mayor Estrada is wrong on Hong Kong”, and you get my perspective on this.

              I’ll consolidate my responses here. The relationship between the US and Philippines is one of wary mutual regard and professional mutual interest. Both heads of state have visited the other in their respective capitals. They’ve negotiated EDCA head to head and the US conceded to the Philippines on most points raised. US donations or hard cash contributions to the Philippines are mainly for storm relief. President Obama did announce earlier this week that the US would give the Philippines two additional ships. The forces of the two nations train together regularly. The US provides the intelligence behind anti-terrorist activities in the Philippines, and on Chinese actions in the West Philippine sea. I suspect the US and Philippines have talked about which of 8 military bases here would be used by the US if EDCA is approved by the SC. Both states operate in a political arena, and neither President can act willfully or wantonly on anything.

              • The Chinese movie “Hero” from 2002 showed how the spirit of the times would change…

                a movie with the old idea of China as “All Under Heaven” revived…

              • ” He expects President Aquino to cater to him, and President Aquino is wise not to do that. “

                That’s sort of my point, Joe, everything Aquino did is textbook Diplomacy 101.

                So it’s nothing to be celebrated (also nothing to be ashamed of either)– strategical, photo-op, snubbing is all fine and dandy. But what would’ve caught people’s eye, is if Aquino suddenly put his arms around Xi, like a friendly embrace, inserted by way of a good joke (but from Primatology 101, is actually a show of dominance)— hit two birds with one stone, perceived detente and show of dominance. That’s a photo op to be proud of.

                I’ve met fixers in the Philippines, w/out status or education, finagle their way to the hearts of high society and high status individuals, w/ nothing but pure personal appeal. Look, I understand Aquino is short on charisma, I’m just saying these are the type of photos that blow people’s mind.

                As for US-Philippine relations, the US has dropped trillions in Af-Pak, Iraq, Libya, now Syria-Iraq, so obsolete Navy ships about to get cotton-balled at Suison Bay, is a drop in the bucket— it’s really insignificant. I’m not saying the Philippines is insignificant, I’m saying be like those fixers I saw ply their trade over there, gift of gab. The Philippine gov’t should be fleecing the US, during this “Asian Pivot”—- instead, it seems like you guys are perfectly content with the crumbs given. So I guess that’s my blanket contention here.

                @ President Aquino: Read “the Art of the Deal”. 😉

              • Joe America says:

                Well, he’s got the job, has gotten good results, and I would not suggest he do anything other than what he is inclined to do. He da man.

              • Ireneo,

                Every Marine I meet, when talking about China, I tell them to watch this movie—- awesome movie, and a great view into the Chinese mind. And this movie also (but just the first one),

              • LCPL_X, the idea of China being “All Under Heaven” is just as deeply ingrained into the Chinese mindset as the United States being global protector of democracy and free trade is ingrained into the American mindset – like Christians and Muslims have their beliefs, and like the Soviet Union used to believe that it was about to usher a new age of communism and free people from “capitalist oppression” worldwide, only that belief not as deeply fixed.

                Now sometimes I ask what the Filipino mindset is – is it just expediency and convenience? The part of the ruling class that still hangs on to the US alliance may be on its way out, just like those who were pro-Spanish became a holdover by the 1920s, and just a faint memory in the 1950s, and finally Spanish which was still in common use among the educated in the 1930s was abolished as an official language by Marcos in the 1973 Constitution… it could go exactly that way with China, looking at the present poll results…

                I have the feeling only about 10% of Filipinos, maximum and optimistic estimate, really think about the country as a whole… the rest think of what is best for their own group… maybe 20% of Aquino/Roxas supporters think of the whole country, the rest of their own convenience and earnings brought by international firms doing business with the country. This is fine, but the Filipino mindset I have known so far is my group, to hell with others, no broader vision, and no long-term thinking, benefits today even if things go down tomorrow.

              • Aquino/Roxas are doing a good job, but they can’t sell it that well, and most of their supporters are just the usual “kapit” (there for the benefits) crowd that most Filipinos are…

                Now Poe and Binay promise more goodies to certain groups of people, and the majority of the Aquino/Roxas crowd can’t sell the vision of those they are hanging on to, which is a good vision for a better Philippines in the medium term, but most don’t really seem to care.

                In fact I have the feeling most Filipinos do NOT want equal opportunities because they are content with their rent-seeking attitudes, are afraid to be competitive because they aren’t, even a large part of the supposedly modern crowd around Aquino/Roxas is fake modern…

              • Joe America says:

                Could be. Poe/Escudero, the new face of the Philippines. I have to try to swallow that, which reminds me of a dish I ate in Viet Nam. I asked the Vietnamese artillery captain who was hosting the bash what it was, and he said “it’s best that I tell you later.” Well, later never came because I got plastered from racing the entire Vietnamese artillery unit, one at a time, in chugging bottles of Ba Muy Ba (beer). They carried me back to my place and dumped me on the cot in my hooch to recover. The dish looked a lot like raw dog brains.

              • “LCPL_X, the idea of China being “All Under Heaven” is just as deeply ingrained into the Chinese mindset as the United States being global protector of democracy and free trade is ingrained into the American mindset”

                Exactly, man. While the China mind seems ascendant, FOXtards have their viewers convinced that it’s in decline, hence every other commercial on FOX is for gold—- now every other week there’s news of old people (viewers of FOX news) dying in their homes with stashes of gold,

            • Joe,

              When I saw picture #2, the first thing that came to mind was this ( and no doubt that same music was playing in Xi’s head ),

        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          I only have eyes for Hubby and Han Solo. 🙂

      • Jonathan says:

        The Chinese leadership don’t respect people they don’t think of as equals. They don’t, and will never, view the Philippines as equals in any way.

        There’s a line from a Deng Xiaoping speech that feels appropriate. ” If one day China should change her colour and turn into a superpower, if she too should play the tyrant in the world, and everywhere subject others to her bullying, aggression and exploitation, the people of the world should identify her as social-imperialism, expose it, oppose it and work together with the Chinese people to overthrow it.”

        • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianxia – THIS is the way Chinese think of the world, until now:

          Tianxia (tiānxià/tien-hsia; Chinese: 天下; literally: “under heaven”) is a Chinese word and an ancient Chinese cultural concept that denoted either the entire geographical world or the metaphysical realm of mortals, and later became associated with political sovereignty. In ancient China, tianxia denoted the lands, space, and area divinely appointed to the Emperor by universal and well-defined principles of order. The center of this land was directly apportioned to the Imperial court, forming the center of a world view that centered on the Imperial court and went concentrically outward to major and minor officials and then the common citizens, tributary states, and finally ending with the fringe “barbarians”.

          The center of this world view was not exclusionary in nature, and outer groups, such as ethnic minorities and foreign people, who accepted the mandate of the Chinese Emperor were themselves received and included into the Chinese tianxia. In classical Chinese political thought, the “Son of Heaven” (Emperor of China) (Chinese: 天子; pinyin: tiānzǐ; Wade–Giles: t’ien1-tzu3), having received the Mandate of Heaven, would nominally be the ruler of the entire world. Although in practice there would be areas of the known world which were not under the control of the Emperor, in Chinese political theory the rulers of those areas derived their power from the Emperor.

      • Donna says:

        It’s about time the Filipinos are respected by their neighbors esp the leaders of China. I salute Pres. Aquino for standing up to them and for doing his best to bring back pride and honor in our country despite a concerted effort to put his achievements down by highlighting the ” Tanim bala” incidents and the traffic situation.

      • LMM says:

        I cant imagine Binay is the one seated in front of Obama, hindi kagalang-galang…

  2. edgar lores says:

    Reacting as a Filipino, for me…

    1. There is no cringe factor. President Aquino looks to be entirely in his element — cool, calm and collected.

    1.1. This is unlike my embarrassed-for-my-country reaction before when I used to see Gloria in the company of the leaders of other countries. It was not just her physical height, but the fact that she did not seem to be engaged and engrossed with anyone… and anyone with her.

    2. Looking to the presidential contenders, I cannot imagine:

    2.1. Binay to be as relaxed.
    2.2. Poe to be as respected.
    2.3. Mar to be as engaged.
    2.4. Miriam to be as cool.

  3. surfer sison says:

    A picture, in this case two, is worth a thousand words

    Nice post sir JoeAm !

    May I know if Pnoy broke protocol by not walking in the middle between the Chinese and Chilean leaders ?

    Anyway, Xi now knows what it feels like to get a chilly reception. 😀

  4. karl garcia says:

    GMA listens to Obama whilevspeaking with someone else

  5. NHerrera says:

    A creative blog described with two photos of an important event. I dare say putting words would have been superfluous.

    Truly an interesting prelude to an Aquino and Obama end of “reign.” Aquino by June 2016 and Obama by December (?) 2016. A camaraderie indeed.

    • Mutual respect – something any enlightened Filipino nationalist (Aquino is one) would want.

      What a far cry from the Filipino-American relationship of thirty+ years ago, where the Philippines was either America’s lapdog or America’s bitch like in the picture below.

      Mar Roxas could still become a statesman, like Aquino became one over the years – he was not yet fully one during the HK bus massacre, has his learning curve.

      Two potential US Presidents can come – Trump or Hillary. How will Mar deal with them?

      Dealing with China and the USA properly is crucial for the future of the Philippines. Hopefully Mar will become as much of a statesman as Noynoy already is, right now.

      • Another Filipino President (a staunch anti-communist) and partner of the United States based on mutual respect was Magsaysay. He sure was nobody’s lapdog or bitch…

      • NHerrera says:

        When Roxas becomes President some hard-headedness when he is in the right is needed. Not being carried where the political wind takes him as Gloria did especially towards the end; and Poe may likely behave as her current campaign reveals so obviously. But I believe Roxas will graduate to the needed statesmanship.

        • Poe could be much worse than Gloria, especially with a VP Escudero…

          What do people like about her, that she pretends to have solutions, but offers none?

          • Joe America says:

            Right. That’s very good. The point is within each of us, I suppose. This made for an interesting blog, though, with all the photos providing interpretations. I think it will become a standard format for presentations, rather like looking at the photos in a magazine and skipping the text. Appropriate for the modern day attention span that lasts, what, 15 seconds at most?

  6. I see the Chinese leader distancing himself from the other two. The Chilean lady chief executive engaged ours and PNOY responded in kind. Yet the PDI reporter insinuated that our president snubbed Xi. How do one engage a non English speaking guest without an interpreter in sight?

  7. NHerrera says:

    Off topic

    The Philippine Star — Pulse: Grace 39%, Binay 24%, Mar 21% (November 19, 2015 – 12:00am)


    Sen. Grace Poe remained the most preferred presidential candidate in 2016, according to a commissioned survey by Pulse Asia.

    The survey, conducted from Oct. 18 to 29, showed Poe leading the 2016 presidential hopefuls with 39 percent, up by 13 points from 26 percent in September.

    The poll was conducted after the filing of the certificates of candidacy last Oct. 12 to 16.

    Vice President Jejomar Binay of the United Nationalist Alliance was in second place with 24 percent, up from 19 percent.

    Liberal Party standard-bearer Mar Roxas ranked third with 21 percent, up by a point from 20 percent in the previous survey.

    Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago placed fourth with 11 percent, an eight-point improvement from three percent previously.

    • LMarie says:

      I was hoping Binay’s numbers will drop dramatically.

      He has been out of the limelight or at least his attack dogs are. So I guess that did him good.

    • 18 statistical points, six months to go. Hope the SC will decide the soonest possible time.

    • NHerrera says:

      Summary of Philstar article on PA recent survey —

      Pres Candidates:

      Poe —— 39
      Binay —- 24
      Roxas — 21
      Santiago- 11
      (Diff.) — 5
      Tot ——- 100

      VP Candidates:

      Marcos — 21
      Cayetano 11
      Robredo- 7
      Trillanes – 6
      (Diff.) —-12
      Tot ——- 100

      • Has anybody looked into these questions: WHY do people want Grace Poe? WHAT do they think she has to offer them as opposed to all the other candidates?

        Going from there, show that their assumptions are fallacies. Or is it just BASTA factor?

        • Marie says:

          Irineo- that’s the same question I have.

          I know this has been discussed by the countless posts by Joe by I am continuosly perplexed by how Filipinos seem to root for her candidacy. This is the presidency for god’s sake.

          I was wrong in predicting Mar’s numbers will go up after the filing of candidacy last October.

          Clearly, people who will vote for her is leaning towards a candidate with a clean slate, in terms of experience and government issues.

        • NHerrera says:

          The BASTA fraction must be substantial (Basta I like Poe because she is a nice foundling and has solutions for everything; Basta I like Binay because of his rising from being poor but still eats with us in budol-budol). And recall the socio-economic class distribution: ABC/D/E = 10/60/30.

          • edgar lores says:

            The BASTA factor is the irrationality factor in politics.

            Irrationality is defined as “cognition, thinking, talking or acting without inclusion of rationality.”

            This is not to say that candidates are favored for no reason at all. There is a concept called “rational irrationality” which would explain the use of reason to arrive at irrational decisions.


            Here are two quotes:

            1. “Rational irrationality describes a situation where it is instrumentally rational to be epistemically irrational.”

            2. “When a large number of individuals hold systematically biased beliefs, the total cost to the democracy of all these irrational beliefs could be significant. Thus, even though every individual voter may be behaving rationally, the voters as a whole are not acting in their collective self-interest. This is analogous to the tragedy of the commons. Another way of thinking about it is that each voter, by being rationally irrational, creates a small negative externality for other voters.”

            The thing is we might intellectualize all of these things — but to emphasize the first sentence of the second quote — the consequent possible tragedy is real.

      • I need a bucketful of popcorn

      • Joe America says:

        Peculiar and highly depressing. Robredo accepted the VP slot on October 5.

    • Peter Penduke says:

      1. Grace took majority of Duterte’s?
      2. Bam now having second thoughts about his vote?

      If SC can’t decide before the printing of the ballots, the garvity of vox populi very hard to overcome, even for the SC. Popular opinions the SC can buck, but electoral vote?

      LP and supporters has to work harder. Hopefully, SWS will have smaller margin, otherwise, this might this is a big momentum shift.

    • SET decision on Poe’s citizenship unsettling rather than comforting


      The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) decision throwing out the petition questioning the citizenship of Senator Grace Poe is an uncomfortable one. The number of the votes and the members either voting for or against the petition are causes for serious concern.

      Inside the SET was a battle between legal minds and political minds – not on a political issue, but on a legal one – involving, as it does, a legal provision in the Constitution on the qualification of a senator who topped, despite being a neophyte, the 2013 Senate race and is now no less than a candidate for the highest position of the land: the Presidency.

      The score at SET last Tuesday was 5-4 with the majority voting to throw out the petition. The political minds won. Except for Sen. Nancy Binay, all the senators constituted the majority. The legal-minds – meaning, all the magistrates of the Supreme Court who are SET members – unanimously voted alike and lost. That is telling.

      Usually, cases in the SET involve counting and recounting votes filed by those who lost the elections. For example, the case of Secretary Mar Roxas against Vice President Binay deals with votes. The case of Senator Pimentel against former Senator Zubiri was of the same nature. Pimentel was successful in questioning the number of votes of former Senator Zubiri and having his votes recounted. Politicians are good in counting (or are they?) so they are majority in the SET. Though an arduous job, there is nothing much to counting in terms of any cerebral or scholarly challenge. It is purely mechanical.

      Rarely will the SET encounter intricate legal issues. And much rarer will it confront complex and novel issues with far-reaching effect and where the resolution requires so much depth and understanding of the law. That is why there are three members of the Supreme Court who are mandated to be members of the SET. They are the guides that will give direction to the SET in navigating and resolving vital issues dealing with the law and much more the Constitution – matters where the senators do not have any experience at all.

      And what could be more difficult than determining the application of the Constitution on matters involving the Senate’s topnotcher who could, given her consistently high survey ratings, also land the most powerful position of the land – the presidency?

      It is indeed very disturbing, at least at the outset, to see how politicians felt that their reasoning is better than judges over a legal issue.

      This is a case where I would have preferred a division of the votes of those learned in the law, namely Supreme Court Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Teresita de Castro and Arturo Brion. In that way, at least, I am assured that I will be reading well-written opposing views of people who have, many times over, interpreted the Constitution.

      The credentials of these justices are impeccable. Associate Justice Teresita De Castro has been a magistrate for 18 years, attended the University of the Philippines as a consistent honor student in law. She was one of the two SC justices who convicted, when they were still justices in the antigraft court Sandiganbayan, a popular President of the Republic – someone who won the election by a landslide – for committing plunder. That was no ordinary feat.

      The SET Chairperson, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, could have been Chief Justice of the Philippines. He has been a consistent nominee. That in itself tells us so much of his superior capability to grasp and resolve legal complexities. He graduated valedictorian cum laude of his University of the Philippines’ 1975 law class. Before becoming a magistrate, his reputation as a practicing lawyer was already well-known.

      Last but not the least is Associate Justice Arturo Brion. Undeniably, he has the best credentials among the sitting justices now in the Supreme Court ( and that includes the Chief Justice). He graduated cum laude and valedictorian of his 1974 law class at the Ateneo de Manila School of Law. He placed number one topnotcher in the bar examinations of the same year. He obtained a Master of Laws degree from the prestigious Osgoode Hall Law School of York University in Toronto, Canada. Prior to being appointed to the Supreme Court, he was a well- known labor lawyer in the private sector, a law professor, member of the Batasan Pambansa, Labor undersecretary, Foreign Affairs undersecretary and associate justice of the Court of Appeals. His perceptive ability to navigate legal problems is undisputed

      These three justices breathe and live the law. And yet they lost – to politicians – on a legal issue.

      And who are these politicians? They are: Senators Tito Sotto, Cynthia Villar, Loren Legarda, Pia Cayetano and Bam Aquino. Only Senator Pia Cayetano is a lawyer whose expertise, being the chairman of the Senate Committee on Family and Gender , appears to be family-law and not constitutional law. What experience do they have in interpreting the Constitution? What comfort do we derive from their perceivably partisan political resolution? It doesn’t help any that when this case was pending, reports quoted some leaders saying that at the end of the day, this will simply be a “numbers game.”

      I hope this issue reaches the Supreme Court. Let it decide it with finality.


  8. Xi says in his speech ” …. the Pacific is our common home.”..does that mean Pacific ocean is our common home..and let the China Sea / West Philippine Sea as theirs alone?

    • Mary,

      I think this is what he meant re the Pacific, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_RIMPAC#Participants

      “RIMPAC, the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, is the world’s largest international maritime warfare exercise. RIMPAC is held biennially during June and July of even-numbered years from Honolulu, Hawaii. It is hosted and administered by the United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet, headquartered at Pearl Harbor, in conjunction with the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and Hawaii National Guard forces under the control of the Governor of Hawaii. The US invites military forces from the Pacific Rim and beyond to participate.”

    • Joe America says:

      One of the flaws of the US/Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty is that it refers to attacks that occur in the “Pacific”, which technically speaking, may or may not cover the South China/West Philippine sea.

      • Oh my, OMG!…Pacific in the East only, leaving the west, north and south vulnerable? A flaw indeed, a major one if interpreted literally.

        • That’s a good question, Mary, but I think for the purposes of RIMPAC and Cobra Gold, which is SE/East Asia specific, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cobra_Gold#Recent_Cobra_Gold_exercises Pacific covers the West seas.

          From elementary Geography, I’ve always thought Seas were a subset of Oceans (ie. like the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas are considered part of the Atlantic).

          But legalese being legalese, I can also see Joe‘s point, “technically speaking, may or may not cover the South China/West Philippine sea.” But I doubt that when push comes to shove, the DoD, DoS will attempt to weasel their way on a technicality here— that just looks bad.

  9. This third photo should be added to complete the whole picture:

  10. A tale of 17 pictures and counting…

  11. R.Hiro says:

    Pnoy should remind Obama that we are lending him Php 1.88 trillion in dollars for almost no interest…

    While we still cannot afford to fund our own government…

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