MANILA – Rains did not dampen the spirits of thousands of supporters and fans of outgoing President Rodrigo R. Duterte who attended the "Salamat PRRD" thanksgiving concert at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on Sunday.
The police said around 3,500 people flocked to the place that also served as venue for Duterte’s miting de avance in 2016 elections.
In an interview with reporters, event director Njel De Mesa said the thanksgiving concert was not only held to thank Duterte for serving the country the past six years, but also to express gratitude to supporters and fans who stood by the president amid criticism.
Among the attendees was 18-year-old Agatha Tolentino who described herself as a “solid Duterte supporter” since Duterte joined the presidential race in 2016.
“Gusto ko po masaksihan bago siya bumaba sa puwesto kasi ever since naging Presidente siya, di ko pa siya nakikita in person…Masyado akong na-amaze sa ginawa niya, for example yung ‘Build, Build, Build’ program malaking tulong sa bansa natin (I wanted to see the President before he steps down because I never got the chance to see him in person…I was really amazed by his accomplishments, for example, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program which will be a great help to our country),” she said in an interview.
William Arevalo, 63, said the Duterte administration’s crackdown against crime and illegal drugs helped make the country and his city a safer place to live in.
“Ang droga, criminal, sinugpo niya. Nabawasan ang mga adik (He suppressed drugs, crime. There are fewer drug addicts now),” Arevalo, who hails from Caloocan, said.
Pampanga-based Rachel Quesada said she did not think twice about attending the thanksgiving event even if it meant traveling to Manila from Pampanga.
“Since this will be the last time na makikita ko si (we will get to see) PRRD during an event, kahit galing kaming Pampanga, nag-travel kami (we traveled all the way from Pampanga),”
Quesada admitted that she did not always consider herself as a fan of the President, especially because of his manner of speaking which was sometimes considered “offensive” or “unpresidential.”
She, however, later realized that his tough-guy image was his way of making people listen to what he had to say.
She admired Duterte for being a like a “strict father” who had deep compassion for Filipinos.
“Maramdaman mo yung concern niya, yung care niya para sa mga Pilipino. Ang dami niyang nagawa. Ngayon lang ako na-in love sa Pilipinas (You would really feel his concern, his care for Filipinos. He has done so much. It’s only now I felt so much love for the Philippines),” she added.
Duterte arrived at the Quirino Grandstand a few minutes before 7 p.m.
Both outgoing and incoming government officials were also spotted during the event.
Various artists namely Andrew E. Chad Borja, Dulce, Freddie Aguilar, Ice Seguerra, Isay Alvarez, Jed Madela, Jimmy Bondoc, Martin Nievera, Moymoy Palaboy, Robert Seña, and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra performed during the concert. (PNA)