MANILA, Philippines - Political satirist Mae Paner, popularly known as “Juana Change,” finally got to meet President Benigno Aquino III on Friday. The problem is - the country's bachelor President did not seem happy to see her.
Paner, with singer Jim Paredes, was in Malacañang to grace the oath-taking of National Youth Commission Chairman Leon Flores III as youth representative to the Legislative-Executive Development Advisory Council. She said Flores asked her to come because his family is not in Manila.
"Sabi ko: 'OK lang, basta maipasok mo ako sa Malacañang.' The problem was - the dress code is strictly Filipiniana. I didn't have a Filipino-themed dress so I put on a malong and dressed like a Maranao. Naka-turban pa ako, mukha tuloy akong naka-disguise pero nakapasok ako," she told abs-cbnNEWS.com.
She said that after the oath-taking, the guests were all invited to come for the usual photo op. She said Aquino was looking at her and seemed to be thinking about something.
"We shook hands on stage. Hindi niya ako pinansin so sabi ko, 'Hi, Mr. President. How are you?' And he said: 'Good.' And then he turned away," she said.
Asked how she felt about the meeting, she said: "Ang feeling ko magsyota kaming nagtatampuhan...Ako ang sumusuyo at siya ang nagpapakipot."
It was the first time for Paner to meet Aquino after she released a video satirizing the President's purchase of a Porsche.
Aquino did not comment on the video but his Communications Secretary, Ricky Carandang, said he does not know if Paner still supports the Aquino administration.
Paner said the video was her version of "tough love" for the President because she did not agree with Aquino's purchase of a sportscar while many poor Filipinos are struggling with rising transportation costs.
She said that during the 2010 presidential election, she actively campaigned for Aquino because she believed in his platform of good governance. However, she also told Aquino that she would reserve the right to comment on Aquino's performance if he wins.
"Mag-textmate kami noon. Magkasama kami sa iba't ibang lugar. At that time, sabi niya sa akin: 'Mae, walang gulatan, ha.' That's why every time I made a video, I would always inform him beforehand so he would be able to see it," she said.
When the time came for her to release the Porsche video, Paner said she informed Presidential Political Adviser Ronald Llamas a day in advance so the President could see it.
"I sent it to Ronald Llamas. He saw it and told PNoy about it. Ang sabi niya, hindi raw natawa," she said.
Paner jokingly said she misses the President's text messages. She said she was hoping that Aquino would still send her a text message especially on her birthday.
"I sent him a text message. I also texted his sisters and Cabinet members. Andami nagsabi sa kanya (about my birthday) pero ni ha ni ho walang pagbati. Sabi nga nila, si President ay farmer. Kasi laging nagtatanim," she said.
She added: "Baka at the end of the day, kami ang magkatuluyan. Hindi ako handa!"
Issues, not personalities
Paner said that, contrary to the what some parties think, she still supports Aquino's program of government.
"I am not angry with him. I really want this government to work. I love him dearly but I want to be able to criticize if I feel a mistake was made. I don't want him to take it personally. Sometimes, when you love someone you have to tell him the truth and not just what he wants to hear," she said.
She rejected calls by Butuan Bishop Juan de Dios Pueblos that Aquino resign as President less than a year into his term or risk an alleged plot to remove him from power.
"OA [over acting] naman sila. Kasi sinuportahan ni PNoy ang RH (Bill). Sila kaya ang magbago. Simbahan pa naman sila. The least they can do is listen to the people. Problema nila. nagmamatigas sila," she said.
Paner recently released a video supporting the Reproductive Health Bill
Paner said her advocacy as a political satirist goes beyond personalities but seeks to promote the common good. After all, she said an active democracy should have a healthy exchange of opinions.
"My advocacy is very important because it puts people on their toes. Hindi lang dapat pinupuri pero dapat tsina-challenge. Hindi lang sinasabi yung maganda pero kung ano yung igaganda pa at kung ano ang makakabuti. Criticism is very important especially from people who care for you. We haven't joined the opposition. We care for the President and we are addressing specific issues, not personalities," she said.