Not-so-late night with Obama
by Sankage Steno
Here’s the unedited transcript of my interview with the husband of Michelle Obama, Mr. Barack.
Sankage Steno: Mabuhay! Welcome to the Philippines.
Barack Obama: Thank you. Selahmat.
SS: I see, ano… um, you’ve learned a Tagalog word already.
BO: Of course. That’s Diplomacy 101, very basic, a no-brainer. They say if you want to exploit other people, you have to first learn how to speak their language. Wait, I’m not supposed to say that. Can we start over again?
SS: That’s all right, sir. Ano, um, I’ll just edit that part later.
BO: Great. You see, I have a reputation to preserve and worry about, and my country does not lack in bad publicity. That’s what we get for being the most powerful in the world. It does suck sometimes.
SS: Yeah, but, ano, bad publicity is still publicity, right?
BO: Yes, I have to agree with you. But right now, what we need is not publicity. We need stronger ties with our allies and a deeper understanding of the situation here in the Pacific Rim. We both know, you and I, that your neighbor, that big bully to your west, is flexing its military muscles right in front of you. You can’t just let it pass and do nothing.
SS: Um, sir, ano, are you referring to the United States? Is that the big bully in the west you’re talking about?
BO: You’re funny.
SS: Joke, joke, joke!
BO: Enough of politics for now. It’s my first time here in the Philippines. I never thought it would be this hot here in your tropical nation. My armpit’s sweating just by sitting here still. I’ll be forced to take a bath because of this. It’s been a while, I should admit.
SS: You should, sir. I mean, ano, you should take a bath every day for proper hygiene. We don’t want naman the most powerful man in the world to get sick and all. That would be very bad especially for the people who depend on you.
BO: For a moment I thought there was something lost in translation. And I was right. Glad you clarified your statement.
SS: Yes, sir. Ano, um, next question. This is not a very serious question. Ano po, um, can I have a selfie with you?
BO: Later, after the interview.
SS: Okay. Thanks. Um, ano, sir, have you tried eating any Filipino food?
BO: I tried halo-halo a while ago before the press conference with your president. T’was good, yeah, t’was good. I particularly liked the purple thing on top and the custard, too. It was sinful. Yeah, like I care.
SS: Wow, amazing!
BO: Yeah, amazing. But don’t give me bahloot. I can’t handle that one.
SS: Wow, amazing. So, ano, you know balut pala. I never thought. Wow. I never thought.
Um, sir, where will you, ano, where will you go after this?
BO: I can’t tell you that. That’s classified information. You know, for security reasons. But I’ll be here in your country until tomorrow afternoon. Then, I’ll head back to the White House. Have you seen it personally? The White House?
SS: Um, yes, sir. In Baguio. I went there last year. I saw the ano po, the white house there. It’s so nice. It’s amazing.
BO: What’s that? Bag… Bag-yo?
SS: Yes, sir. It’s the summer capital of the Philippines. It’s, ano, it’s found north of Metro Manila. If you want I can take you there.
BO: Oh no, thank you. I’m a busy man. Maybe some other time. You lost me back there. I was talking about the presidential house in the States, the White House. I didn’t know you have your own version here. Well, that’s good, I guess.
SS: Yeah, it’s good. It’s ano, very, very good.
BO: Wait a sec. You keep saying ‘ano’ like all the time. What does that mean?
BO: Ano. You keep on saying that. Is that a local expression or something?
SS: Sir, what?
BO: I said, you keep inserting the word ‘ano’ in your sentences. I wanna know if it meant anything in your language.
SS: Yes, sir, what?
BO: Fuck. Oh, I’m sorry. Never mind. Please cut that part later when you transcribe this interview. Jeehzuz, that was… argh!
SS: I’m sorry, sir. Did I offend you? I just answered your question.
BO: No, never mind. Let’s just proceed and wrap this whole thing up.
SS: Ok, sir. Ano, um, that’s a wrap!