More Than Words

March 12 word cloud from President Rodrigo Duterte

After the start of the quarantine in the Philippines, I started creating word clouds from the periodic speeches made by Philippines President Duterte. These were broadcast over the public and government owned channel, PTV.

These were generated from the transcripts of the presidential speeches from the following dates: March 12, 16, 30, April 4, and 6, 2020.

Consistent words are: Ako (me, or I), hindi (don’t, shouldn’t, negatory indication of action), baranggay (smallest government unit in the Philippines). Government, police, and patay (dead) are on the next tier. COVID, COVID-19, and coronavirus are around 8 mentions per speech.

China gets mentioned 3–5 times, doctors, health and medicine around the same.

Certain words crutch words and some articles were taken out, such as ang, yang, nga, yon,mga. Retained ano and kung. These are very much akin to looking for words and actions that pertain to leadership.


March 16
March 30
April 4; Duterte lashes out against critic and human rights lawyer Chel Diokno.
April 6

This has continued every Monday since then with more incoherent speeches, a cabinet that echoes all praises amidst criticism, and lack of actionable plans for the country against the pandemic.

Last July 27, the president gave his 5th and penultimate State of the Nation Address which was promoted by the state’s communication arm as the turning point of the government with a presentation of action and recovery plans. None were presented. Instead it was 100 minutes of confused garbled clouds showered with fresh tirades against criticism and misdirected obsession and obsolete notions of oligarchy.




Photography with space, landscape, and memory. Currently teaching at Ateneo de Manila University

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Aaron R. Vicencio

Aaron R. Vicencio

Photography with space, landscape, and memory. Currently teaching at Ateneo de Manila University

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