MANILA, Philippines -- (Editor's note: The new president of France assumed office within nine days of the run-off. His inauguration is a model of simplicity, as noted by the author.)
IN the US, the President elected in November is sworn into office at noon of January 20 the following year or about 76 days after his election. After the oath-taking, he delivers the inaugural address lasting 30 minutes or more. Thousands at the grandstand join him in viewing a parade in his honor.
After a few hours of rest, he and the First Lady attend the so-called premier-night dance with hundreds in attendance. The following day, January 21, he starts working at the White House Oval Office.
In Manila, the President elected on May 10, 2010, was sworn into office on June 30, 51 days after the election. Before the 1987 Constitution, presidential elections were held in November followed by the oath-taking on December 30.
The budget for the Presidents' inauguration in Manila and Washington, DC could run to millions of pesos or dollars. In Britain, the party that wins a majority in the House of Commons is represented by a leader who automatically assumes office as prime minister after the traditional audience with the Queen.
Simplicity in France
Let's talk about the run-off election for President of France on May 6, a Sunday. Socialist candidate Francois Hollande won 51.6 percent of the votes. On the ninth day, May 15, he was welcomed to the Elysee Palace by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy who led him to the presidential office.
To Berlin the same day
After brief ceremonies, the 57-year-old Socialist leader took a plane to Berlin to start the first round of talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, conveying a different vision on how to save the single currency bloc. Hollande named his new prime minister, Jean Marc Ayrault, long-time ally and the head of the Socialists' parliamentary bloc.
Small crowd only
No foreign heads of state were invited to this low-key ceremony for a post as leader of the world's fifth great power. Hollande laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It was raining hard and the President was soaked to the skin when he shook hands with war veterans and greeted well-wishers who braved the bad weather.
Transfer of power within minutes
Hollande then visited Paris City Hall, a swearing-in day tradition for the French President attended by the capital's elected and religious leaders. He then signed the notice of formal transfer of power as the seventh President of the Fifth Republic and only the second Socialist.
There's no estimate of the small expense for Hollande's inauguration at the small hall of Elysee Palace. To a group of dignitaries, the President said: ''Europe needs plans. It needs solidarity. It needs growth.''
Barangay chairman's inauguration
Years ago, a young candidate for barangay chairman in one Panay town beat a veteran barrio politician. His proud parents prepared for an elaborate inauguration lasting two days. They invested close to half a million pesos to feed some 2,000 people, including voters and their families. It was fiesta time lasting two days of banqueting. It was reported that 10 pigs and two cows were happily slaughtered. Poor animals!
Cause of poverty
In the mid-1950s, two of President Magsaysay's top assistants, Raul Manglapus and Manuel Manahan, referred to town fiestas as the cause of endemic poverty in the country, especially prevalent in towns that honor known/unknown saints of the dominant church, Magsaysay himself was deaf to the ''new idea.''
May is fiesta month nationwide; the merry-making lasting two to three days involves tax money of unrestricted amounts for: 1) the training of ati-atihan dancers, 2) inviting known aspirants for senators, congressmans, and governor, 3) food budget for participants in cultural entertainment, 4) elaborate dresses and uniforms of street dancers, and 5) a parade of students, teachers, government employees, etc.
We are wondering if Filipinos in Mindanao, Luzon, and the Visayas before Magellan and Legaspi arrived in Cebu were as happy and well-off as portrayed in cultural festivals. Most historians today view as pure legend or fairy tale the barter of Panay for the price of one gold salakot. The expedition of Bornean Datus Puti and Sumakuel in the 13th century was called a work of fiction. (Comments are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org)