Watch 'Obama' Get a Tummyache in Manila

Controversial New Spot Shows What Happens When the Prez-elect Gorges

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Roger Pe Roger Pe

It is customary for world leaders to call the newly elected president of the United States. So after returning the calls of heads of G8-member countries, including that of Down Under friend Australia and Middle East pal Israel on the week of his election, Mr. Obama called Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. On Nov. 17, Arroyo was the first Southeast Asian country leader to receive such a call. And not only did "President GMA" receive a call, but a courtesy visit from "Barack," no less.

So what happens on the visit? A state dinner in Malacanang, the historic official residence of Philippine presidents, featuring some of the best in Philippine cuisine. The menu: "kare-kare," a Philippine entree whose main ingredient is either ox tail or tripe stewed in peanut sauce to delectable tenderness. It is served with a de rigeur condiment U.S. immigration officials are very familiar with -- the heavenly "bagoong" (shrimp paste). On a long table with bodyguards in barong (official native upper-body attire) "President GMA" stresses a double entendre --the dish is "oks," meaning "A-OK" and cooked with ox, 2009 being the Year of the Ox.

And what happens next? "Barack" is hit, not with a shoe but with "impatso," a funny local word for indigestion. He slumps on his chair and the guards come quick to the rescue. "President GMA" slides like a camera with a dolly machine on her nimble feet to his side and frantically hollers for Motilium.

The anti-dyspepsia over-the-counter capsule Domperodone Motilium is advertised as handy remedy for Filipinos during the yuletide season's culinary bacchanalia, where the world's longest Christmas celebration of roasted pig, ham and other food stuffs happens. "President GMA" assures "Barack" that he'll be fine in 30 minutes. Meanwhile, she offers him "kape barak," a strong Philippine coffee bean variety, a double pun to mean the coffee and Mr. Obama's nickname.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's only a TV commercial. The spot, created by TBWA SMP (Santiago, Mangada and Puno) Manila and directed by filmmaker Eric Matti, broke in broadcast media Dec. 19. Now on YouTube and creating a lot of buzz, people find it hilarious and a winner.

The production team had done an excellent job, especially casting for the main roles. But on Facebook, Noy Dy-Liacco, Nestle Philippines' corporate communications officer, says otherwise: "The ad which spoofs Presidents GMA and Obama shows lack of courtesy of their respective positions. Obama as a careless dinner guest is a shallow attempt at humor."

The Nestle executive adds: "Whoever approved this campaign should read Martin Lindstrom's 'Buyology.' Celebrities help sell products as long as what they do in the ad is congruent to real life."

Back on Facebook, the TV commercial is being forwarded and passed on by friends to their friends creating a growing snowball of comments

Now you know who you're gonna call when "impatso" strikes.

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