Like most government servants, a president deserved a day off from a very busy schedule of running the country. But when he goes on a private trip abroad to shop or enjoy watching a Formula 1 race, the country deserves to be informed ahead of time.

The office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr was silent about his weekend trip to Singapore. Was the president and his family trying to hide something from the public about the trip?

It was very stupid because Marcos, his wife and sons were going to a very public event. His office could have announced the Singapore trip ahead of time to avoid such embarrassment.

Even for kings and queens of other countries, when they embark on a foreign trip, announcements are made because public funds might be involved.

Even if Bongbong Marcos was privately invited to watch the return of the F1 night race in Singapore, some public funds were used.

A president does not travel by himself. There is security detail around him and his family.

Forget about the plane fare because he will not take a commercial flight abroad. Who would shoulder the expenses incurred for the trip?

Forget also the nearly P400,000 he would throw away by staying in an elite club of Singapore officials and top businessmen at the Marina Bay to have a front-seat view of the race.

Marcos might have a good excuse that he paid for the trip with his own money. After all, the Marcoses have fabulous wealth and the government still has to recover half of the estimated $10 billion stolen by his late father, the dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Sr.

But what is revolting is the spin that his press secretary, Trixie Angeles, wanted to sell to the public.

In her official Facebook post, Angeles said the president’s weekend trip to Singapore was productive. She said the president strengthened business deals and continued to convince investors to pour capital into the country.

Was Angeles trying to pull our legs? Only the gullible will believe her. The trip was neither a state visit or an official trip.

Marcos and his family were simply enjoying the race, the concerts and the shopping along Orchard Road or in Marina Bay, where there is also a casino in a boat-shaped structure atop a building.

The Office of the Press Secretary should not justify the pleasure trip. The only pictures that came out of the trip were those in the F1 race and the president hobnobbing with Singapore officials and businessmen.

It was not sure if there were official business discussions, but it was obvious these were just informal talks about anything under the sun and the Philippines’s interests were far from their minds.

Past presidents were prudent about traveling abroad for personal purposes. If there were presidents who surreptitiously went abroad, there were no public photos seen.

There were wild rumors that former president Rodrigo Duterte flew to China and Singapore for medical treatments during his time in office.

These trips remained unconfirmed because there were no videos or pictures showing him to be abroad.

But he did disappear several times from the public view for a week, which fueled speculations he was sick and was seeking treatment abroad.

Even former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo disappeared for some hours while on a visit to Hong Kong and was rumored to have played golf in southern China with top officials of ZTE Corp., a top Chinese telecommunications company that reportedly paid handsome bribes to secure a national broadband project.

That project was scrapped and a whistleblower went to jail for another case. A Chinese official who was involved in the deal was also punished and sent to jail for another reason.

The late former president Benigno Aquino III also made a disappearing act when he went to Tokyo unannounced to meet with leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

But Malacanang made sure the trip was announced as soon as he landed in Tokyo and met with Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim and other leaders, including Mohagher Iqbal.

Aquino had to keep the trip secret because of the sensitivity of the meeting, but announced it anyway when he was there.

Fidel Ramos was the most transparent among the presidents. A daily medical bulletin was released when we went to the Makati Medical Center because of an aneurysm. He survived, and died nearly 30 years later.

Transparency was important in governance. If Bongbong Marcos was so ashamed to inform the public about his personal trip to Singapore in the middle of the food crisis in the country, he could have instructed his press secretary to make an announcement without fanfare.

Instead, the press secretary waited for the president’s pictures to be posted on social media, including those posted by the Singaporean prime minister, before making an untruthful statement, a spin to justify the trip.

For the public, there are only two important things. The public does not care if Marcos wanted to enjoy watching an F1 race.

For them, they wanted to know if public funds were spent on a personal trip. They also deserved to be told when a president would be traveling abroad on a state visit, an official visit, or on a personal visit.

The saddest part is the president seems to be enjoying the trappings of power when the country suffers with food shortages, rising prices, and weakening peso.

This is a time for belt-tightening. The world does not know when the war in Eastern Europe will end or when the coronavirus pandemic will be defeated permanently.

These two conditions have impacted the global economy and the Philippines is not immune to global supply chain problems and food and energy price shocks.

Bongbong could have turned down the invitation to watch the F1 race. There could be some other time when economic conditions in the country are better.