Teodoro proves doubters wrong
By Jocelyn Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—As if to prove that he can connect with the masses, Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro ate with his hands when he met with poor fisherfolk at a campaign sortie in Muntinlupa Thursday.
Teodoro sat to a simple meal of fried tilapia, pork and chicken adobo, tomatoes and hardboiled eggs with members of the Nagkakaisang Samahan ng Maliliit na Mangingisda ng Muntinlupa (Nagsama), an umbrella organization of fisherfolk from the eight barangays (villages) of Muntinlupa.
“That one does not know how to eat with his hands,” observed one lady as she joined a crowd to watch the Harvard-educated scion of the prominent Cojuangco family go through an initiation of sorts.
But Teodoro proved the doubters wrong. He proceeded to squeeze the juice of a tomato on the rice and pork on his plate before shaping them into a mound and going at it with all five fingers.
Teodoro has in the past engaged soldiers in boodle fights—a military style of communal eating in which soldiers literally attack mountains of food arrayed on a long table covered with banana leaves—during his stint as defense secretary.
Talking while peeling off the shell of a hardboiled egg, Teodoro said it might well be true that his infomercials are not reaching the poor. He said occasions like the one he attended Thursday would help get his message across to the D and E classes.
But there were also “other factors,” not just the infomercials, that were affecting his popularity, he said. Asked what these could be, he just gave a knowing smile.
Observers have ascribed Teodoro’s poor performance in the surveys to his ties with the unpopular President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
On Wednesday, Lakas-Kampi-CMD vice president Prospero Pichay blamed Teodoro’s P400-million infomercials for his weak showing, saying the message they were trying to put across was essentially flawed.
The TV commercial shows Teodoro, a trained pilot, switching on the controls of a plane to get ready for takeoff.
Defending his TV ad, Teodoro said he believed that the masses can relate to it, as the airplane could be taken as a symbol of progress.
He recalled how as a defense secretary flying to almost every corner of the country, he would see people from poor villages get very excited whenever airplanes would hover above them.
“They shout ’Lipad tayo! Lipad tayo!’ (Let’s fly, let’s fly),” he said.
But he said he would take Pichay’s suggestions with “due consideration.”
“At the end of the day, it’s really about working hard to get my ratings up,” Teodoro said.
Teodoro decried candidates’ penchant for promising the voters “paradise.”
He said the dangers of banking on politicians’ “promise of a paradise” was that it breeds false expectations, cynicism and, eventually, indifference among Filipinos.
He said it would be more productive if politicians would teach Filipinos the limitations of government and where citizens’ involvement must begin.
“Let us educate our countrymen who are fed these kinds of information that there are only things that the government can provide and things that the people must work for themselves,” Teodoro said in an address to more than 500 students at the University of Perpetual Help in the Las Piñas bailiwick of the Nacionalista Party’s Sen. Manuel Villar.
“I cannot promise an end to poverty, just the road to recovery,” he said, explaining to reporters later that what he wanted was to introduce the idea of “partnership” with government.