‘She came, she spoke, she left…’
Philippine Daily Inquirer
NOT EVERYONE IN JOSEPH “Erap” Estrada’s camp is happy about the presence (or lack of it) of Miriam Defensor Santiago as a guest candidate on his senatorial ticket.
For one, she is hardly ever present at the campaign sorties of the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino’s presidential candidate. The feeling—or at least two campaign stalwarts say so—is that she’s just feeding off Erap’s popularity and contributing nothing in return.
A rare appearance at a recent campaign rally in Bulacan, marked by Santiago’s usual rapid-fire remarks in English, apparently did not help matters any.
“She came. She spoke. And then she left… Pa-Ingles, Ingles pa,” one candidate complained.
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There’s a Voldemort of sorts in Erap’s campaign.
As in the Harry Potter series, his eager-beaver media handlers have imposed a rule on reporters and cameramen that is the rough equivalent of how the antagonist is described in the book “He Who Must Not Be Named.”
Not to be reported about or caught on video or still camera are ex-actress Laarni Enriquez, said to be Erap’s favorite mistress, and their child Jerica, now a young woman.
But mother and daughter made little effort to obscure their presence in the Visayas leg of the campaign. Wearing Erap’s bright orange campaign color, they simply glowed.
At the rally in Tacloban City one Thursday night, Jerica sat behind her father on stage and helped toss campaign T-shirts to the crowd just before he took the microphone. Most of the time, Laarni was backstage chatting animatedly with a female friend.
At one point Erap disappeared, and so did Laarni and Jerica. Only father and daughter came back after about 30 minutes, and the show went on. Christian V. Esguerra
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In Sagnay, Camarines Sur, Estrada thought twice before answering a question from the Inquirer on whether he believed that the presidential race was now a three-cornered fight between himself and the two survey leaders.
The latest surveys of the Social Weather Stations and Pulse Asia showed Estrada closing in on Sen. Benigno Aquino III (Liberal Party) and Sen. Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party). And he himself had expressed confidence that he had enough time to win in May.
Erap said he did not want to reply to the question, somehow disappointing reporters who wanted a hot quote from the man who was ousted from the presidency in January 2001 and is now rating respectably in the surveys.
But he managed to show respect for the cellar-dwellers. “I don’t want to comment on that,” he said, adding with a laugh: “Baka magalit pa yung iba, e (The other candidates might get upset).”
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Character actor Rez Cortez is one of the coordinators of the campaign sorties of Estrada, his running mate Jejomar Binay, and his senatorial candidates.
While Cortez often plays a villain in his movies, his sense of humor surfaces despite the pressures of campaigning under the hot summer sun.
Once, Cortez’s group aboard a coaster stopped for breakfast at one of the gasoline stations dotting the North Luzon Expressway.
The driver parked the coaster near the restaurant where the group chose to eat.
The vehicle made the driveway a lot smaller for other motorists, so a security guard approached the group and told the driver to move it to a parking slot farther away.
Cortez, scowling a bit, initially protested and asked why the coaster had to be moved.
“The driveway is only for light vehicles,” the watchman explained.
Cortez retorted: “Okay lang. That’s just a light bus.” Norman Bordadora
Administration standard-bearer Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. may be faring poorly in the surveys, but he is apparently impressing the ladies with his looks and eloquence.
At a recent Makati Business Club forum that had the former defense secretary as guest speaker, MBC executive director Alberto Lim observed the high turnout of women in the usually male-dominated meeting.
“I’ve never seen so many women in an MBC meeting before, and it’s not even Ladies’ Day,” Lim said, drawing laughter from the audience of about 300.
After Teodoro got done answering tough questions from businessmen critical of the Arroyo administration, a number of well-heeled women lingered, almost starry-eyed, for a photo op with him.
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On a road show in Muntinlupa City, Teodoro waved to the crowd as he headed to a coastal village to share a simple lunch with fisherfolk.
As his convoy passed a jeepney, a woman passenger clapped and shrieked: “Ang guwapo pala niya (He’s so handsome)!”
But some of the City Hall employees that he met with earlier in the day were disappointed that Teodoro’s running mate, Edu Manzano, was not with him.
“Where’s Edu?” they muttered to themselves. Jocelyn R. Uy
Tit for tat
The NP’s Villar asks in his ads: Naranasan nyo na bang matulog sa maikling bangko sa palengke (Have you ever slept on a short bench in the market)?”
“Yes,” says his closest rival, the LP’s Aquino.
And Aquino says he did it for two days in the basement of Malacañang at the height of the coup attempt against his mother’s administration in December 1989.
“I was supposed to sleep on [the dictator Ferdinand] Marcos’ dental chair, but two of our household helpers beat me to it. So I had to settle for the bangko,” Aquino said during after-dinner cocktails with reporters at the Gateway Hotel in Surigao City.
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Aquino has countered Villar’s sob stories with his own.
To Villar’s claim that he lost a sibling because his family could not afford to buy the necessary medication, Aquino said he lost his father from gunfire heard all over the world.
To Villar’s story of being forced to sleep in the middle of the street during Christmas, Aquino claimed that he suffered a similar indignity when his mother and sisters were forced to strip down every time they visited his detained father.
What Aquino cannot match is Villar’s claim of having swum through a sea of garbage.
But he said: “I really doubt that. At Villar’s age, I don’t think the seas in his youth were dirty. So I don’t know what sea of garbage he swam in.”
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Aquino has made an unusual request to TV reporters dogging him on the campaign trail.
He asked that they take shots of him at the start of the campaign day, when his yellow shirt with the ubiquitous ribbon and Philippine map is still newly pressed.
Aquino wears a medium-size shirt, but with all the pushing and pulling from adoring fans, it’s an XXL at the end of the day.
But at least it hides the pants that keep falling below his waist and prevents the public from taking a peek at his white Jockey briefs. Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Vice presidential candidate Bayani Fernando has been asked several times what he intends to do under a Richard Gordon presidency.
Bagumbayan standard-bearer Gordon himself said he wanted Fernando to be his infrastructure czar because of the latter’s experience in public works and background in mechanical engineering.
Fernando likes the idea, but would like to take it one step higher. He wants to be Malacanang’s official “bastonero” or disciplinarian.
“Papaluin ko sa puwit ang mga hindi magtatrabaho (I’ll spank all the slackers),” he told reporters.
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No, Fernando does not mind that the new chair of the Metro Manila Development Authority painted all the pink overpasses green.
“I feel elated. They have to go to that extent to erase the memory of me,” the former MMDA chair said.
Kibitzers were quick to say that Malacañang was probably behind the move to paint the overpasses green as an added boost to Teodoro’s candidacy. (Green is Teodoro’s campaign color.)
“While I have no ill feelings, I heard that Gibo has no hand in it and does not support the move because it does not really help…,” Fernando said.
He also lamented the fact that people in government failed to appreciate the value of the color pink: “Yes, green stands for the environment, but pink indicates ‘in the pink of health.’ It’s supposed to be more holistic.”
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A TV reporter noted that crowd-drawer Kris Aquino had begun to join the campaign sorties of her brother, the LP standard-bearer.
On at least one occasion, Kris was credited for the good turnout of people who came to welcome Aquino.
“Why don’t they vote for Kris? That’s okay by me,” Fernando said.
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Fernando is 63 years old and has a Senior Citizen’s card issued by the Marikina City government headed by his wife, Mayor Marides.
Does he use the card?
“Pag walang chicks (If there are no young women around),” he quipped. Cathy C. Yamsuan
Committee of silence
Reelectionist Senators Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr. and Lito Lapid drew the loudest applause at the Lakas-Kampi-CMD proclamation rally in Antipolo City, proving their mass appeal.
Just by waving a hand and smiling, they drove the crowd wild.
Revilla had the women swooning with a short speech.
As usual, Lapid just stood there without saying a word. Said an observer: He has survived the Senate for six years as chair of the “committee of silence,” so why change?
Edu Manzano, their fellow movie actor, was also well-applauded, until he bored the crowd with a speech in English that made him sound like a corporate executive.
Perhaps he should take a leaf from Lapid and Revilla, said another observer. Fe B. Zamora
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Yet another artista, Vicente Sotto III of the Nationalist People’s Coalition, was disheartened to learn that he was No. 53 among the 60-plus candidates for the Senate.
“I was worried that people would have a hard time scanning for my name on the ballot because it’s nearer the bottom than the top,” Sotto said.
And then, he said, a friend pointed out to him that the Sotto Law (or Press Freedom Law), which was authored by his grandfather-senator, was also known as Republic Act No. 53.
Now Sotto thinks being No. 53 on the list is a good sign. Cathy C. Yamsuan