Readers of this column know that I rarely surrender my space to others in the form of extensive passages quoted verbatim. But today I willingly cede my allotted quota of words, editing only for style considerations, to someone who calls himself “Tomcat,” who recently wrote the following open letter (via Facebook) to leading presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino:
We were classmates at the Ateneo and I have no doubt that you would remember me even if we were not close. Hint: I was one of those who ribbed you about the low grade that Father Kreutz gave you in math because you could never seem to get your fractions right. Remember going ballistic over that ribbing? [Reverend Wiliam “Bill” Kreutz, SJ, is a long-time Ateneo teacher from New York who founded the Jesuit Volunteers of the Philippines—JR. All subsequent bracketed phrases are mine.]
Anyway, reading the psychological report that was posted on the Internet a few days ago certainly made me remember you. I heard you say on the news that the report was fake but you did admit that there were some things in it that were true. “Part truths” I think were your exact words. It fascinated me enough to want to read the report carefully to check out which were those things that were true.
Obvious things first, those facts that any of our classmates can confirm if asked. One of these is, as the report says, you have a labile disorder. This is whole truth. Even Father Gorospe would be distracted by your drooling during our oral exams. [The late Reverend Vitaliano Gorospe, SJ, was connected for a long time with the Ateneo Theology Department.] Father Ferriols, who made a point of showing he didn’t like you, would make side comments about it that led your classmates to give you the nickname “Cooper,” a reference to Cupertino school where we would teach Catechism to retarded children. I, however, never called you Cooper. [Reverend Roque Ferriols, SJ, taught Filipino Philosophy at Ateneo.]
The report says that you have a “major depressive disorder.” Well, I honestly don’t know if that is true. What I do know is that in school you were very temperamental and had sudden mood swings. Isang minuto, nakikikain ka kay Brudda Francis, maya’t maya nagagalit ka na. Many of our classmates can attest to witnessing scenes like this.
The report said that you used to go with your mom to see Dr. Manuel Escudero. That is a whole truth. I remember seeing you at Tito Maning’s high-rise apartment on Roxas Boulevard when we were still kids. Tito Maning was a consultant with the WHO here in Manila but he was also a psychiatrist who treated only the high society people in Manila. Even Imelda Marcos was his patient. Unfortunately, so was my mom who suffered from insecurities due to my dad’s numerous infidelities.
Tito Maning’s wife, Tita Jo, was a very good artist who had a couple of exhibits of her work before they left Manila for good a few years after martial law was declared. They lived in Topeka, Kansas. After they left, I kept a correspondence for a while with their very cute daughter Nina who I am sure you remember. I had such a crush on her. Maybe you did too. She used to talk to us “little folk” in the sala of their apartment while the “big folk” would lock themselves in the room and discuss “big folk” matters. She wanted to go to ballet school or some dance school which she did, I think, and I eventually lost track of her.
About your smoking marijuana, I also can’t say if that is wholly true. What I do know is that you would try to tag along with a group of students that would hang out with Ma’am Gloria Arroyo. [Yes, President Arroyo herself.] Mga students niya sa Economics. She was always surrounded by bright and handsome students kaya hindi ka pinapansin. Pati si Ma’am Placer, she never gave you the time of day kasi people said you were “medyo weird” and your grades were mababa per her standards.
Pero, you still tried to hang out with those guys. Trying hard to belong ba. I know those guys would drink na kasama pa si Miss Rosales na pag lasing na, kumakanta ng Spanish songs in Spanish. They would drink dozens of bottles of beer at Shakey’s Katipunan because Mrs. Ramos (our Spanish teacher in case you don’t remember) owned the restaurant. This group was also known to also smoke joints in the college auditorium, up in the closed space where the spotlights were. So, if you were hanging out with them then, you were probably also smoking marijuana too.
The report said you had a flight attendant girlfriend. This is another whole truth. I will not mention her name here to protect her but she was a PAL stewardess. I found out about this because I was on a flight with Father Samson [probably Ateneo de Davao president Reverend Antonio S. Samson] once and she was the one who seated us. When she found out we were from Ateneo, she introduced herself and said she was the girl friend of an Atenean and mentioned your name. Father Samson then asked jokingly if you were a good boyfriend to her. She shrugged and said you were “okay” but she was bothered because you were “too conservative.” You didn’t even like to kiss her daw because you were saving her for the wedding night. And you insisted that she dress very conservatively. Jealous boyfriend ka daw. No wonder that relationship ended. Maybe that’s why you got so depressed over it.
About the report. I know that [Ateneo-based Jesuit psychologist Reverend] Tito Caluag is one of your best friends. His group of “friends” are some of the richest and most influential people in the country today. I know that you used to frequently visit his home. He hosts get-togethers where things that are too esoteric for me are the subjects of discussion. At one time, this group of yours even discussed the ousting of [Ateneo president] Father [Bienvenido] Nebres because Tito Caluag had his own ideas on how Ateneo should be run. Maybe your closeness to him is why he was the one you went to when you were depressed and why he was the one who handled your case and signed your psychological report. To keep things quiet.
But I confess I actually don’t know. I do know that Tito Caluag was at one time your sister Kris’ father confessor. He may not be a very trustworthy father confessor, though, because many have heard him say aloud that “walang ginawa si Kris Aquino dito sa Ateneo kundi habulin si Alvin Patrimonio at mag-emote sa quadrangle”.
Anyway, yun muna. Good luck on your presidential run. If you become president of the Philippines, that would be really something, huh? From “Cooper” to “Mr. President” when brighter and more scheming Ateneans like Mar Roxas and Dick Gordon have not been able to make it is an achievement that Ripley should feature.
Your old friend,