'Noynoy has come out of his shell'

‘Noynoy has come out of his shell’
By Aurea Calica
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino-Cruz, eldest sister of Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, told The STAR yesterday that her brother is coming out of his shell and he is “his own man.”

Contrary to claims that the senator can be pushed around and easily swayed or manipulated by people around him, his sister said he is proving to be the man of the house.

“Noy took after our Mom (the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino) in his being simple and humble. But many people see his being sincere, simple and humble as a sign of weakness, that he will just listen to anybody,” Ballsy said.

“But it’s not true, even if he’s quiet, he has always been the strong one among all of us. It’s hard to change his mind, he knows what is right or wrong. He is his own man, he’s tough, he’s got that inner strength just like our mother,” Ballsy disclosed.

Ballsy said it is good that people can see the difference between Noynoy on the sidelines when their mother was still alive, and now that he is the leading presidential candidate.

“He’s really coming out of his shell,” Ballsy said.

She explained Noynoy had chosen to be on the sidelines in deference to their mother, even if they were telling him to be more high profile on his own after he was elected Tarlac congressman and then senator.

“I guess there’s really nothing much they can say about Noy so they just invent things. But some are really absurd, weird,” Ballsy said, referring to the numerous allegations against Noynoy, particularly the fake psychiatric report that was spread through the Internet and later picked up by media.

She admits they never expected some of the attacks to be so below-the-belt, but now realizes “it’s part of the (political) game.” Obviously, she says Noynoy’s rivals will throw all the mud at him to destroy him before the people.

“But I think fortunately, these vicious attacks are working for, not against, us, since people have become even more sympathetic,” Ballsy said, pointing out that she prefers to look at the brighter side of the campaign even if it has become so dirty – that the people have now come to see the tough side of her brother amid a hotly contested presidential election.

Ballsy also said she is happy with the way Noynoy is handling his campaign and how he had always been careful with his dealings with the government even when their mother was still president, since it is all now working to his advantage.

“He never committed any anomalies, even in paying taxes. His instruction is, what we have to pay, we pay,” she said.

Ballsy also pointed out that Noynoy cannot hide what he truly thinks and feels. But, she said, he is also like their mother in his manner of speaking delicately even when he is already criticizing people.

Warm welcome

During a late night rally in Cabanatuan City recently, Noynoy could not help but sing along with the crowd some lines of “Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo” to show how much he appreciated their warm welcome.

He said the sight of supporters flooding their rallies and motorcades always gives him an adrenaline rush and the strength to stand for hours and hours during the campaign.

Ballsy said the warmth of the people has never subsided ever since the death of their mother in August last year.

She said their youngest sibling, television host and actress Kris Aquino-Yap, cannot campaign for Noynoy every day because she is taping her shows at ABS-CBN. The problem now also is that people want Noynoy himself and not his sisters or celebrities who can pinch-hit for him during the sorties, she said.

Ballsy further said Kris’ son, Baby James, is still joining the campaign despite his recent his slip-up in Bacolod. The two-year-old boy said “Villar” instead of Noynoy during the rally.

“That’s really funny. That is why we don’t let him hear whatever we talk about because he repeats everything. He blurts out and mixes up the names of all candidates – that’s how kids are. Kris was upset but we all took it lightly,” Ballsy says.

If he wins, Ballsy said they will also take turns assisting Noynoy since he does not have a wife to act as first lady.

“That will be easy. Our mother also did not have a first gentleman but we managed,” Ballsy said. Their father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was assassinated in August of 1983 after years of fighting the Marcos dictatorship.

‘Extremely balanced’

Noynoy, meantime, described as “extremely balanced” the article of Time magazine, which had him on the cover of its latest issue.

He is now among the few Filipinos who have made it to the magazine’s cover. His mother was on the cover as Time’s Person of the Year in 1986.

“Of course we’re still far from that,” he said when asked how he felt about the cover feature. Mrs. Aquino was again featured on the cover when she died last August.

“He (author) really wanted to write a balanced article, and it was an extremely balanced article,” he told reporters in Calamba, Laguna yesterday.

Aquino said the story “represents a challenge” to do more and transform the country.

Noynoy was featured in the April 25 issue of Time magazine, which will be carried in a limited Asian edition.

The article on him tackles his journey to the presidency months after his mother, who died of colon cancer, his family life, his bachelorhood and his struggle to win the May 10 presidential elections. – With Delon Porcalla

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.