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Mouthwash and Kisses

December 18, 2012 Leave a comment Go to comments

Mouthwash and Kisses
Ronald Roy — 2012 December 18

I owe my being Filipino to the politics of my father, Jose J. Roy, (1904-1986), who was Tarlac’s 1st District congressman from 1946 to 1960, and senator from 1961 onward, until martial law was declared in 1972. His most outstanding record—perennially chosen by media as one of top 10 congressmen and top four senators in 26 consecutive years of legislative service—should do all Filipinos proud. The man who never lost in an election will long be remembered for his humility, generosity and integrity, not to mention his hard work and brilliance.

My father in turn owed his politics to his bosom friend, Manuel A. Roxas. Roxas had long considered dad, a Manila-based lawyer-businessman, as his VP running mate when he launched his candidacy for president under the Liberal Party that he had just organized, but decided at the last moment that Elpidio Quirino’s wizardry in finance seemed to be a more logical component for the tandem.

On Roxas’ goading, dad agreed to reside in his father’s hometown, Moncada, Tarlac, in compliance with the six-month residency requirement preparatory to the filing of his candidacy for congressman. The idea of an electoral face-off with the formidable resources of re-electionist Jose Cojuangco, Sr. was a bit daunting at first, but he was eventually convinced by Roxas’ entreaty that dad’s grasp of banking, agrarianism and “poor man’s” economics   was the needed challenge to festering feudalist practices not only in the province, but also in the entire country.

It was a crushing landslide win that dad pulled off over the well-oiled campaign machine of P-Noy’s maternal grandfather. Remembered most for his authorship of the General Banking Act (the law that created the Central Bank in 1948) and R.A. 1159 (1954), an act governing relations between landowners and tenants of agricultural lands (leaseholds and share tenancy), the first post 2nd World War agrarian reform law, Jose J. Roy is probably recorded as among the most productive in terms of number and importance of statutes authored and sponsored in the history of Philippine legislation.

I was born in 1935 in Manila, and studied, worked, and raised a family in Manila. But a nostalgic part of me is “probinsiyano”, as I sometimes find myself in the reverie of swims in a river, fresh goat’s milk for breakfast, carabao rides and dung, and most of all: the warm smiles of simple folk.

In 1946, newly elected Cong. Jose J. Roy had told his three children, “You will never be truly Filipino, unless you spend periodic vacations in Moncada, a typical town where peasants and farmers walk dusty roads barefooted, eat with their hands and toil from sunrise to sunset in their withering fields. They are the backbone of our agricultural economy. They are the reason we are Filipino.”

Dad so cared for the restive poor that, sometime before 1950, he gave to them his only prized landed estate: 971 hectares of rice land in Nueva Ecija. It was a grant not easy to extend, but it was one perhaps as noble as an offer of life in order to quell a brewing rebellion in Central Luzon. It endeared him to Huk Supremo Luis Taruc who, after becoming a congressman himself, once told him, “Ikaw, Ka Pepe, ay isang tunay na Pilipino.”

Decades later, Ka Luis would regularly visit me at my Land Bank office. Over cups of coffee, he would reminisce the Filipino farmers’ age-long struggle for emancipation from their bondage to the soil. I was now their representative on the LBP Board of Directors, feeling so very Filipino about that fact, although I continued to indulge in things un-Filipino like golf, Chesterfields, tenderloins, Jack Daniels and Hollywood blockbusters.

Filipinos are Filipino, whatever their distinctions are in complexion, idiosyncrasy, dialect, social standing and religion. One is Filipino who is proud to be Filipino, and respects others even if un-Filipino. But one is un-Filipino who wishes to secede from the Republic, and one becomes even more “alienatable” who belongs to a head-chopping religion that worships a wrathful non-Christian deity—even if one once idolized action star Ronnie Poe for gunning down six bad men with hits between the eyes all in one second!

Now Manong Johnny (Ponce Enrile) faces a clear likelihood of being an “alienateable” Senate President. The grizzled parliamentary veteran who dyes his hair dark held his ground throughout those Sin-tax bill and RH bill debates but, well, as the saying goes: “You can’t win ’em all” eh, Manong Johnny? Oh, did I hear you say, “No, I must win ’em all”? Hmmm… I would have imagined you had mellowed down the years, like premium whiskeys in oak barrels.

But wait, I know why you haven’t. You’ve turned back the hands of time with stem cell therapy, right?! You used to be a hot-tempered sport! You always had to win every argument!

Frankly, being back to your old cranky self  is probably not much skin off you’re your supporters’ noses. Ngem, Manong ko, dinggem (But, my older brother, listen): Returning those Christmas presents to RH bill co-authors Sen. Pia Cayetano and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago was most ungracious, insulting, ungentlemanly, rude and un-Christian. Perhaps… un-Filipino?

In any event, without necessarily agreeing to your opposition to the cited bills of the administration, I do admire the firmness with which you articulated your convictions, and your oppositionist stance, by itself. will probably not suffice to unseat you as the upper chamber’s high priest.

There is much time to reflect, Manong, on corrective measures. Giving the two ladies kisses is one—whether of the chocolate or oral variety. You’ll find a way of apologizing to them, I’m sure, and when you do, a forgiving nation may yet get you back in political harness!

Remember also that incalculable political fortunes are at stake here. Let it never be said that it was Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s indulgence in narcissistic stem cell therapy that washed away the dreams of UNA—a coalition of VP Binay’s PDP-Laban and former President Erap’s Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino!

Hmmm… Manong, if I know you, you’ll go for tender loving smackeroos. But please don’t forget that they are best appreciated after a mouthwash. Sonny Trillanes is in on a coup plot? Shower him with pecks galore… heheh!

Maligayang Pasko sa ating lahat!

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