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December 18, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Ronald Roy — Dec. 18, 2014

Last December 5, I attended an early Christmas and birthday luncheon tendered by former Prime Minister Cesar E.A. Virata at the Manila Polo Club. I was not at all surprised that there would be scattered technical discussions about matters of common interest to eggheads who had served under different administrations.
But there they were, around 18 grey-haired and balding certified banking, accounting and financial technocrats — six or seven ladies were in attendance — conversing with the host’s handful of bosom friends in a “time zone” of past performance glories, present-day eco-socio-political conundrums and daunting future uncertainties.
As three tables separated us, it wasn’t easy for me to hear the conversations away from where I sat, but the constancy of comical anecdotes in Chucker’s cozy function room indicated that the once-a-year camaraderie was of greater interest than the question of whether the Senate Blue Ribbon inquiries were truly in aid of legislation. It isn’t often that I get to be with septua/octogenarian personalities of the cerebral variety, so this was one such occasion I wouldn’t have missed for the world.
My small table for seven included Manny Alba, Ramon Farolan, Vic Macalincag, Vin Valdepeñas, Gerry Sicat and, immediately at my right, Cesar Zalamea, who looked so venerable on a wheelchair. The host would be hopping from table to table. [Layout and space requirements compel me to make this piece short. Therefore, dear Reader, lest I be regarded as an egotist, allow me to confine my narration to some of those chats I personally engaged in.]
As we settled down after the perfunctory niceties, Manny, whose current preoccupation is writing biographies, wanted to know how enjoyable I’ve found my without-fear-or-favor columns, and I replied, “Activist writing is a very enjoyable hobby. Like a hussy, it seduced me over 10 years ago with its wonders of creative power; and each dalliance has been ecstatic even for such depressing topics as greed, riding-in-tandem murders, serial rapes, dope sessions and same-sex relationships.
“Adding to my profound delight is bad-mouthing inept and avaricious politicians to whom we pay hard-earned money, in vain, to make our democracy work. It’s bad enough their services continue to slacken; worse, they would dare routinely plunder from our coffers. I guess that sums up my pastime as an odd mix of pleasure and rage.
“Yes, I compose music and paint with greater facility, Manny, but I choose writing over them because it is the most accurate tool for prosaic self-expression. In one’s twilight years, a person’s spiritual yearning, I believe, is to make a clear statement about himself, a message that he did not die in vain, that he made a difference, that he was a respectable person. It’s the same thing with P-Noy and most autobiographers, for whom leaving behind a legacy can be an obsession. Quite frankly, however, I’m not sure whether in my case writing is an ego trip. Either way, it’s a delightful and constructive avocation to stay relevant in one’s fading years.”
Vic posed an unexpected query that got no answer from anyone. But I’d like to answer him now. “Duterte for president? I know no more about him than his allegedly successful gun-toting campaign to bust crime in Davao City, the only difference between him and the mythical Dirty Harry being that: if you misbehave after a warning or two, Duterte will shoot you on sight. But if somehow I can reconcile his police methods with the requirements of due process in particular and the rule of law in general, perhaps he can be president.
“His being a city mayor — which is an executive, not legislative, position — qualifies him more logically for president than some ambitious senators I know. Gov. Joey Salceda, for another, should contend for the high post. It’s unfortunate that the senate is the usual source of presidential aspirants, but I suppose this cannot be helped. It’s the senators’ good fortune that the newsy nature of their work of national import creates tri-media coverage. This kind of 24/7 exposure gives them an awfully large advantage over local aspirants.”
“That’s a good question (Ramon and Cesar Z). Generally, a president doesn’t fare as well as his/her predecessor because, each passing year, human miseries worsen under the escalating forces of the three C’s, namely: climate change, corruption, and reckless coitus leading to overpopulation (Laughter). So, who wants to be president?”
As I bade farewell, I gave warmest hand shakes to my good friend Cesar V, and three others who weren’t at my table: Jimmy Laya, Placido Mapa, and Ernest Leung. As I hobbled toward my car on a cane, I couldn’t help but sadly muse that not even the best thought-out “solution” by all the eggheads in the world can succeed against any of the 3 big Cs. Bless them all, but that is the exclusive call of the Creator.


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