Saturday, April 16, 2011

Pasta and the presidency


Tonight I was persuaded to cook a pasta dinner at home for a group of La Salle friends I've known for a long time but haven't seen in ages. I've been traveling so much for the past two months that there hasn't been enough time to get together at leisure until tonight. After dinner, which was quite a success, we all sat around talking in my living room until midnight.

"So, you went to Sri Lanka with a bunch of Ateneans and one La Sallite?" One of them asked me. "Poor guy." He was referring, of course, to the La Sallite.

"It was okay," I replied, with a smile. "He survived."

"Did the Ateneans actually get his humor? Or was it too deep for them?" Someone else asked. Having known these people for ages -- and having been the lone Atenean among La Sallites a good many times over the years -- I was quite used to this school rivalry banter.

"And this guy J," someone else added. "He must be a La Sallite. Only a La Sallite can be so witty and charming even by text. It's a talent that Ateneans don't have. They're too self-conscious to send witty texts." I giggled but was not about to see my alma mater trampled on. "Only La Sallites have too much time on their hands to think about texts. Ateneans are too busy with real jobs," I quipped.

But someone was quicker on their feet than I was tonight -- and perhaps it's still because of the wine from yesterday. "Ahh. Of course they have to work hard at real jobs. They're employed by companies owned by La Sallites," he quickly retorted. Everyone burst out laughing and for once I had to concede defeat.

"So I gather J's a La Sallite?" Someone persisted. But I wasn't about to budge. "Does it matter?" I said. "Let's talk about politics instead."

Fortunately, politics is a subject close to the heart of this group, and some of them have been very involved. We discussed all sorts of scenarios and theories until someone stopped the conversation dead with the following big statement: "I'd like to run for the presidency someday. And if I won, I'd run the Philippines like a Mahathir because that's what we need right now."

We all clapped furiously even if we weren't sure whether he was serious or not; but I especially thought he would indeed make a good president later on. "If he becomes president, how do we divide the spoils?" Someone asked. It was all in good fun but it was certainly interesting to think about it.

"Well, if I'm president, you'll certainly get the tourism post," he told me. I then asked him: "Can I get foreign affairs instead? I would love a job like that."

"It's not going to be all glamour, you know," he admonished. "You'd have to deal with issues like the Spratlys Islands, and work closely with National Defense."

I had a feeling my friend was getting pretty serious about this. And so was everyone else. Everyone seemed to have a cabinet position they wanted, and they all revealed aloud which post they wanted and what they would do if selected. We could probably have gone on for a couple more hours if the clock hadn't struck midnight and some people still had early morning runs to do.

As they left my home, my presidential friend reminded me: "So I'll give you foreign affairs if you really want it."

This was just a little bit too premature, I felt. "Don't forget," I replied. "You'll have to get elected first."


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