Manila — Perhaps for the last time, we at TRAVELIFE Magazine digress from writing about travel and the good life to say our piece on politics before an extremely polarized nation goes to vote on Monday.
For most of our adult life, we’ve been unabashedly yellow. In fact, we were yellow long before it became fashionable – and certainly at a time when it was very dangerous to be so. And throughout the years, we’ve worked for the yellow camp and the good and honest Corazon Aquino, and had many opportunities to interact up close and personal with her.
We risked arrest and organized Cory’s Crusaders at the Ateneo, distributing leaflets and marching in the streets when many of our classmates were safely at home. Later on, we worked for Corazon Aquino in various capacities. In one of these capacities, we were privileged to accompany her several times on her visits to Japan. I still remember one particular trip, when we made up a party of four — President Aquino, her daughter, another person and myself — and visited the city of Kobe. In the evenings, we sat around the living room of President Aquino’s suite; and I never forgot the radiance and aura that surrounded her, even then amongst people she knew in the privacy of her living room. As a person, she was truly a special lady.
From Yellow to Green
But this time we’re unabashedly green because this good lady who was the reason we were yellow has passed away, and she is not the one running for election. And I believe that anyone else running under the Aquino name should be taken entirely on their own merits — especially right now, when the country is in such dire need of good and strong leadership.
In choosing our candidate, we took a long and hard look at each of the serious contenders. The job of running a poor, fractious and corrupt country like the Philippines is a tough one that requires vision, talent, management skills, integrity, vigor, stamina and an honest-to-goodness good heart. Most of the candidates had some or the other, but only one really had most of these qualities — at least in our opinion.
Out of all the major candidates running for election, Gilbert Teodoro is the one candidate we had no connections to and the one we knew least about — yet he impressed us the most, and this is why we’re casting our vote with him. Through the campaign season, we had opportunities to meet him and each time we found a good, smart, honest, principled and sincere man who we thought could and should be president. When he spoke, he had a realistic vision and a no-nonsense approach when proposing solutions. I also liked that he had worked hard all his life in spite of being the son of a privileged family.
“GIBO stood out for his brilliance..”
Early last year, way before the elections heated up, I was at a farewell dinner at the Mandarin Oriental for the head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation of Germany. Gilbert Teodoro was the guest speaker because he knew the foundation head well. At my table was Gilbert’s law professor. This was not yet election fever and her attendance at this dinner was completely unrelated to Gibo’s presence at the event.
She said to me: “You know, even in law school, Gilbert stood out for his brilliance. But what really impressed me was that he really worked hard and diligently. He belonged to a batch that included several sons and daughters of famous families. Most of them simply went through the paces of school, confident that whether they studied hard or not, a good future in law or politics awaited them. But Gilbert Teodoro was different. He was brilliant, but he was also among the hardest working and diligent students of that batch — and of the thousands of students who’ve passed through my classes over the years.”
Everywhere, people are for GIBO
Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion regarding presidential candidates — although I’m happy to note that almost everywhere I go, so many people are for Gilbert Teodoro. On Thursday, at an Italian restaurant in Makati, four out of five of us were green. And the restaurant servers were green as well. But even in other sectors of society, I found Gilbert Teodoro supporters everywhere. My facialist confirmed that everyone in their salon was for GT, and just yesterday at a spa, my therapist whispered the same. They liked how he spoke and what he said, these service personnel told me; he sounded smart, sensible and different.
Although we are for Gilbert Teodoro, we certainly respect other people’s choice of candidates. However, it baffles us constantly, when we meet friends and acquaintances and they say they’re supporting a candidate because “my brother knows him,” or “my uncle worked for his mom,” or “we went to the same school,” etc. The funniest one I’ve found so far is: “Because my husband knows his cousin-in-law.” It’s as if we’re voting for a school alumni association president rather than the president of a country.
This is about the fate of 90+ million Filipinos
Voting for a president isn’t about choosing the candidate we know or went to school with, or the one most likely to give someone in the family a job. This is about the fate of 90+ million Filipinos and not just a few hundred families, so the candidate the nation elects had better be up to the job. Winning the elections — especially with massive propaganda machines and the support of major media establishments — is the easiest part of the process. The hard part is running the country afterwards. I cannot stress enough how damaging six more long years under a mediocre president will be. It may be good for a few hundred families and a couple of media, but it will be devastating for the rest of the country. And each time I think of this possibility, I really feel sorry for this country and its people, who could really and finally use a break from the cycle of poverty, mismanagement and corruption.
As for us voters, it’s easy to wear the baller of your candidate, or to post his sticker on your car or his photo on Facebook. But when you’re actually in that polling booth and ready to choose, please remember that your choice will have serious repercussions for your country.
1) Does your candidate personally have an ambitious and yet realistic vision for the country? (The vision created by his PR machine and by some smart ad agencies doesn’t count.)
2) Can your candidate manage people?
3) Can your candidate wisely manage resources?
4) Do you believe your candidate will work hard for the good of the country? Has he done so credibly in the past?
5) Does he have proven leadership skills?
6) Can he intelligently represent the country and its interests in the international arena?
7) Can he truly run the country?
From all of us at Travelife Magazine, the Philippines’ leading travel & lifestyle publication, good luck with your choice and — for the sake of our poor beloved country and its many suffering people, most of whom live in poverty and have no access to the Internet — may the best, most qualified man win.