Friday, July 22, 2011

President FPJ

"Da King for President"

It was the banner in my dad's tabloid the day Fernando Poe Jr. ran for public office. It had the blessings of my father, as well as my teacher, Lito Zulueta. It was a gamble. Gloria was at the height of power, and being a tabloid known for its images of young ladies in varying state of nakedness, the display of political allegiance might get us the wrong attention.

Seldom do I take charge of the editorial department. Usually, I leave it to my dad to decide on the paper's direction.  But since my dad was a Poe supporter and I was beginning to turn against the current president, the timing of my intervention was most welcome. I've even came up with the perfect headline to mark the occasion.

Permission was granted without much discussion and the paper showed its shade of color. For standing with the opposition candidate, it sold like hotcakes the next day and the sales we posted was among the highest that summer.

The tabloid covered the campaign trail of FPJ during the entire election season. We were the only major paper foolish enough to pin our hopes with the veteran actor. Poe, in return acknowledged our support. The access we got was more exclusive and personal than the big media covering his campaign.

Cash strapped, even his posters ran out sometimes. This is why we didn't get any money or advertisement even from his candidates. What we had was his goodwill, as well as the best-kept stories about the man everyone thought was tight-lipped and withdrawn from the spotlight. I was even told our photographers and reporters always get to shake the hands of  Da King when his sorties arrive at their beat.

They were even treated as part of his extended family.

In a world where talk is cheap and money is everything, we stood by FPJ's side and tried to earn what little we get from his supporters. What took us by surprise was the brisk sales of the paper. Whenever we ran a news article about Da King. No matter how trivial it was, the  masa simply bought it.

The rest will be left for history to judge.

As we all know, FPJ was defeated by over a million votes. And for the first time, the nation heard the legend spoke - in Davao - to raise his bitter objections after he was cheated in the elections. His plea fell on deaf ears as his rival was proclaimed the winner.  Soon, he disappeared from the spotlight and in one year, Da King will pass away after his nerve was ruptured while packing unmarked relief goods bound for Quezon.

In death, the lingering questions about his defeat would remain unanswered. Many will even forget as they went on with their lives.

Until today.

Back then, I saw things in a business perspective. While not really an FPJ supporter, (I was too lazy to register, I ended up being a non-voter)  I was part of his machinery. People close to me looked down at him as someone better off as an actor. They say an uneducated, inexperienced person has no business in politics.

To which I somehow agreed.  For this reason, they never knew who I really worked for.

But what the people really don't know is that FPJ was a man of principle. My dad once said he declined cash donations especially when he knows it was tainted with favors.  He was too proud to play politics even when the need arises. He even declined interviews and even kept a mum about his accomplishments for reasons only he knew.

And for that he paid the ultimate price.

At a hindsight, I still wonder what would have been if Da King became the President. What would the things he say during his SONAs. How will the economy fare in the hands of a president who never had experience running a bureaucracy? Would the country see less perversities like the one we had seen in the last six years? Would he free his buddy, the man accused of plunder, as everyone predicted he plans to do? What would the gamble make of our business?

Would the windfall allow my dad to recover and not die a pauper?

While these thoughts defy imagination, speculations abound as to what really took place. Were the votes padded in Mindanao in favor of one candidate?  Did massive cheating stole what is rightfully for Da King?  We would never know the answers unless the government of PNoy commits itself to finding the truth.  But as for someone who still believes there is justice in this world - whether divine or earthly - everyone will have to account for their past actions.

There is no escape

And though Da King never saw the day he sits as the head of Malacanang, for someone whose kindness and humility has touched so many lives, his bid to power must never be forgotten. My hope is for the government to recognize Fernando Poe as the man, who went out of his stage character to become more lifelike, and stood up for all of us to see the light.

A friend of mine, a musician personally testified to the simplicity of the man.  In the 1970s, he recounted, FPJ bought a recording studio from Jose Mari Gonzalez to bail him out of dire straits, but didn't quite know what to do with it.  So he got musicians to run the place, my friend among them.  On occasion, he said, FPJ would drop by at night, beer in hand, and say, "Erap (he called everybody erap), pwede ba kong umistambay dito?"  Of course he didn't mind, my friend recalled laughing, it was his place. FPJ, my friend said, would look over his shoulders -- my friend would be making arrangements and preparing accompaniments to songs in a musical variety show -- which made him a little nervous.  After a couple of hours, FPJ would shake his head and say, "That is all very complicated to me, you guys are geniuses." Then he would take his leave, "Mauna na ko, erap," and sneak out quietly.

Conrado De Quiros
Touch of Class
There's the Rub


lonewolf said...

I think if FPJ will be president then the elites will never accept him and they will even make fun of him. I think politics is not for FPJ because he has no political experience unlike Erap, and people might manipulate him because he doesn;t know anything on running our country.

Anonymous said...

dear mugen
who wrote this post about FPJ - u or DeQuiros? kung ikaw ang sumulat - fine with me. Kung si DeQuiros - y jusme! natanso ka na naman ng maglulubid ng buhanging na unggoy na yan! di ka pa nadala jan sa CDQ na yan. . . kung san ang asukal e andun din sya! aminin ko talagang mahusay sumulat ang putang yan. .but hanggang dun lang kasi once u know where he came from and where he is aiming to be- alam mo na talagang CDQ is only after to make himself look/sound good in the eyes of his intended quarry. . .kahit sya na ang mag pulitzer prize winner for all time - sa mga nakaalam sya ay isang bayaran lamang!

Mugen said...


I wrote the piece, except for the paragraph I lifted from Conrado De Quiros. It was from personal experience so I could vouch for it.

As for CDQ being a paid writer, who would I believe, a critic hiding behind an anonymous comment, or a writer who has shaped my world view for the last decade?

Besides, proof please.


That is what people believes.

Anonymous said...

bakit ganon narin?