Friday, September 18, 2009

Dust begins to settle

On the 16th day of the 9th month of the Gregorian calendar, which is the 28th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar, also known as the “Kwi Ge” or ghost month, Gilbert Teodoro was “chosen” by the PaLaKa Executive Committee as their standard-bearer for 2010.

(For the benefit of those who do not know the significance that the Chinese place on the Kwi Ge, know this: No Chinese family moves to a house, nor a businessman open a store or an office, or ink a major contract or agreement, during the Kwi Ge, when ghosts roam the land. No announcements of major significance, no career changes are made, or bad luck steps in if ghosts attach themselves to house, office or career. And this year, the 7th month began August 20 and ends today, September 18. That’s when the moon cakes are given around, thanking the gods for passing through a dreadful month.

The lapdogs were all there, many of them secretly consorting in small dinner or drinking parlours with the henchmen of Manny Villar, deal struck, but conditions of timing for their “switch” stretchable, depending on how DBM’s purse strings loosen up on the basis of Gabby Claudio’s attendance record. The Nacionalistas, of course, did their own attendance check, and immediately followed up on their “sleepers” inside PaLaKa.

“Akala ko ba may usapan na tayo?”, asks the gatekeeper of the NP purse.

“Boss, alam mo naman, hihintayin ko lang yung last tranche ng DBM, at saka, may pina-follow-up pa akong project…”, answers the “sleeper” congressman sheepishly.

Poor Gilbert. He poses for a picture with his caboodle of trapos, smoke-stained pearlies showing in wide grins, thinking that these un-worthies will give him their “command” votes come May 2010. Maybe. But that’s going to cost him several millions per district. And there’s no delivery guarantee. In Philippine politics, “word of honor” is, to paraphrase Andrew Jackson “worth a pitcher of warm spit”.

No wonder his braintrust, my friend Atty. Nelson Victorino, who was with me in Malacanang in the old days of old Erap, looked sullen. In his honest mind, he knows these hallelujah chorus croak better than they could ever sing.

* * *

Noli knows. Which is why, unlike the hapless Bayani, he did not even bother to attend the PaLaKa “pakulo”. Street-smart, this Noli.

Now, Villar must be upping the “ante”, as he desperately needs a running-mate. Over the week-end, Senadora Pia pleaded with her brother Alan’s political boss, “talagang hindi pwede”. Pia is happy where she is, as senadora competing with La Loren for gowns with the mostest, and business suits that look smarter, certainly better than Jamby’s, or La Miriam’s. The Pulse Asia polls place her at the top three, never going down, and all she has to do is bike, bike, and bike. Jamby has to “burn her kilay” trying to pin down Alan’s boss on the C-5 crime of the century (well, almost, because other land and road deals have yet to see the light of daytime exposure. Yet Pia outdistances Jamby in the polls, as she does Miriam and her motor-mouthed diatribes against whoever takes her fancy.

So Villar is out, shopping once more. If Noli does not bite the bigger and bigger and more luscious “apple pie” Villar is offering, then maybe Jinggoy will bite.

But Noli, apart from being street-smart, also values his “face”. Hindi naman lahat pera-pera, and as a newscaster with his ears on the ground, the quiet life of one who did not “sell” is a consummation much to be desired after an amazing political life of “swerti”.

It ain’t so pretty, but it ain’t so bad, if you appreciate the metaphor of “face” versus “pera”.. Better to retire in a lovely Dasmarinas garden, and sip cognac (no, not Emperador brandy) in a portico-ed lanai every now and then with bosom pals like Ted Failon, or neighbours like Manong Johnny. Surely Joker would supply a bottle of Hennessy XO and bring it from his manse in the same exclusively rich area.

* * *

My friend Bayan, who no matter how controversial he is to guys like Tunying Taberna and Gerry Baja, my friends as well, I have always admired for his grit and determination, now sulks.

A month or so ago, he confided that he has a good chance of getting the “Lakas” nomination.
Since I don’t kick people when they are down, especially an admired friend like Bayan, all I could mumble on the phone was “So?”

Ever the loyal Lakas member, he thought that among the PaLaKa, loyalty pays. How na├»ve of him. Even in exclusive Catholic schools, students pay for the “loyalty medal” after years and years of paying humongous tuition fees. In PaLaKa, there are only two rules that matter --- the colour of money, or the order of the Dona, which also translates into money, care of the DBM, its SARO and NCO.

Left out in the cold, rejected by party-mates he thought were gentlemen and gentle ladies who view political party as an institution and not a mere flag of convenience, paper flag at that, Bayan should introspect. He and Marides do not deserve predatory company.

* * *

Gibo is impressive though. In an interview with my good friend Ricky Carandang the night of his “victory”, he stated that the stench of Dona Gloria will wash off, and the anti-Gloria sentiments will wear off as election day nears, when people will be more interested in what’s in it for them and their future (or words to that effect). That’s true, theoretically. But politics is not theory, no matter how many times one reads Machiavelli or Savonarola or even the memoirs of Cardinal Richelieu. Politics is the art of war --- Sun Tzu, where no holds are barred, and all weapons are bared.

Is that the reason why Dona Gloria wisely left in the wee hours of the morning, for Istanbul? Maybe the Turks will introduce her to their latest national “treasure”, Sultan Kosen, at 8’1”, the world’s tallest man. And while her PaLaKa were busy stabbing Bayan and nominating her anointed, Gibo back in Manila, she was contemplating the jewels of the Topkapi and the magnificence of Aya Sofya? Was she counting in her mathematically-trained mind if she could afford such digs, and where in this planet she could possibly re-create the sinful luxuries of the Ottoman rulers?

Of course, if she can make her anointed Gibo win, she just might be able to traipse freely in the capitals of Europe and gambol in the cities of Latin America, while her fabuloso esposo soaks in ever-so-familiar Vegas and Vancouver and his favourite city by the bay. As Gibo in Ricky’s show said, “it is time we stop the politics of vengeance”,

Well said, Atty. Gilbert Teodoro. But as you well know, a president must distinguish between justice and vengeance. As an officer of the court, you swore to uphold truth and defend justice, to uphold the laws of the land, and give justice to our long-suffering people.

* * *

The dust begins to settle. The realities of politics are beginning to dawn upon us all. As my Bulakena lola would say, “tumitining na”.

Once more, we will have four major candidates come November 30 --- Gibo and Ronnie the Tree for Lakas, or Kampi (choose which, because Comelec and even the Supreme Court may not be able to give legal imprimatur to PaLaKa); Noynoy and Mar (yes Virginia, he has accepted, in pectore) for the LP; Villar and maybe Jinggoy for the Nacionalistas; and Chiz or Loren for the Nationalist People’s Coalition (they were supposed to announce something in a press conference last September 23, but this was postponed while studying the legal implications of the latest SC split decision on an issue of premature campaigning).

Four for the road. It’s actually refreshing to see three young men (Chiz, Gibo and Noynoy) debating with an older man (Villar) who would not talk. And pretty Loren with newly-betrothed Mar tangling with the likes of older Ronnie the Tree and bariatrically re-engineered Jinggoy.
Unless the Dona, after contemplating the treasures of the Topkapi, has other tricks up her sleeves, learned in situ in the capital of Byzantine intrigue during the medieval ages.