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Manila Standard : My could have beens

News & Interviews
5 November 2021

By Emil Jurado | Manila Standard

"What if I had pursued these paths?"

At 94, I often look back on events of my life. I sometimes wonder what could have happened to me if I took this or that path instead.

There was the time a group of politicians came to my house at Philamlife Homes in Quezon City to ask me if I could relocate to Bangued, Abra to try my luck as a politician. Politics in Abra needed a new face and because they knew me at that time as a television personality (I was on radio and television, aside from my daily column at the defunct Philippines Herald), they said I was a novel personality.

I told them they must be joking since I am not a politician, and never will be. But, they told me since I was born in Dolores, Abra and had as my godmother Constancia Valera, the matriarch of the ruling political family, I could well be a new face in Abra politics.

I wanted to laugh, but I did not out of courtesy.

I had lunch with them, and during the lunch, I told them that I knew that politics in Abra was very dangerous with politicians killing each other. They told me that they would not be a problem since my family and I would be assured of security. They also told me that money would not be a problem.

The only condition was that my family and I had to relocate to Abra. This was when my wife said that we could not do it because my children then at that time were still studying in Manila -- my daughter at Maryknoll, now Miriam College, and my three sons at Ateneo de Manila.

I also told them that I was no longer fluent in Ilocano since I had stayed too long in Metro Manila. And more importantly, my wife was a Visayan from Zamboanga City, Cotabato City, and Cagayan de Oro.

I said I was sorry I could not do it. My wife thanked them for the visit, anyway.

**

The second instance which could have changed my life was when Marcos Press Secretary Jose Aspiras, accompanied by the well-known columnist Ka Doroy Valencia, asked me to be the new Press Secretary.

They went to my house to say that the late strongman President Ferdinand E. Marcos wanted an Ilocano to take the place of Aspiras who was running for Congress in La Union. This visit was before Martial Law.

When I asked them why me, they said that they heard that the First Lady Imelda Romualdez was planning to get a non-Ilocano as press secretary.

When I told Jose and Ka Doroy that I could not live with the salary of a press secretary (at that time, a cabinet member had a salary of P18,000 a month, plus allowances), they said I should not worry. They could arrange that I would get more. I said I would think about it.

They returned after a week. I told them that my wife and I talked about the offer and decided I should turn it down.

I told them that it was my wife who was firm in turning down the offer.

Ka Doroy looked at my wife and said: “You are a foolish woman. Do you know what your husband could be? A famous personality with more money than he is now getting.” My wife just laughed.

In fact, that was not the only time I was offered to be a press secretary. When President Fidel V. Ramos was elected President, he offered me to be his press secretary. I turned it down and recommended Rod Reyes, who was then with ABS-CBN.

I got the same offer when Erap Estrada became President. I helped him during his campaign. Again, I declined and pointed to Rod Reyes, who was then seated beside me. When Rod told Erap he had a heart problem, I told him I would help him.

I could not imagine myself as press secretary lying for a president, and apologizing for him. I am not made to be a government functionary, compromising my convictions.

As a journalist for over seven decades now, I never longed to be a millionaire, a politician, much less a government functionary. I could never lie.

I wonder what life could have been if I pursued these options. I did not even practice law! I am too much of a journalist and I think that I will die as one.

**

Santa Banana, over Facebook and other online events, I have seen gatherings with people without masks, without any social distancing. I wonder if they even wash their hands.

This has been a common practice ever since the government announced that the National Capital Region is now a low-risk area.

I have also seen photos of friends and relatives without masks, face shields and social distancing. Do they think the vaccine is a guarantee that they can no longer catch the virus?

We should still be cautious.

In this regard, I don’t know why Vice President Robredo would now come out with her own roadmap as response to the COVID-19 crisis. My gulay, to what end, and for what purpose? Just to show President Duterte that she knows best in responding to the COVID-19 crisis?

It’s funny and useless at the same time.

**

The opposition and Marcos haters have been coming with all sorts of condemnations of Bongbong, raising dead issues like Martial Law, Oxford University, and his alleged non-payment of taxes for which the court found him guilty.

Bongbong and his lawyers have answered all these. They cannot deny that BBM is the candidate to beat, at the rate they are trying to pull him down.