Election Memories of a Happy Loser!
The starting pistol for the midterm senatorial race has been fired and off the hopefuls go. This time around, there are 62 such hopefuls. There will be 50 losers because they are vying for only 12 seats in the upper chamber of the legislature.
In terms of personal attainments and credentials such as academic, professional stature, experience, character, family life, advocacies, and other quantifiables, it appears to me that, overall, it is the Otso Diretso opposition team (anti-Duterte), wholly as a ticket as well as on an individual basis, that genuinely stands out. Each one deserving to be voted a senator.
While that is for me to say, such may not be the verdict of the vicissitudes and exigencies of Philippine elections. How reality will dawn depends upon the gullibility and/or the maturity of our electorate.
The event brings back cherished personal memories of one particular election. Specifically, it was the politics of 1992. That was the election that delivered to the nation the Fidel V. Ramos (FVR) Presidency. I can honestly lay claim to undeniably having personally helped elect him President.
Twenty-seven years ago, there were 24 senatorial seats to be filled. The top twelve winners to serve a term of 6 years while the bottom twelve, for 3 years. Thus began the cycle of electing 12 senators every three years. Thereafter, only twelve senators were elected to serve for a six-year term, with a limit of one uninterrupted re-election following. In 1992, there were seven contending political parties and a smattering of no-party candidates. There were 156 candidates for the Senate. Very few will remember that I was one of them. A candidate for senator, too!
Twenty-four of us candidates were part of the Lakas-NUCD [National Union of Christian Democrats] party, the party endorsed by President Cory Aquino. Only the two re-electionists, Letty Ramos-Shahani and Nina Rasul, survived. Letty served for six years, Nina for three.
The 22 of us ‘also-rans’ referred to ourselves as “Batch EDSA ’92,” otherwise, happily as “Pangkat Talunan” (Team Losers!). For about a year, we would periodically congregate and relive, recall our lively happy campaign escapades and experiences, always in jocose reunions. There was never a moment of sulkiness, much less remorse and whining. I guess that was because each one was sincerely convinced that from each of our own personally-sourced votes (family, clan, home town and home province, school, etc. beyond the personal reach of candidate Ramos), we contributed in no small measure to the numerical total that nosed Fidel V. Ramos to the Presidency. That was the common well of our mirth and joy, having produced a winner, the golden crown of the 1992 Presidential elections.
The happy twenty-two were: Sanchez Ali, Adolf Azcuna, Silvestre Bello, Israel Bocobo, Alran Bengzon, Guillermo Carague, Frank Chavez, Jimmy Cura, Marietta Goco, “RJ” Jacinto, Joe Lopez, Conrado Manicad, Manoling Morato, Aureling Periquet, Ed Pilapil, Leo Quisumbing, Joe Romero, Francisco Sumulong, Ruben Torres, Joe Villegas, Arsenio Yulo, and myself!
Apart from the opportunity to travel the islands and visit venues we would never have had any reason to call on, there were many memorable moments each of us would certainly cherish. Electoral campaigns can indeed be arduous but fun. Fun to laugh at oneself, even.
Here is mine.
There was that Pampanga campaign sortie which then Governor Bren Guiao orchestrated as official host. A motorcade was to precede the night time rally. The intent of the afternoon motorcade was to “expose” the senatorial candidates to around six or seven towns surrounding San Fernando, the provincial capital, which were designated as the motorcade’s route.
San Fernando town plaza was the starting point and terminus, capped by the campaign rally that was to follow after nightfall. And so, the circus-like motorcade with open pick-up trucks and SUV/wagons, merrily went off. Our assigned vehicles were festooned with tarps displaying our photos and other campaign visual collaterals, not excluding our beaming faces against the wind and arms waving. The scenario is really de rigueur electoral public ‘exposure’ for hopefuls who wish to be remembered come election day.
No sooner had we driven through the outskirts of the town, a torrential downpour was upon us. Macho me and not simply allowing rain to deprive me of an opportunity to show my face to the crowds before whom we were parading, I did not take shelter. I remained standing on the rear of the pick-up truck and even giddily shouted “Gomez! Gomez!” Of course, I was drenched. Not only rain on my face, I was wet as wet can be, down to my briefs and my socks! But I do remember that I was truly enjoying the political exercise.
On the contrary, I must mention that four of our candidates who were bald and in such condition, vanity necessitated toupees! Being be-wigged had become inseparable from their individual personalities. The toupee had in fact become their permanent fixture and identification. Unfortunately, being toupeed was decidedly a disincentive to enjoying being rained upon! The baldpates stayed inside the cabs and were content with waving their hands, face unseen. “Exposure” forgone! But not for me!
The motorcade ambled from town to town, through the main drags where people were likewise animatedly waving back acknowledging our passing presence, from covered sidewalks or from windows. Along the way, the rain would stop every now and then, only to commence pouring all over again. What a tease !
“Gomez! Gomez po ako!” shouting at the top of my lungs, with a wave of both arms displaying my widest toothpaste smile! I had reversed my jacket so that the “Gomez” plastered at the back was now in my front, again for better ‘exposure.’ Never did I abandon my open pick-up truck perch. “Pagkakataong makita at makilala!”
(The opportunity to be seen and be recognized!) “Gomez! Gomez po ako!” I had hoped that the hundreds of similarly surnamed Gomezes in Pampanga would come to adopt me as a long lost ‘one of them!’
As we were about to pull up to a stop, already by the town center, vicinity for the campaign rally, I could see a bevy of young ones. Giggling girls moving towards us. I jauntily sauntered off the pick-up truck. With grinning enthusiasm, I was approaching them and hoping to give them a group hug. But, what I had come to wishfully believe as my well-earned reward was instantaneously jarred. They were indeed coming towards my direction but to my chagrin, they were yelling “Morato!”, “Morato!”
After all that motorcade razzmatazz, I was mistaken for a fellow candidate! Honestly, I did not lose equanimity, my ego was unbruised. I had a good laugh!
It is indeed true that up to the last days of my public life, I would still get approached with a request for a Philippine Charity Sweepstakes ambulance! Manoling Morato as chairman of the Sweepstakes body was known to dispense such public goodies!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tomas 'Buddy' Gomez III began his professional media career in ABS-CBN's (previously Chronicle Broadcasting Network) DZQL-Radio Reloj in 1957, after which he spent 25 years with the Ayala Group.
In 1986, the then Pres. Cory Aquino appointed him Consul General to Hawaii and later served as her Press Secretary.
During the Ramos administration, he was chairman and president of state-owned IBC-13 Network.
After government service, he became an ‘OFW’ in the U.S., working as front-desk clerk and then assistant general manager of a hotel. He also worked as a furniture and antique restoration specialist.
He is now retired and lives in San Antonio, Texas.
His e-mail is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.