Just as well, the hijacking of the campaign, or the betrayal of the dream, was never about the junking of Mar Roxas by Kamag-anak Inc. The hijacking of the campaign, or the betrayal of the dream, was about the junking of Edsa by Roxas Inc.
I wrote those couple of columns last November criticizing the Liberal Party because it was giving the campaign a trapo (traditional politician) image. That took the form in particular of contemplating bringing in ?winnable? candidates like Jinggoy Estrada and even Bongbong Marcos into its senatorial roster. It went beyond contemplation in the case of Ralph Recto, a staunch Arroyo ally whose conscription so pissed off Serge Osmeńa that he quit the group altogether. The logic of this idiocy was that after Benigno ?Noynoy? Aquino III won he would need allies in the Senate to push his reform agenda.
It was idiotic because, one, it assured Noynoy would not win. It was the clearest sign the party never understood where his numbers came from, imagining those numbers would keep even if his larger-than-life image of being the inheritor of the impossible dream were shattered. And, two, because it presupposed that the best way to push reform was to enlist the aid of allies who were resolutely opposed to it.
All this did not just turn Noynoy into another candidate with feet of clay, it did not just turn the election into another exercise to choose the next flagellant, it turned Noynoy into just another trapo, or threatened to. Later the same group would chorus, after Noynoy?s numbers tumbled (which I kept warning them about), ?Alas, the Cory magic is dead!? Like snipping off a bird?s wings and lamenting, ?Alas, it can?t fly anymore!?
And with that observation, they went from abandoning the Edsa spirit to abandoning Edsa itself.
I kept saying at the start of the campaign that I couldn?t see how Noynoy could possibly lose when he had a natural ally in January and February this year. Those two months are Edsa months, January being the month of Edsa 2 and February being the month of Edsa 1. All he had to do was stick to the Edsa story, the one that said the choice was a starkly moral one, the choice was between tyranny and freedom, between Arroyo and Noynoy (forget the other candidates, they didn?t really matter), just as the choice in the snap elections was between Marcos and Cory and just as the choice in the US elections was between ?Dubya? and Barack, and bring it to a culmination with the two Edsas.
Never happened. Tsk-tsking that Edsa was dead?and Mar probably blaming it for killing his dream of becoming president (which he never would have been even if it hadn?t arisen; Chiz or Manny would have trounced him)?Mar Inc. trotted out all sorts of fuzzy messages except the one that had made the campaign possible. January came and went and not one squeak, not one peep, not one utterance escaped the lips of the Aquino camp about the People Power that had ousted Erap and its beneficiary who betrayed it. February came and went, and only a pale display of People Power arose to celebrate the 25th itself, one held in a site utterly without symbolic value, the Araneta Center, giving the celebrations the air of being just another concert in competition with the one Willie Revillame put up for Villar in the Mall of Asia, which was better attended.
I told friends then that if Noynoy lost his campaign, it would be because he traded his birthright for a pot of porridge.
In the end, his campaign revived partly out of luck (Johnny and Jamby jammed Manny?s surge) and partly out of Noynoy rediscovering his Edsa origins. Mar himself would resort to Edsa, the one thing he scorned, when Jojo Binay pulled neck and neck with him, and trade his blue shirt for yellow. Alas, too late, blue would remain his color, his band playing ?Blues for Mar.?
Which brings us finally to who abandoned whom.
Mar would say at the end that the reason he stumbled was that he devoted time and energy coming to Noynoy?s aid when he was down. That is all very well, except for a couple of things.
One, why should his campaign suffer by devoting his energies to Noynoy if they had a single identity, if they shared a common bond, if they were partners in a cause grander than merely winning an election? In fact, they did not. In fact, they were not. Mar made it a point to be a separate entity; he made it a point not to owe Edsa (which he already did by getting a rocket boost to his career by the ?sacrifice? of sliding down for the greater glory of Edsa); he distanced himself from Noynoy when the sun was shining on his side of the hill. He insisted on being blue to Noynoy?s yellow, and it didn?t turn out to be velvet.
Two, proof of which you see with what he did?or did not do?when Villar closed in on Noynoy and when he was far ahead of his rivals, enough to taunt Loren and Binay with ?Good luck fighting it out for No. 2.? (Those words have come to haunt.) Later, when he had gotten desperate, he would get Noynoy to say earnestly, ?Mar Roxas is my only vice president.? But when he was enjoying his lead, when all sorts of Island-of-Dr.-Moreau creatures like ?Villar-Mar? and ?Gibo-Mar? were sprouting all over the place, did we ever see him shouting at the top of his voice: ?Noynoy Aquino is my only president??
The Noynoy campaign began not with the Liberal Party, the Hyatt 10 and the Firm but with the volunteer groups. It succeeded not because of the Liberal Party, the Hyatt 10 and the Firm but because of the volunteer groups. Noynoy?s government should begin not with the Liberal Party, the Hyatt 10 and the Firm but with the volunteer groups. It should succeed not because of the Liberal Party, the Hyatt 10 and the Firm but because of the volunteer groups.
Or so if there is justice in this world. Or in this government.