Leave while audience still applauding
The last elections, at least at the national level, were a disaster. Only two of my choices made it to the “winning 12.” There go the checks and balances that we had hoped for. Nevertheless, I continue to believe that our elected officials, regardless of affiliation, will put the national interest ahead of party concerns. As President Manuel Quezon declared: “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to the nation begins.” One can also take comfort knowing that in the world of politics “there are no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests.” The fluid and weak multiparty system that we have adopted under the present Constitution does not contribute to strengthening party loyalty.
It is in the local government elections that one can derive satisfaction from the results. Some new leaders have emerged, providing our communities with optimism that meaningful change is now possible with dynamic innovators at the helm of government.
In perhaps the most stunning upset in Metro Manila, a 29-year-old city councilor, Vico Sotto, son of show-biz personalities Vic
Sotto and Coney Reyes, dared to challenge the political clan that had ruled Pasig City for three decades. In the process, he defeated the incumbent mayor Bobby Eusebio. Some people say that Vico won because of the enormous popularity of his parents. While that may be a valid observation, we should not discard the possibility that the people of Pasig were no longer happy with City Hall and the only way to express their frustration was through the ballot box. The victorious Sotto promised transparency in all city hall transactions. It was not only Vico who beat the Eusebios; former representative Roman Romulo won the city’s lone congressional seat, defeating another Eusebio, Ricky, a brother of the mayor.
In Manila and San Juan, the Estrada clan led by former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada, lost all their political races. Isko Moreno won in Manila over Erap, while Francis Zamora defeated Janella, daughter of Jinggoy Estrada, ending 50 years of Estrada domination in San Juan. JV Ejercito and Jinggoy Estrada, sons of Erap, both lost in their senatorial bids. It was a complete wipe-out for the family.
When Alf Landon, a Republican, lost by a huge margin to Franklin Delano Roosevelt in the 1936 US presidential race, he compared his plight to that of a Kansas farmer who stood in his yard laughing, after a tornado destroyed his home, his barn, and everything else standing on his land. An angry wife shouted at him, “What are you laughing at, you darn old fool?” The farmer replied, “The completeness of it all.”
The new tandem of Joy Belmonte and Gian Sotto takes over Quezon City hall on June 30, with housing, education and health care very much their priorities. Joy Belmonte’s nephew, Mikey, has just won his first political race as a city councilor. Mikey, 28, a University of Asia and the Pacific entrepreneurial management graduate, is the son of Miguel and Millet Belmonte.
For the first time in Baguio City history, a Philippine Military Academy graduate, Benjamin Magalong of Class 1982, was elected mayor, defeating the old guards who had dominated city politics for decades. Magalong promised dedicated leadership in addressing the ills that have made the summer capital of the nation a distant shadow of its former self as the favored vacation destination during the Commonwealth years.
In Pangasinan, the province’s political kingpin for many years, Amado Espino Jr., PMA Class 1972, lost to Binalonan Mayor Ramon Guico III, for the fifth district congressional seat in an unexpected turn of events. However, his son Amado Espino III, was reelected as governor.
Abby Binay was reelected mayor of Makati, defeating her brother Junjun. Surprisingly, former vice president Jejomar lost his bid for the first district congressional seat to Kid Peña, a former city vice mayor.
In 1952, Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson lost to Republican Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. When asked how he felt about losing, he told reporters a story about Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was asked how he felt after losing an election before he eventually became president. Lincoln said that “he felt like a little boy who had stubbed his toe in the dark. He was too old to cry, but it hurt too much to laugh.” Perhaps, this is true for many of the losers in the last elections. They are too old to cry, but it hurts too much to laugh. The lesson here is that politicians should be able to discern when their time is up. Unfortunately, most of them believe they are invincible until disaster hits them in the face. Someone said the time to leave the stage, any stage, whether musical or political, is while the audience is still applauding. Otherwise, you might just find yourself being carried off, feet first.
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