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Two for the campaign road

“Is it true that when you were younger you wanted to be a rock star?” Sen. Bongbong Marcos was asked during yesterday’s “Bulong Pulungan sa Sofitel.” His quick reply: “I still want to be,” although he conceded that “it may be a little late for that.”

Given his affinity for rock stars, then, would he sign a petition currently circulating on local social media asking Ringo Starr, one of only two surviving Beatles, to come to the Philippines despite the rather raucous “goodbye” the band received on its first and only visit here?

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“In fact, I’ve already met with Ringo,” said the senator, the son of Rep. (at that time first lady) Imelda Marcos whose henchmen, it was alleged, kicked, pummeled and chased away the “Fab Four” as they made their way through the airport and onto the plane after playing in a one-time concert here.

Arranged by Ringo’s wife, the meeting went off without a hitch, said the senator, although he couldn’t help asking Ringo: “Could you tell me why you didn’t make it to the Palace?” (The Beatles were supposed to meet with the Marcoses in Malacañang but supposedly snubbed the event, which provoked the stormy reaction.)

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Marcos said Ringo replied: “We didn’t even know about it!” Apparently, Beatles manager Brian Epstein refused to let the young men meet with the Marcoses and didn’t even tell them about the scheduled meeting.

And where would he take Ringo if and when the Beatles drummer does come for a visit? “I would bring him to the most beautiful part of the country—Ilocos” was the senator’s quick reply, proof that, at least in terms of charm and wit, the son is the equal of the father.

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“I have been groomed to be president ever since I was three years old,” the senator replied to questions about a possible presidential run in 2016. “You know my mother, she’s been telling me that from childhood.”

But his decision to throw his hat into the ring, he added, all depends on the Nacionalista Party to which he belongs. “At this point, nothing is certain yet, unlike in previous elections when the serious candidates had already made their intentions known.” Alternatively, would he consent to run as the running mate of that declared “presidentiable,” Vice President Jejomar Binay? “That hasn’t come up yet,” he confessed, but it might be difficult “given that the two senators (Alan Peter Cayetano and Sonny Trillanes) who are most critical of him (Binay) belong to my party.”

In attitude and demeanor, though, it seems obvious that Bongbong is more than open to the idea of a presidential run. And not only that: As early as today, there are signs that the Marcos political dynasty is well on its way to becoming entrenched. Recently, his eldest son Sandro, who is about to start his final year in college in the United Kingdom, was sent to represent Bongbong at a student gathering, and the good-looking young man created quite a stir among the coeds. And it’s not only Sandro who shows signs of interest in politics, but his brothers, too, Simon and Vincent. Then there are the sons of Imee Marcos, the Ilocos Norte governor, “and also the son of Irene,” the youngest of the Marcos children.

Certainly, the blessing and burden of the Marcos name must weigh not only on the children but also on the next generation. Maybe that’s why, along with a thick hide, they all have had to resort to a sense of humor to get them through the brickbats. Asked why his mother reportedly lost P5 million in the past year, judging from her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth, Bongbong expressed surprise, but added that “maybe she bought some shoes.” That brought the house down.

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Another political scion eyeing a higher national post is Pasig Rep. Roman Romulo, who is on this third and last term.

Although he counts as his major accomplishments in the House the passage of several bills that have to do with education, public health and culture, particularly the “Iskolar ng Bayan” and a unified scholarship program for deserving and destitute students, that is not what Romulo is best known for. Admit it or not, he is best known for his courtship of and marriage to Shalani Soledad, a former Valenzuela City (Bulacan) councilor who made a name for herself as a TV host and public figure. Indeed, his colleagues even dubbed him “Romance Romulo” at the height of their courtship.

At the moment, he says, everything is still in flux and the Liberal Party, to which he belongs, has yet to finalize its senatorial lineup. “Party leaders are still firming up who our candidates for president and vice president will be,” he explains, “and only then will they draw up the senatorial slate.”

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But when it comes to accomplishments, Romulo has more than enough qualifications to make a credible and winnable run for the Senate, having proved to be one legislator who takes his responsibilities seriously.

As chair of the House committee on higher and technical education, he has concentrated much of his time and efforts in helping streamline the education system, especially given the many challenges faced in implementing the K-to-12 program, and especially in providing more opportunities for young people to better themselves.

One of his proudest achievements, he says, is the passage of the “Iskolar ng Bayan” Law, which would provide at least 80,000 of the best-performing high school graduates with scholarships in 112 state universities and colleges.

To his surprise, he says, while he has been going around the country he has found that “very few seem to know about the program. He is thus seeking the help of the media in spreading the word about this much-needed program to benefit the truly “best and brightest” of the country’s youth.

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TAGS: 2016 Elections, Beatles, Bongbong Marcos, education, Ilocos Region, K to 12, Ringo Starr, Roman Romulo, shalani soledad
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