Art Macapagal and Grace Poe


Last Monday, Art Montesa, who succeeded me as Bedan ed-in-chief in San Beda (I myself followed Raul Roco), emailed: “Hi All, Please offer prayers for Arturo Macapagal, HS’57, son of the late President Diosdado Macapagal who is confined at Makati Medical. . . . Arthur and I share the same birthdate and year.”

The Sandiganbayan granted her request to visit her brother from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. last Tuesday, August 11. Her lawyers said that Art had been confined in the intensive care unit in Makati Med since July 2 last. He passed on last Tuesday. The motion to visit came too late for shortly thereafter, Art left for his final journey home.

He’s now in Heritage Park.

He was the reason this promdi was able to enter Malacañang in the early 60’s. On his invite, we walked from San Beda (which he attended for grade and high schools and Commerce) to the Palace. No barricades. No barbed wire. Pleasant merienda.

My last correspondence with him must have been about Vicki Manalo Draves, the Fil-Brit who won two diving golds in the London Olympiad of 1948, carrying the American colors.

Decency was Art’s middle name. He never took undue advantage of his being the son and half-brother of Malacañang Tenants. No whiff of scandal about him. He starred in shooting, inter alia.

In 2006, my late wife took a fancy on a Grandia. I wrote to Art after she groused that the waiting list was rather long. Art, Toyota Bosschief, accommodated her most fraternally.

DM, his pop, and my first Boss, Dean Feliciano Jover Ledesma, were UST Law classmates. The Dean was born August 11, the date of Art’s homegoing.

Also August-born was FPJ, GS’53, on the 20th. He is listed as Ronald Allan K. Poe, GS’53, named a fellow Bedan of the Century, enabling me to meet him for the first time in 2001 during the recognition ceremony [also listed, Fernando K. Poe GS’56 (Andy Poe)]. FPJ’s daughter Grace is now charged with not being a natural-born Pinoy. As she was found in Jaro, Iloilo, various international covenants, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and Convention on the Rights of the Child, make her so, unless there is proof that she had landed from Mars. She attended UP Manila, and later Boston College (where my Dulce got her social work master’s degree on community organization, at times discombobulating or amusing me with her Jesuitical jiu-jitsu). Grace speaks our language like a native, which she is. Not wors-wors. Our political law teacher, Chief Justice Berting Concepcion, defined for us in 1963 that a natural-born Filipino is “one born a Filipino.” To me, a permanent, not a sometime, changeable thing. Again, she could not have been born a Martian or transmogrified into one.

On her residence, I have read accounts that she has been here for more than a decade, since 2004-05.

Her own father was charged with not being a natural-born Pinoy, said to have been born thru a caesarean operation.

Seriously, in this modern age where travel and communication are what they are, one can be abroad and be abreast of what’s happening here, the seeming rationale of the law. Grace, while in the US, knew what was going on here, thanks to the Internet, cell phones, Skypes, ANC, fax, etc. It is not as if she is tabula rasa as to same. The spirit that giveth life, not the letter that killeth. The social media alone could be amazing, with the latest news and the latest tsismis, to spice up cable news. The residence requirement may be Jurassic now, in her case. We are past the age of American President Lines, Pan American Airways, telegrams, telex, photostats, and long waits for PLDT connections, with party lines.

If she loses in 2016, assuming the Supreme Court does not disqualify her with finality before May, 2016, moot and academic; she wins convincingly, the people will have spoken, the Bosses even of the Supreme Court, which, according to Mr. Dooley, takes notice of “th’ iliction returns”, as vox populi. She wins narrowly, problem. She’d better win big. Then, nema problema.

Do I indicate who I will vote for in 2016? Not necessarily. I want to see first who will remain standing a few months from now. If they will be Jojobama, Bongbong (on his Mom’s prodding) and Digong Duterte (with whose Mom I marched in Davao after Ninoy was salvaged), the human rights community will most probably go with Jojobama. Of course if Mar Roxas contends, along with Grace, all bets are off. Then, there is Miriam. Ping. Even Mil Sabio. Labo-labo.

Premier Harold Wilson once said that one week is a long time in politics.

I go to a lot of wakes, funerals and memorials these days, intimations of mortality. Hele-hele-bago-quiere

Bedan Digong Duterte mentions his age as one reason he isn’t running. Nullified by “sigaw ng bayan” as Destiny?

But, indeed, “[w]hat though the radiance that was once so bright, be now forever taken from my sight, though nothing can bring back the hour, of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower, grieve not, rather find, strength in what remains behind.”

Who will remain standing when 2016 begins? That may be the time to make up one’s mind. Even a week may be a long time.

* * *

Next week marks the third death anniversary of Jesse Robredo, whose widow, Leni is now being pushed for Veep. I had a positive impression of her as my stude in the San Beda Graduate School of Law.


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  1. Jesse Robredo never used any popular names to be known, only the character he shows to the people that brings him in fame unlike other politicians and opportunists who used actors to ride in their fame, the integrity himself why he always remember the way he leads. So the continuity of what we are aspiring is through his wife Leni Robredo at ang VP ko :-) @Yahoo!

  2. Jesse Robredo never used any person to be known…just himself alone by doing good deeds, the integrity in the character unlike other politicians, the opportunists are trying to get the attention of some popular…the self- interest and never minding the people who wish to change life for the better. I prefer Leni Robredo; ang VP ko :-)

    The total trust is to be given to her…