• Fernando ‘FPJ’ Poe, Jr.: Politics’ mystery man


    “Full many a gem of purest ray serene,
    The dark unfathomed caves of ocean bear,
    Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness in the desert air.”
            – From Thomas Gray, Elegy in a Country Churchyard

    Fernando Poe, Jr., popularly known as FPJ, is probably the most popular movie star in the Philippines during his time. And his movie career spanned several decades. In Mindanao he was not only an idol of millions, he was seen as a real hero because of his machismo well dramatized in his movie roles as crusader against criminals and as an avenger for justice.

    Not being interested in Filipino movies unless movie critics praise them in media, I do not show any interest in Filipino movie stars. They are too pedestrian for my taste. But I am enthused by movies directed by Lamberto Avellana, Ishmael Bernal, and Lino Broca. But they belong to ages ago, probably even during the time of Methuselah. Of course, that is a hyperbole, but just to prove a point.

    It took a cabal of the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo forces to rig the 2004 presidential elections for me to know FPJ. When I was approached to be lead counsel for FPJ in the presidential national canvassing in Congress, I did not give an immediate reply. Frankly, I had reservations as I thought FPJ would just be as bad a choice as President Joseph “Erap” Estrada – fractured English, no college education, no vision of the country, and no strength of character. So I told the friend who asked me to be lawyer of FPJ to wait for two days, anyhow the national canvassing in Congress was yet to begin.

    I started inquiring about FPJ. There were two incidents related to me about the character of the man. They both defined his character in very clear terms, as the stories go.

    The character of the man

    When President Erap just got elected president, the latter sent to FPJ a brand new Mercedes Benz as a gesture of gratitude for helping him win the election. When the messenger reached the FPJ residence informing him that a Mercedes Benz was sent to him by President Erap, FPJ immediately called the President by phone in Tagalog but which is translated here in English.

    “Pare, what is this Mercedes Benz?” FPJ asked President Erap.

    “Pare, that is my gift to you for helping me win the election,” President Erap replied.

    “Pare, I thought you are my friend! You don’t give a friend a gift for doing you a favor. That is what friendship is all about – doing things for him as a friend. I am returning the Benz to you. I don’t need it,” FPJ curtly told President Erap.

    When the story was related to me, I said to myself, this is not only a man of character he is a person with the right values and knows well the meaning of friendship.

    The other story also involves President Erap. After winning the election, in a party thrown by friends in President Erap’s honor, FPJ, as a known buddy of the President, was seated beside him. After a while, Atong Ang arrived and when FPJ saw him, he whispered to President Erap, “Pare, as President you don’t need people like him. He will likely spoil, if not tarnish, your presidency. You should keep him at a distance!”

    “But Pare, he is our friend,” Erap answered, hoping to placate FPJ After five minutes, FPJ left the party obviously disappointed by President Erap’s reply.

    These incidents proved to me that FPJ is a man of character, with admirable values on friendship and public governance. I started to change my initial views about the man. So two days later when I learned about these stories and confirmed their truth from less biased sources, I accepted the legal engagement.

    In my conversations with him, I deepened my respect for FPJ. He spoke pretty good English and he presented his views without hesitation, descriptive of a man with principles and strong opinions.

    More revelations on his character

    One time when he was at his hideaway in his Antipolo City resthouse, FPJ invited me and lawyer Vicente “Vic” Millora – one time President of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Member of Parliament and former governor of Pangasinan – who was scheduled to be one of my co-counsels, FPJ told me, in casual conversation and without pretense, “You know, Attorney, these senators think and behave as though they could manipulate me.

    Well, they are entirely wrong. They cannot hold me by the nose. You see I have my own mind and I know what to do as President. They are entirely wrong about me.” His face was serious and I knew from the stories I heard about him he exactly meant what he said.

    While I had these moments with him, I thought to myself this is the man who should be President of the Philippines as he knows what he would be doing, He could ably propel the ship of state to the port of destination, without fun fare and without nonsense. It was at this point that I decided to accept the case and to know him better, lawyer Vic Millora and Edmer Lim, man Friday of FPJ who negotiated my legal engagement, went to the residence of FPJ at Greenhills for breakfast.

    Before going to the breakfast table, he brought me to a corner and told me, “You know, Attorney, you are the only lawyer helping me in my case who is being paid. The rest are volunteer lawyers. Please don’t tell Susan (FPJ’S wife) that I paid you.”

    “Of course, I’ll keep it a secret,” I replied. I kept my word up to this day, without telling Susan. But if she reads this, then she will know.

    One fine morning, Edmer Lim brought my acceptance fee to my residence, in cash. The amount he brought to my residence was only half of the amount of my billing because Edmer told me that in order to make FPJ trust him some more, he would tell FPJ that the other half of the amount would be paid by him. Of course that was all make-believe because Edmer Lim did not give me one centavo from the other half.

    On the day I was paid my acceptance fee, I was scheduled to enter my written entry of appearance in Congress at the Batasan Hills, Quezon City where the national canvassing was scheduled to be held. I could not do so because I had a conference with a foreign client late that afternoon.

    A turning point

    That evening, I had the shock of my life when Edmer Lim called me that I would no longer be lead counsel with lawyer Harriet Demetriou, former Chairperson of the Comelec, because there were senators and other high profile personalities in the camp of FPJ who objected to my appearance as counsel in his case. When I pressed Edmer to give me the names of the objectors, he refused to identify them, saying that it would be FPJ who would tell me when we see him for breakfast at his residence the following morning.

    The following morning when I, lawyer Vic Millora and Edmer Lim arrived at the residence of FPJ, he greeted me and said, “Attorney, you have many enemies in the Senate and because of their demand, you have to excuse me if you can no longer lawyer for me in the national canvassing.”

    “I really don’t mind, but please tell me, who are these senators because I never imagined having enemies in the Senate?” I asked FPJ.

    The gentleman that he was, FPJ replied, ”Edmer will tell you who they are, and by the way, do you mind if you’ll just be one of my consultants?” He said.

    “No, I don’t. But please understand that I can no longer return to you my acceptance fee,” I told him since under the rules of our profession, an acceptance fee cannot be returned if it is the client who changes his mind about the legal engagement since acceptance fee prevents the lawyer from accepting the case of the opposing party in the case.
    “Of course, I understand that,” FPJ replied.

    When we left the residence of FPJ, I asked Edmer Lim who were the objectors to my appearance as lead counsel of FPJ in the national canvassing. Teary-eyed, Edmer identified the high profile personalities as Senators Edgardo Angara, Aquilino Pimentel, Jr., Teresita “Dancing Queen” Aquino-Oreta, Tito Sotto and Mayor Jojo Binay of Makati City, now Vice-President of the Philippines. Wonder of wonders, some of these politicians later joined Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the opponent of FPJ in the 1998 presidential election. Whoever were the advisers of FPJ, they misled him into taking the advice of these personalities who in that instance were obviously thinking of their own political interests than the welfare of FPJ and the whole country.

    The “noted” rulings Of Gonzales and Pangilinan

    The national canvassing showed that if FPJ were represented by lawyers who could not be intimidated by then Representative Raul Gonzales of Iloilo and Senator Kiko Pangilinan of Pampanga, the story of the 2004 presidential election would have been different.

    It amazed me how lawyers of FPJ meekly accepted the rulings of Gonzales and Pangilinan on the issues involving the genuineness or validity of the certificates of canvass from the provinces and cities. It was a matter of common knowledge that the troops of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) cheated massively in the elections which resulted in the illegal proclamation of GMA. The Garci tapes and the later apology of GMA told the whole story.

    The rulings spelling “Noted” are no rulings. The FPJ lawyers should have asked the two men to rule on the objections so they could be appealed to the plenary session of the national canvassing board, and thereafter to the people. The goose of Gloria, Gonzales and Pangilinan would have been cooked. And the country could have been saved from the catastrophe of another six years of the GMA administration

    But you cannot undo history. This one single error of the FPJ advisers to listen to the five traditional politicians mainly contributed to disaster that was the GMA administration.

    End of a wonderful beginning

    Like a thunderbolt, mainstream media announced that FPJ suffered a heart or cerebral attack and was confined at the St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City. Indicative that he really got elected President of the Philippines were the throngs from all walks of life who stormed the hospital just so they could have a last glimpse of FPJ and prayed that he survive the heart or cerebral attack. But prayers were not enough, FPJ died in the embrace of the Lord.

    My last moment in FPJ’s life was his funeral at the Manila North Cemetery. The plan, I was informed, was for the crowds to march to Malacañang, and take it from there. But the march did not materialize. The information from the grapevine was that Jojo Binay was the one who barked the orders not to go through with the march. Whether this is true, I really do not know. Considering Binay’s intervention in the choice of FPJ’s lawyers in the national board of canvassers in the 2004 presidential election, it is possible that Binay did bark the controversial order.

    In the history of countries, it is unfortunate that sometimes small and selfish minds have opportunities to manipulate events to the detriment of the countries where they come from. The case of FPJ as a victim is one of them. If FPJ sat as President of the Philippines since he was duly elected, though not proclaimed, the country would have greatly changed for the better and would have been saved from the pretentious, incompetent and catastrophic PNoy Aquino administration.


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    1. FPJ and Erap have 2 things in common, heavy drinker and womanizer. Nobody can see the future if FPJ was elected president. He does not have any experience in public service and do not have proper education. These 2 things are a necessity to become a good president.

    2. This article of Bono Adaza is another Propaganda Rubbish – full of hypocrisy. It is just because FPJ shows honesty manifested by returning the Benz – and he becomes a good man?? – Dapat ito kay Bono Iartukulo Uno – Laging bad si PGMA , all he is telling his readers is own version of “SBS” (SOBRANG BILIB SA SARILI) story…my God Times – please get another columnist …..We don’t deserved to read trash here..

      • You have the same comment as before, you want atty Bono to stop writing here, yet you cant help but read his columns?! You must be voting for Binay.

    3. Rudi Miranda on

      FPJ must be a nice person because a police traffic officer took his place in Muntinlupa, for shooting dead the driver of the car in the traffic incident in Del Monte Avenue in Quezon City.

    4. With few good report about FPJ you judged already a person a good stateman? Anyway, since you are paid without lawyering for him, this article is a good complement to get even.

    5. I agree FPJ is FPJ, Grace Poe Llamanzares is not the blood of FPJ, she is a blood of Marcos-Sonora. What do you think of a heavy smoker lady. She was given a chance to clear her name being rumored for 47 years that she was a daughter of Ferdinand Marcos & Rosemarie Sonora in 1968 that originated in a party of Susan Roces as proven by Susan, Rosemarie, Ferdinand Marcos, Teresita & Bennet Sonora taken in 1967 group picture that started the affair. Why is she was time her time to look & unearth dead people buried in Camaguin when her neighbor Bongbong Marcos who called her Kapatid offered her voluntarily to have a D & A test with him to once and for all to end the 47 years undying rumor. My goodness

    6. You say: “If FPJ sat as President of the Philippines since he was duly elected, though not proclaimed, the country would have greatly changed for the better and would have been saved from the pretentious, incompetent and catastrophic PNoy Aquino administration”. I disagree. This is just speculation on your part. How you can arrive at this conclusion on the basis of two to three measly pieces of anecdotal evidence is unbelievable. Besides, how can you say FPJ had “character” when he quickly succumbed to his advisers and got rid of you as his lawyer? And most importantly, did he not run for the presidency because of ERAP’s urging and blandishments? ERAP was afraid that he would end up in jail if GMA would be elected, and hoped that under the presidency of his friend FPJ, he would get off scot-free. Unfortunately for the two of them, It seemed that Heaven knew best and intervened.

    7. Rigging real election outcomes weakens not only our institutions in place but all of us.
      It would have been better for our institutions and for us all if the real winner in that particular election was proclaimed. The rigging is so obvious but the mainstream media kept mum. Apparently, the latter can not accept an FPJ presidency which is naivete on their part. We can not progress as a nation if we intentionally weaken our institutions. America is as great only as its institutions are strong.The americans know this by heart that is why they will do everything in their power to preserve their institutuons.

    8. Andi Juliano on

      A person can not live as president on character and principles alone, there also has to be ability.

      But we are in the Philippines, perceptions (be they valid or not) and ‘abilidad’ not actual ability are supreme in choosing those who will govern us.

    9. Your conclusion “If FPJ sat as President of the Philippines… the country would have greatly changed for the better and would have been saved from the pretentious, incompetent and catastrophic PNoy Aquino administration.” Why PNoy? That’s just another stab at PNoy. It was Gloria who was declared as President. PNoy came much later.

    10. Mark Laperal on

      Thanks for the article. It’s really worth remembering FPJ for his character, honesty and more.

    11. It is sad that a great opportunity was stolen from the Filipinos. For those who knows the King really well will understand why Grace always utter legacy of my father. FPJ is too great to be our President and both the oligarchs and the tradpols will never allow that.

    12. But if we are to base our choice of president on CHARACTER and PRINCIPLES, all of those candidates will fail – except maybe, Digong because he still lives in the same old house. I am not saying that I am ranting for Duterte but it seems that he may be the only one among them who may still have rejected the trappings of power that comes from sacrificing character and principles. Even Ms. Miriam could not have built that multi-level house in QC with just her salary as BID Commissioner before.

    13. Mariano Patalinjug on

      Yonkers, New York
      01 April 2016

      Top-flight Lawyer Homobono Adaza’s memory is nothing less than exceptionally amazing the way he recalls here his encounters with movie idol FERNANDO POE, JR.

      Even as late as now, when he must be in his early seventies, his memory seems to be as pristine as when he was still a law student at the University of the Philippines where simultaneously he was the Editor of the “Collegian.”

      I sincerely congratulate him for what I deem to be an unusual or exceptional feat of Memory.

      I also congratulate him for prefacing this column of his in the Manila Times of April 1st with a quote of a few lines from Thomas Gray’s beautiful poem, “Elegy Written in a Country’s Churchyard,” which, incidentally is one of my favorites.”

      It is a pity that FPJ lost the presidency to GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO by what obviously were means “foul and Machiavellian.” GMA is now facing the charge of “rigging the elections of 2007,” a non-bailable crime, before the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City, and of the other charge of Plunder, also a non-bailable crime, before the Sandiganbayan. What I and may other people may find galling is that she has successfully feigned illness, but continues to act as a Representative from Pampanga when instead she should be inside the National penitentiary in Muntinlupa City.


      • Francis Dizon on

        1. Justice delayed is justice denied. Uncertainties could spell disaster, even for a woman of her stature. What say you about our judicial system? Care to comment about Erap, MM mayor or our distinguished senator from Cagayan, Mr JP Enrile?
        2. In my teens, I frequented a watering hole w
        here a ladyfriend was the keyboard player of the band. On a regular basis, 2 very close friends will be there late at night and get pissed till the wee hours the next day. The band, who by midnight are half exhausted would be asked to stay and continue playing until the two and friends would call it a day. My friend told me “wala kami kasing magawa. Nung minsang tumutol ako, sampal napala ko”
        Those 2 friends were Erap and Ronnie.

    14. Johnny Ramos on

      You should also write about FPJ habit while filming a movie. Did you know no one tell in the film set can call him that he next to be film or he will walk out in the set? Try to watch his most his film and you will never see him barefoot or even wearing sleepers. He was even wearing boots in portraying a fisherman in the movie Alupihan Dagat. This guy has the habit of not getting out of room for 3 straight days because he is feeling lazy. Just imagine if he ever became a president.

      • How about yun constant na may pinag tritripan sa film set at bubugbugin at babayaran na lang para magpagamot?

      • do not forget the all night binge drinking with his barkada. according to knowledgeable sources, he suffered heart attack while having drinks with his barkadas in a party.