Coming out of college, our big ambition as aspiring writers was to write the great follow-up to Nick Joaquin’s astounding novel, The Woman Who Had Two Navels. But no matter how hard we tried, the goal eluded us. Navels was beyond reach.
So it comes as a shock to me that Grace Poe Llamanzares may be the one who has equaled or even surpassed Joaquin’s masterwork. She has done it by doing something even better than fiction; she has invented and written her own life, which bears this surreal title
“Grace Poe: The Woman Who
Was Born Twice.”
Members of the Writers union of the Philippines (Unyon ng mga Manunualat sa Pilipinas) concede hands down that being born twice is a greater feat of imagination than having two navels. It competes even with the Virgin Birth.
A life from magic realism?
When Sen. Grace Poe’s lawyers submitted two certificates of live birth to the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET), they in effect asserted her double birth. She is a natural-born Filipino twice over, more than you and me. Who knows, her desperate lawyers might employ this argument.
I asked an evangelical if this naturally qualifies her as a “born again” person. The qualifications are weird; there has to be a death before there can be rebirth.
Senator Poe will have to clear up her double birth. Kids in grade school are wondering how this came about. They will keep on wondering until they get an answer that destroys the question.
If her first birth certificate is true, that means one woman gave birth to her.
If her second birth certificate is true, that Susan Roces gave birth to her, this gives her another mother.
Had Poe’s fantastic tale hewed to literary tradition, like Nick Joaquin, the phenomenon of her double birth could be described as “magic realism” – the literary style unique to Latin America and popularized by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a style to which Nick Joaquin was partial.
Giving up citizenship for love
Senator Poe displayed her explanatory gift last Wednesday when she tried to explain to her bewildered countrymen why she gave up her Filipino citizenship and gave her allegiance to America. She did it all for love of her husband and her children, who are all Americans.
She came back to the Philippines for the sake of her mother, Susan Roces, who was widowed by the death of her father, Fernando Poe Jr.. “She needed me.”
(She has an equally surreal double bond with Susan Roces, who is presented sometimes as her adoptive mother, and at other times as her biological mother. This is another nut to crack in the fantastic story of Grace Poe Llamanzares.)
Then the Senator launched a spirited and patriotic plug for her quest for the highest office of the land. “It is a bigger challenge and privilege to serve the nation. I will not turn my back on this call to service, because this is an opportunity to help so many among our people.
“ For me, being Filipino is not only based on a piece of paper or a slogan. Being Filipino is living with honor, living according to values and sincere service. I believe I would not be supported by the Makabayan bloc if they did not believe that I am a true and good Filipino.”
(Makabayan, the left-wing party-list group, endorsed Senator Poe’s candidacy for president, and she in turn endorsed Makabayan’s Neri Colmenares’ candidacy for senator. A mutually profitable exchange.)
Will Grace Poe now embark on the challenge of explaining to our people how she was born twice?
Will she clear up the different names in her two birth certificates. Which name is true, and which is false?
A riddle wrapped in a mystery
If she can untangle this riddle, she can explain to the nation why she is running for an office for which she is constitutionally ineligible.
Her explanatory gift will come in handy when she has to explain the complexities of international law, the delusional law of presumption, and the thickets of governance.
When it’s all just a matter of words, you can solve anything., because you can invent anything or simply lie.
But even fiction must be governed by some form of logic and rigor. there comes a point when you must explain the contradictions and inconsistencies.
Perhaps the most apt description of Grace Poe is the Churchillian quip, “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” Alas, it’s so witty and seductive, it might induce many of our countrymen to vote for her.
I am already kicking myself for mentioning it here. The show-biz media and her publicist might pick it up.