Happy Birthday to me/us

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RENE SAGUISAG

IN the last few weeks, at the Eclipse in Solaire where I dancexercise, during breaks, on the huge screen would be the dominant presence of Chinese showbiz characters, a novelty to me. They compete with mainly Caucasian types, now that the dazzlingly successful Celeste Solaire come-on ad for her triumphant August 5 comeback is behind us. Another indication, to me, that China is not only coming, it is here. Even my oldest apo, 9, is learning Chinese, say his parents. The youngest, 2, I cannot yet easily understand; she sounds Chinese—if not Greek—to me.

I hope in time they learn more than Confucius saying, if rape is inevitable, to relax and enjoy it, widely misattributed at one point to the polished and genteel Foreign Affairs Secretary Raul S. Manglapus. Not true. Credited with the saying are many others, e.g., temperamental Bobby Knight, but Confucius would appear to be the recorded first.

Speaking of rape, Fielding wrote of the famous seduction of fair Laetitia by Fireblood, who would have raped her, had she not prevented it by her timely consent.

The spacious dance hall at Eclipse is but a small part of a huge Solaire gambling complex, catering to the wealthy. The poor may have only jueteng and its variants. Can anybody check whether jueteng is still around? Bato de la Rosa said, last July 31, that illegal gambling would be gone in 15 days in this anti-poor matapobre government by braggadocio. The Pinoy would bet on anything that moves; you can bet on it. In the nature of the beast, as it were.


Tender-trapped, I spent last Monday with my nuke family in Rockwell to mark my 78th birth anniversary, which annual inevitability I have ignored all my life, if left to me. But some kin and friends are tyrannically persistent and irrepressible, leading to lovely evenings (I was in Milky Way the week before, hosted by my world-class 1987-1992 Senate staff).

Best greeting I got was from my compadre, ex-Comelec chief Boy Brillantes, also born like me on August 14, 1939 (we both lost the lights of our lives via vehicular incidents in Makati); he texted that I was 78 but looked like 88. Thanks, padre, I suspect I am really that, looks wiser, to you, than my age. OK, seriously, in terms of appearance, all he and I have to do is to stand together. Tapos ang boksing. No contest. We lawyers call it autoptic proference, a variety of ocular inspection.

His successor at the Comelec, Andy Bautista, is flavor of the month. He is entitled to be presumed innocent, a basic human and constitutional right. Imagine being supported by his mother-in-law, whew, out of the traditional comic box. She probably is most concerned about the four innocent young children. In my jurassic time, parents sacrificed beyond belief for the offspring. I like to believe we were better for it in not being overly egocentric.

Anyway, when I co-authored and sponsored on the Senate floor what became RA6713, the Ethical Standards Act, now being used against Andy, I had no idea it could lead to the impeachment and conviction of Chief Justice Rene Corona by a Senate court led by Senator JPE. Manong Johnny a tuta of PNoy? Hahaha. Tell me another. And the pork came about a year later, not kaliwaan. Some “bribery.”

Cuz of my pork, our kids may not have been too happy being denied access to guppies in the open canals in what is not the right side of Makati, far from those exclusive plutocratic enclaves. At times, there would be three or four simultaneous wakes on our streets, where the gambling Bato should not stop. Burial money needs to be raised.

On pork, I beg to differ with my friend, Sen. Ping Lacson, who rejects it; still widely used in America, to public benefit. It is not as if we in the Senate all had horns while those in the executive all had halos. If Ping cannot trust his colleagues, surely he can trust himself.

Pork was something we availed ourselves of in 1987-1992 in the Senate. Not even one singkong duling passed through our respective offices. We could only identify and point to projects; I did, public markets in Cebu and Pangasinan (where my late wife was from), a library in Cagayan Valley), an ambulance in Pasig(my paternal hometown) and concreting and covering the open canals in my immediate neighborhood in Barangay Palanan, Makati (there I was a star boarder of my ever-loving wife, Dulce, who, with her co-heirs saw to it that the kids and I would not be homeless). No more “guppies” for our kids.

I am surprised by the number of reported prosecutions and convictions under RA 6713. Widely ignored is my Review and Compliance Procedure under its Sec. 10. My intent was mainly administrative, not punitive, which I would have reserved only for the recalcitrant. I had no difficulty though in accepting the conviction and removal of Rene Corona, whose post-midnight appointment to the highest judicial post, was, to me, egregiously unconstitutional. But, may he rest in peace. His widely respected father was the wedding ninong of our eldest. I judge him by his best in our limited interaction before he left for a better world.

I see where athletic great Usain Bolt took a stunning tumble. Wotta humbling way to go, which Manny Pacquiao should avoid. Last Monday a son of a client advised to avoid saying Pacq U, alluding to an imagined private school of Manny who attends hearings and is voluble in the Senate. In the House, chances of being televised are much lower. Definitely Senate material. He qualifies. He loves the limelight.

Anyway, I am told that the new school of law in Makati—not Pacq U but maybe Binay U—is not only tuition-free, but the few freshmen students who luckily qualified for admission are even to be given stipends of P10,000 each, monthly.(!) The Lanao del Sur local chapter of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines decried human rights abuses in Marawi. I hope some Marawi students can still go to Makati Law next semester, if it’s too late now. But, it just opened this week.

Incidentally, Maute down to 40 reportedly, and still it would take time to liberate Marawi. What if we were missiled by China, maybe the only country which has us in its cross-hairs? How would our military cope when even 40 Mautes could tie us down for a loooong time?

Again, to sing happy birthday to myself, had we not voted NO! in the Senate on September 16, 1991 on extending continued foreign military presence of centuries, would North Korea have threatened us with missiles? A magnet-target status was one of our 1991 arguments, as pointed out this week by a perceptive Bulletin columnist (Getsy Tiglao, just maybe the only one fearless Bobi fears).

Hence, the folly of involving us in the quarrels of the strong, as Don Claro Mayo Recto warned.

We may have an assault of avian flu and even measles, but not of missiles.

Now I am saying “good morning” to myself, as one of the Magnificent/Maleficent 12 who voted NO!

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