The Chambers of the Papas (and the Mamas)


IT’S Father’s Day tomorrow, the day when children are supposed to give honor to fathers. If children can give the highest homage to fathers by following their footsteps, making them role models, then many senators and congressmen are paying the highest tribute to their fathers. Are these legislators worthy of admiration for paying such honor to their fathers?

There’s Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, son of former Senator and former President Erap Estrada. Let’s hear from Jinggoy: “Naging mayor ng San Juan si Erap; naging mayor ng San Juan din ako. Naging senador si Erap, naging senador din ako. Nakulong si Erap; nakulong din ako.”

(I guess Jinggoy could give my former boss at The Philippine STAR a run for his money. Like his father Modesto Farolan, Gen. Ramon Farolan became a Customs commissioner, an ambassador and editor-in-chief of a daily newspaper.)

How about Sen. TG Guingona? His father is former Sen. Teofisto “Tito” Guingona, a much admired nationalist. Sen. Sonny Angara became senator immediately after his father, the eminent educator and lawyer Edgardo J. Angara, ended his second term. This was also the case with Sen. Bong Revilla, son of Sen. Ramon Revilla, and with Sen. Pia Cayetano, daughter of the late Sen. Rene Cayetano.

Oh yes, in the case of Bong Revilla, he “inherited” from his father not only the seat in the Senate but also the chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Public Works.

Like his father former President Ferdinand Marcos, Bongbong Marcos became a senator although they were elected 47 years apart. The same could be said of President BS Aquino and his father, the late Ninoy Aquino.

Among the former senators were Gerardo and Mar Roxas. Both were also former congressmen from Capiz, like Mar’s late brother Dinggoy.

The House, being the bigger chamber, has more members whose fathers were once congressmen. Rep. Amado Bagatsing of Manila is son of the late Rep. Ramon Bagatsing Jr. His younger brother Dondon served in the House simultaneously with him from 1987 to 1998 although they represented different districts.

Also children of former congressmen were Representatives Sandy Ocampo of Manila, Joseph Violago and Magnolia Rosa Antonino both of Nueva Ecija, Joseph “Ace” Durano of Cebu, Francis Abaya of Cavite, Frederick Abueg of Palawan, Ansarudin Adiong of Lanao del Sur, Rodolfo Albano 3rd of Isabela, Franz Alvarez of Palawan, Rolando Andaya Jr. and Felix Fuentebella of Camarines Sur, Rimpy Bondoc of Pampanga Carlo Cua of Quirino; andMark Enverga and Vicente Alcala of Quezon.

I guess I have to stop here as I find the census too depressing. I’ve counted at least 21 other incumbent congressmen whose fathers were once members of the House also. They’re too many to enumerate here. And if I’m to include those with mothers who also got elected to the chamber, the list will be kilometric. The same goes with the Senate. Once, an irreverent Senate reporter called a mother and son team “Luisa and Son.” Don’t ask anymore why the Philippine legislature ought to be called “The Houses of the Papas and the Mamas.”

You might wonder: “How about the kuyas, ates, husbands, wives and concubines?” This column is about Father’s Day so let’s confine the enumeration to the fathers of congressmen.

This making of elective positions a virtual family enclave holds true even in local governments. No wonder, Philippine politics can be appropriately labeled a family business that’s virtually off-limits to outsiders. Some political families have become so entrenched that they could field even the family pet as candidate and make it win.

Since the Eighth Congress, there have been many attempts to give flesh to the constitutional ban on political dynasties. None has succeeded. There’s a new move to come up with such a law but I have no confidence that such a measure would even reach the floor of the House.

Thus, this issue is now left to the voters to decide. We’ll see if the upcoming 17th Congress will be, like its predecessors, the Houses of the Papas and the Mamas.

Personal note:
Like other fathers, I had wanted my favorite daughter Irene to be like me. When she was still in high school, she could write better than I did when I was her age. I knew she would do well as a journalist but she refused to take up Journalism or MassCom after high school.

“One journalist in the family is enough,” my headstrong daughter said and that’s that.

Well, Irene’s now a registered pharmacist in Nevada working at a Walgreens store in Las Vegas – and she’s earning in less than a month what I used to earn in a year as a journalist.

So, who says father knows best?


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