But I’m not purely happy today. I’m also a bit sad.
As one of the many then-students who took to the streets to call for the ouster of the then-President Joseph Ejercito Estrada, I am happy with the verdict. No, I don’t feel happy because a man of such stature has to suffer all these but I can only say that our indiscretions in the past, regardless of our social standing, will eventually catch up with us, if not now, then later. And Erap, as he is fondly called by the people who look up to him, has finally taken the brunt of his extremely easy life in the past.
As his supporters cry, bilog ang mundo (the Earth is round). He hails from a middle class family. He was sent to one of the best schools in the country but was expelled for fighting. Because of that, he never finished his education, something that ironically brought him fame later on in his life. He turned his attention to the silver screen. His old school family did not approve of his actions and so he was then pitted with the worst punishment any family member could ever receive–he was stripped of his family name and since then has gone by the name of Joseph Estrada. He rose to fame–from small bit roles to stardom. He later became one of the pillars of the Philippine Cinema. He usually played the underdog in the movies that he made. The masses identified with and found hope in the roles that he played–the guy in denims who speaks broken English that was more popularized by the term Carabao English. Gaining more popularity by the hour, Estrada vied for the title of mayor of his hometown, San Juan, and won. His stint as a mayor made him all the more popular that he climbed the political ladder as a senator, veep and later on, as president. All through his life, he took pride in his parties, women, gambling and “friends” until one of these “friends” blew the whistle, which led to the most publicized trial in the country–his impeachment, the first in the Philippines. He left the presidential palace but maintained that he never left his presidency. He was held in house arrest in his resthouse in Tanay where he enjoyed a softer bed, high-end medical treatment and occasional visits to the old Ejercito matriarch. After six long years, the verdict is finally out. Indeed, the world is round. But it is not that round at all because while he has been convicted, he will remain in house arrest. The Filipinos, after all, are a forgiving and soft-hearted lot. We can never afford to see a former president share a cell with the inmates in Munti, the national penitentiary in Muntinlupa.
And so I am happy. At least I did not waste my one-week stay in Edsa in January 2001. I feel that somehow the battle is half-won. From the very instance that Davide uttered the words, “the No votes have it,” I grabbed my windbreaker, a few bills and my apartment keys and hailed a cab. It was almost 10 in the evening and it was a bit windy but the weather remained kind and solicitous. When we got to EDSA, the taxicab driver had to stop a few meters shy from Camp Aguinaldo because the crowd was getting bigger. So I had to walk. Along the way, I met former dormmates, a few classmates, some kababayans and a few other ka-isko and iska. What started as a gloomy night turned into an impromptu party. The LFS, then active NDF members, and other militant groups who had megaphones chanted Erap Resign! Everybody gladly joined in. I remember being teary-eyed when I got there. It was really something else! There were no organizers, no leaders, no nothing. It was a united move by people from all walks of life. Unknown to us who first arrived in the EDSA Shrine where everybody else converged, the late Cardinal Sin urged the people in his circle to take the trial to the streets. And so a few hours later, priests, seminarians, nuns, brothers and other religious groups arrived. I remember Tessie Tomas. She climbed on top of one of the stranded vehicles and borrowed a megaphone from one of the militant group leaders. She performed! And it made the evening a fun evening with a very serious cause. Then I saw Prof. Randy David with Atty. Katrina Legarda, God, she looks like a Goddess in person! Really! The presence! And then the first politician that I saw that night was Teofisto Guingona. Like the trapo that he is, he went around and shook hands with everybody. Because I thought he was loyal to the cause, I gladly shook hands with him too. Had I known he’d one of the worst turncoats of all time, I never would have. If I can only wash the memories off my hands! At around 2 in the morning, people who brought bread, biscuits, and etc, literally broke bread with those beside and behind them. I remember really feeling so moved by that. The loud berating of the 11 hudas (Filipino slang for traitor, after Judas Iscariot) senators was also fun. I was in EDSA from dusk till dawn, more like from around 4PM before the mass to around 8AM just to grab a power nap and then attend my classes–not for long because UP, especially CMC (College of Mass Comm), went to EDSA in full force, so classes were unofficially suspended. Oh how I danced when Estrada finally stepped down, even if he continues to vehemently deny having done so! And I remember feeling a bitchy glee when JV Ejercito cried like a girl!
I am not pro-Gloria but when she took her oath of office, I jumped up and down. She was the next best thing then. While I can’t turn a deaf ear on her and her family’s indiscretions, I can’t find it in me to call for her resignation. For what? To install Loren Legarda, Manny Villar, Noli de Castro, Estrada, JDV, or any other ambitious wolves in sheep’s clothing? Jeez! Yes she has a lot to answer for but we can’t deny the fact that she has made a lot of changes in the country that we live in. People still complain about poverty but only because the politicians that we are used to loving are those who are there for us on KBLs–kasal, bunyag, lubong. We are used to asking for dole-outs for anything, from meal tickets to job placements to winning bids. We can’t handle having a president who wants to make huge changes for long-term progress. Yes, the president has a lot to answer for but the peso has never enjoyed this much value since Estrada left. A million and one calls for her resignation have come and gone but not one has succeeded. You have to give the lady credit for having a stronghold on her presidency. I have always admired cunning people and I will always say that women are more cunning and scheming than men will ever be. So if I were to choose between a stupid and corrupt president, and a cunning and corrupt lady president, I’d take the latter. At least she knows what she’s doing.
In line with Estrada’s guilty verdict, I can only admire Sen. Lacson’s gentlemanly comment.
“While I’m saddened, even shocked by the guilty verdict, it is not for a layman like me to judge the Sandiganbayan justices who rendered the decision. I may choose to disagree or be disheartened by the sentence of reclusion perpetua but the justices obviously had better access to all d information and evidence they need to arrive at their unanimous decision,” he said.
“Lacson expressed hope that the Supreme Court can arrive at a fair and just decision.
“The next legal battle for the former president is just about to unfold…In the meantime, I will, in my own personal capacity do whatever I can to console and provide moral support to the former president,” he added.”
I personally do not like Sen. Lacson because of his penchant for disclosing half-baked exposés. As he personally said, he’s but a layman. I come from a family of lawyers and I know that you never have a case until you have evidence that is admissible in the court of law. Otherwise, what you have is pure hearsay. That’s one of the reasons why I will never join in the clamour for GMA’s resignation. When I get the time, I’ll write about it, but for now, I’ll rest my case.
Oh, I’m also sad, and it’s partly because of Pres. GMA and Estrada. The value of dollar took another plunge today. Just when it’s payday for some of my projects!
By the way, my deep admiration bordering on infatuation (oh God, I really like OLDER men!) for Joker Arroyo. In all the days that I was in EDSA for that so-called uprising, he never showed up. He would have gotten more exposure there especially when he spearheaded the prosecution panel. I remember the thundering applause that he always gets when his name is mentioned but he never took the centerstage. There were talks that he went there but stayed in the chapel away from the maddening crowd. Unlike Loren Legarda who loved it so much when the crowd applauded for her. I hope she doesn’t forget that she became a more prominent figure because she cried when another turncoat, Pimentel “resigned” as Senate President. Oh the drama that our politics play! This is why I like GMA’s (the network) Telebabad more.
AFP.”Estrada: from movie star to Philippine president — to jailbird.” TodayOnline. Sept. 12, 2007. http://www.todayonline.com/articles/210701.asp
Uy, Veronica. “Senators ‘saddened’ by Estrada verdict but say just Round 1.” INQUIRER.net. Sept. 12, 2007. http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view_article.php?article_id=88125