POONA BAYABAO, Lanao del Sur — “Fernando Poe, Fernando Poe.” With clenched fists and his right hand raised, octogenarian Hadji Mohammad Monte repeated the name of the late action star like a mantra when asked whom he voted for in the last presidential elections. He insisted that Poe was number one among the residents of this town where the late king of Philippine movies was — and still is — very popular.
UNTIL last month, the heavens seemed to have favored Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The economy was picking up, the stock market was trading briskly, and Congress had just passed a new tax measure. For sure, the budget deficit and rising oil prices were something to worry about. At the same time, the opposition seemed bent on raking the jueteng muck. But all these were part of life — and politics — as usual.
JOSE Ma. Sison should cry at all the wasted talent. He could have won the revolution if the movement had stayed its course and kept its children from straying into the forbidden capitalist and reactionary world. (He shares a large part of the blame, too, of course, for steering a hard-line course and ousting — not to mention possibly ordering the elimination — of some of the best cadres from the party.) At any rate, these days, many of us who used to be part of the underground are all over the place. Some of us run telecommunications companies, public utilities, banks, and even the highest offices of government. Many form that segment of the middle class that supports decent candidates.
AT LEAST Panfilo Lacson tells it like it is — or how it could be. Elect him as president and we could probably expect someone like Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, or Thailand’s Thaksin Shinawatra at the helm. All three are known for being, as the TV ad says, “buo ang loob, walang takot (determined, without fear),” traits that supposedly enabled them to steer their countries into becoming economic powerhouses. According to the ad, Lacson has the same traits as well, and its logic argues that these would enable him to do wonders for the Philippine economy, too.