Search This Blog


BEWARE. You are about to enter a freedom zone. No censorship. No stereotypes. And completely biased. In my favor. This is my blog and it should be a genuine one. I will give my opinion on politics and governance, both local and international, law, and many other things - like vampires, books by Neil Gaiman, and the L.A. Lakers. In short, I will blog about anything I like. Or dislike.

I demand one thing before you view my random musings, rantings, hopes, and dreams: be open and have a sense of humor. Have that, and you are most welcome here.

Monday, June 28, 2010

F. Sionil Jose's Gold Standard Of An Article

This piece by F. Sionil Jose puts to shame all the other so-called columnists and opinion-makers with its depth, clarity, and intelligence. To all who write, whether for national dailies, school newspapers, or blogs, his advice, nay his admonition, is particularly compelling: "(a)s the late American critic Lionel Trilling said, those who assume the august mantle of opinion shapers and intellectuals must have “a moral obligation to be intelligent.”" For me, this article represents the gold standard in column writing -

Ethics as politics
HINDSIGHT By F Sionil Jose (The Philippine Star) Updated June 27, 2010 12:00 AM

In April 1942, only four months into the Occupation, the horrors of the Bataan Death March had afflicted national consciousness. The Filipinos who collaborated with them were marked. But on the whole, many survived not just the stigma; they were appreciated, some were regarded as heroes, and many of them prospered.

This is one of those anguished outpourings that I have difficulty letting out because it sounds preachy and who am I but just another common sinner who knows only too well of the hidden minefields in self-righteousness? But it must be stated plain and simple — this abysmal lack of ethics, this blatant absence of judgmental right and wrong in much of our political discourse today and the equally insipid amoral outlook of our so-called intelligentsia. As the late American critic Lionel Trilling said, those who assume the august mantle of opinion shapers and intellectuals must have “a moral obligation to be intelligent.”

I was in Tokyo when I read in that country’s largest newspaper, The Yomiuri, Amando Doronila’s analysis of the Aquino-Marcos “family feud” as the major political contest to watch in the incoming administration of Noynoy Aquino. Doronila’s analysis is so shallow, so inept — it is a shame to read it in a major Japanese paper where it could be easily perceived as, perhaps, the valid interpretation of contemporary Filipino politics. Family feud! As if the most important issues in the country are determined by such a narrow, constricted paradigm, by how families — particularly the well-entrenched oligarchic clans — act or do not act. Doronila mentions both the murder of Ninoy Aquino and the people’s EDSA revolution. Did these evolve simply out of family disputes? What Doronila and so many Filipinos incapable of deeper perception cannot see is that underlying our ancient and pervasive political malaise is the moral weakness of our leaders and, alas, of our own people.

As every anthropologist will attest, even the most so-called primitive societies, in the isolation of their caves and jungles, have taboos, rules that they follow with, perhaps, the very young as exceptions until they get initiated into adulthood. In much of the so-called civilized world, for instance, sexual promiscuity is simply not the norm. But in the Trobriand Islands in the Western Pacific, as I found out when I visited there in the ‘60s, when the Trobrianders reach puberty, sexual promiscuity is the practice and the miracle of it all is that pregnancy is extremely rare. But once the islanders get married, fidelity is held so sacred that the penalty for adultery is death.

Maybe the many centuries of colonial yoke contributed to our moral laxity in the sense that we allowed ourselves to be colonized. We may reason that our plight was inescapable; we were so many disparate tribes at war with one another. Isolated and divided, it was easy for the colonizer to force us into submission and exploitation.

We did eventually rebel — a consequence of our moral and intellectual awakening to which the colonialists themselves had inferentially imparted their ideas on ethics, law and order and the democratic ethos. Not that these were totally absent in the native soil; they strengthened what was latently already there and, at the same time, exposed the casuistry of the colonializers themselves in claiming such virtues when, as exploiters, they negated those very virtues by which they plundered.

Let us go back a bit to our own tortured history, to the aborted revolution of 1896. That revolution failed not because of the arrival of the Americans with their superior arms, or due to the impasse that resulted in the Pack of Biak-na-Bato in December 14, 1897. The momentum, the moving spirit of that revolution had flagged, the revolution was emasculated when the rebels accepted the money the Spaniards offered them; the leaders went into exile in Hong Kong with that largesse and were, shortly after, convinced to return to the Philippines, weakened further by American duplicity.

We can see from such historic developments why the revolution did not triumph; it was not so much a lack of intelligence in the leadership that was exploited by the Spaniards or the Americans — it was the paucity of that ethic that is the backbone of a nation, the moral strength of the leaders, disunited and self-seeking. The heirs of Rizal, Bonifacio, Gregorio del Pilar and Mabini saw it was better for them to collaborate with the Americans than to fight them.

So it came to pass that, for so many of us, collaboration with the colonialists — foreign as well as domestic — became politically palatable and acceptable.

When the Japanese came in 1941, collaboration with them would not have been so universally stigmatized had they treated Filipinos kindly. But by April 1942, only four months into the Occupation, the horrors of the Bataan Death March had already afflicted the national consciousness. The Filipinos who collaborated with them were marked. Some were assassinated by the guerrillas. But on the whole, many survived not just the stigma; they were appreciated, some were regarded as heroes, and many of them prospered.

The election of Jose P. Laurel, the puppet president of the Japanese, to the Senate and of other collaborators and the amnesty granted them by President Quirino shortly after the country gained independence from the United States in 1946 resolved politically the collaboration issue.

As a moral problem, however, it rankles the Filipino mind to this very day. Collaboration gnaws at the very heart of a nation; it is the ultimate treason because it seeks justification not so much in its defense of survival, but because it is committed in the name of that nation itself. This is what I meant when I said that the past weighs heavily on all of us for we have not banished the contradictions in our history, contradictions that have obstructed our unity and our striving for justice and freedom.

The victory of the Marcoses in the last election perhaps glosses over for them the horrible injustices that the Marcos dictatorship inflicted on our people. But as a moral issue, it negates the very validation they seek. The crimes of that dictatorship cannot be washed away by votes. A million mea culpas will not exonerate Imelda who was a partner in that dictatorship. But she, with the help of her children, can regain some credibility and, hopefully, even forgiveness from those who suffered under Marcos, by returning the people’s money that they hid abroad, and as elected officials, by performing their mandate honestly and well.

Whether it is religion, Confucianism, Hinduism or whatever, it is the ethical faith of a people that enables them to establish and maintain equally formidable justice systems and inculcate in their people through their institutions and culture the guilt, shame, or whatever core sanctions against crime and anarchy. It must always be remembered that punishment and its pain and stigma inhibit criminality and promote social harmony.

It is these values deeply embedded in officials and anointed power holders that force them to resign or even commit suicide if they are exposed. Japan is not Christian the way we profess we are but its justice system works efficiently. South Korea in the recent past packed off to prison two of its former presidents. When Richard Nixon resigned the US presidency after having been found to have wiretapped the opposition in the Watergate Hotel — that resignation affirmed the moral majesty of the American political system. Contrast this with an Erap, found guilty of plunder by our courts, who is immediately pardoned by a self-seeking and morally hobbled president.

Long, long ago, before the advent of Christ, the ancient Greeks formulated the ideals that would become the basis of politics and government. The philosopher Socrates prescribed the stringent rule that men must be both virtuous and excellent.

We have many excellent Filipinos, some in Congress, in the Judiciary and most of all, in the Executive. As is often our bane if not our curse, the forging of a nation is easily within our skills but we lack the will, the determination. What we often do not recognize is this will, this determination, is connected to the greatest determinant in human endeavor — morality, ethics, or whatever inchoate and ethereal spirit that revs our puny selves to fulfill the truest essence of our own humanity.


Shoeshine lessons
MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated June 27, 2010 12:00 AM

Illustration by REY RIVERA

I’m 10 years old and I’m in my dad’s dressing room. I’m sitting on the floor shining 20 pairs of my father’s shoes. My father has a shoe fetish. He claims that it was the result of his wanting new shoes, which my grandfather couldn’t afford, for his high school graduation. (My mother disputes this tale as my father’s lame attempt to instill values but, as a child, I believed him.) So, after his bout with shoe poverty, he is now the proud owner of some of the world’s best and most expensive shoes. (His favorite brand was Bally.)

That was 1980 — my job was to keep all of my dad’s shoes bright and shiny. It was a job I relished because it was our time — a luxury when you have eight siblings — and the opportunity for him to pass on life lessons through the experience of shining shoes. These were some of his best pieces of advice, delivered wearing a ratty white undershirt and ugly shorts (the de rigueur pang-bahay or house clothes) of fathers in the Eighties):

1. Strive for excellence, even if it’s something as simple as shining shoes. Maybe it was because of his Islamic upbringing — the Koran preached excellence in all things — but my father hated half-hearted work. When you do something, do it well, even something as mundane as shining shoes. There was a technique and logic to it — remove the dust first with a brush or soft cloth; choose the proper color of shoe polish; don’t put too much, especially with the liquid waxes, because it will over stain and destroy the leather; only buff the shoes, using a top-quality horse hairbrush, when they are completely dry; shine even the parts that people will not see, because although they won’t know that you missed a spot, you will know that you didn’t complete the job. As a matter of fact, my father explained to me that the very best shoes were painstakingly handcrafted and it was the shoemaker’s meticulous care and desire for making something both utilitarian and beautiful that enabled him to make such wonderful shoes.

2. Look your best. Either vanity is a learned behavior or it’s genetic. I don’t know but my own vanity, in the sense that I don’t like going even to the supermarket unless I look decent, seems to be a result of both. My father would constantly remind me about the value of looking neat, clean, and at your best. It was just as much about respecting others as it was about respecting yourself. A gentleman — or boy — should look good. Period. He told me that you can tell a lot about a person’s character — if he’s a slob or not, what his hobbies are, and if he cares about fashion, etc. — by just looking at his shoes. This was why we were taking pains to shine my father’s shoe collection: so he could always put his best foot forward.

3. You have to work harder than others because you are a minority. This may seem far removed from shining shoes but it isn’t. I think part of the reason why my father made such an effort to always look dapper was because he was actually quite insecure. He grew up in a society where Filipino Muslims faced discrimination and stereotyping — our current culture still has aspects of this — and so one method of overcoming this was to work hard and excel. Achievement, whether in politics, education, arts, etc., earns respect. It may be given grudgingly but it is given nonetheless. Since winning levels the playing field, my father said that we should act and look like a winner — and the first step was to have clean, well-shined shoes.

4. You got to have fire in your belly. Initiative was one characteristic my father valued and one of his lessons was that I should not have to wait for him to remind me to shine his shoes. I should remember to do it every week. What it really meant was don’t wait for others to push you to do what has to be done. Just do it. And initiative included appearance. He wanted me to look like I enjoyed my job. Meaning that part of initiative was doing things with zest because without enthusiasm, the results would be substandard.

5. A little luxury isn’t bad. My father would explain to me that, since he studied well and worked hard, he deserved a few luxuries — like having nice shoes. In fact, for him, his shoes were an affirmation that he had achieved some level of success. So now, as an adult who also works very hard and has studied well, I allow myself my luxuries. Perhaps, more importantly, I allow myself to take pleasure — actually it is really more a sense of gratefulness — in being able to buy things I like.

So now, every time I see a pair of beautifully shined men’s shoes, I cannot help but remember my father and the lessons he imparted. Strangely, I never inherited his desire for expensive shoes. For me cleanliness (because of my shoeshining experience) and style — not price or brand — are what I look for in a pair of shoes.

In hindsight, a lot of my own success was due to his lessons. And as I go through life, I see that shining his shoes has served me in very good stead. And my shoes always look brilliant.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How my autistic son taught me fatherhood

How my autistic son taught me fatherhood
MANO-A-MANO By Adel Tamano (The Philippine Star) Updated June 20, 2010 12:00 AM

Most Sundays, you will see me and my family at the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell — we’re the family hanging out by the fountain outside Zara. That’s my eldest son’s favorite spot. Santi has autism and like a lot of children with his condition, he is mesmerized by the running water.

Today we celebrate fatherhood and fathers all over the world are showered with gifts and taken to their favorite restaurants for being wonderful dads. I certainly appreciate all of these gestures but as the world says “thank you” to fathers, I will give thanks to my son for I believe that whatever I am as a father — if I have been a good one at all — can be attributed to Santi. Every day he teaches me the real meaning of fatherhood.

If you see my son, you’ll think he’s like any normal seven-year-old. But really, he isn’t. To begin with, he will not converse with you; sometimes he will jump around or flap his arms for no apparent reason; he will likely throw a tantrum if a schedule or pattern he’s used to is not followed; he gets agitated when we take detours to the mall. However, despite his condition, he is happy and healthy. He is thriving in school, not only because of an excellent teaching and caring environment, but also due to the fact that because he has a great team of therapists, doctors, teachers, yayas, and professionals supporting him.

It is because he isn’t a typical child that I have been forced to find the real meaning of fatherhood. I am like most men. I had typical father-and-son dreams of teaching Santi basketball (or in my case, volleyball), having him attend my alma mater, even just sharing jokes (eventually teaching him my favorite green ones when he is old enough), and watching movies together. But all these dreams were shattered when we found out that Santi had autism. An autistic child relates very differently from a typical child. So you throw all your preconceptions and expectations out the window. This means you will have to learn new skills and values in order to raise and live with an autistic child.

So on a mundane level, this means that when you eat out, you learn to put your preferences on hold, because Santi generally only eats fried chicken, which drastically limits the places you can go to (our thanks to all the restaurants that allow us to bring in Chicken McDo!) You learn how not to care if people are staring at you, sometimes even glaring at you, when your son is throwing a major tantrum in the middle of a mall. You learn how to give up a lot of personal luxuries in order to afford the therapies and treatments for your son. In the end, you learn patience, sacrifice, and acceptance. In short, you learn how to truly love your child; how to be a real father. This is not to say that fathers with typical children are not real fathers — I love and adore our other son, Mike — but the challenges, the frustrations, the worries are tenfold with Santi.

I have met fathers who feel differently about their autistic or special children — fathers who feel angry, ashamed, or embarrassed. They are surprised to hear our family talking candidly about Santi’s condition. They feel that their child is mostly a burden and they are weighed down by the challenges and costs of raising their child. Specialists refer to this as the Kubler-Ross stages of grief at having an autistic child — denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We all deal with grief in our own ways and it is but natural to grieve, not so much at having an autistic child, but rather to grieve for the “normal child,” and the “normal” father-son relationship, that you will never have. Raising an autistic child is daunting and sometimes overwhelming. However, getting stuck at any of the stages prior to acceptance only hurts both the father and the child. Firstly, anger or depression will not change the fact that the child has autism. You cannot wish or fight the condition away. Secondly, while you will never have a typical father-son relationship, you can still have a fruitful and rich relationship with your child.

Santi has also strengthened my faith.

Another area in my life that has improved — and I believe this has made me a better father — is my faith. I don’t think that I would have been able to handle and accept his condition if it were not for my Islamic faith. One of my favorite verses from the Koran, the Muslim holy book, says that God does not put more burdens on a person than he can bear, so, by having Santi, I knew that I had what it took to be a father to my child and that I could face the challenges of his autism. In regard to the expense and costs, a particularly gruesome aspect of Islamic history was insightful for me: in pre-Islamic Arabia, families who had too many children would sometimes leave newborn babies, particularly female children, in the desert to perish. One of the humane innovations brought by Islam to Arabian society then was the prohibition of this atrocious practice. The Koran states “(k)ill not your children for fear of want: We shall provide sustenance for them as well as for you. Verily the killing of them is a great sin.” Of course, I would never even contemplate killing a child but the point is that God will provide for our children’s, particularly our autistic children’s, needs.

Finally, Santi is a joy to me. Fatherhood, should be, at its heart, a joyful experience. Last Christmas, in his school program, Santi danced with his class! To most parents that would be most ordinary, perhaps even a little boring, but for my wife and I, it was the best Christmas gift that we had ever received as a family. Seeing our son healthy, thriving and coping with school was an answer to our prayers and the happiness we felt at that moment more than made up for the years of personal sacrifice, expense, and worry that we had undergone as parents. I know that I, Weena, Santi and Mike have many more years of dealing with the challenges of autism but I’m actually looking forward to it. Santi has not only taught me to be a real father but he has also given us the ultimate blessing — he has made us into a true family

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I ran for the Senate and lost. It was a painful, heartbreaking experience. But it taught me a lot of things. Particularly about how you can lose and still strive to be a gentleman. What is a gentleman? Well, being a gentleman is not about breeding (haven’t we all seen too many well-bred jerks), wealth (some of my most financially-challenged friends are the epitomes of gentlemanliness), or manners (although real gentlemen should have good manners). Essentially, being a gentleman is doing what is right. So a gentleman acts with honesty, integrity, and graciousness. This means defining and being a gentleman is both difficult and simple at the same time. And although we all falter sometimes, being one is an aspiration that we all should struggle towards. For an aspiring gentleman like myself, this is how a gentleman loses an election –
1. A gentleman does not make excuses for his loss. Please don’t become a cliché. “No, I didn’t lose, I was cheated!” Only FPJ - and if your last name is Pimentel - had the right to say that. Almost all other politicians who have used this line were simply not gracious enough to accept their defeat with dignity. Sure, learn your lessons from your failure and understand why you didn’t make it. But don’t blame it on cheating, lack of money, or the immature electorate. Not only is giving excuses not the classy thing to do, it is, more importantly, mentally dishonest because you knew the dangers of running for public office from the very beginning.

2. A gentleman says thank you. Yes you lost but remember that a lot of people helped you during the campaign. Thank them. Especially your supporters who may even feel the loss worse than you do. Gratitude during the worst of times is a badge of great character and will remind the people who have helped you that they weren’t wrong in giving you their support.

3. A gentleman is not afraid to cry. Losing sucks. No amount of rationalization will change the painful fact that despite your effort, good intentions, and sacrifice, the voters still did not choose you. What’s important – whether you shed actual tears or not – is that you fully accept your loss, mourn it properly, gain some wisdom, and then move forward. Hopefully, onto better things.

4. A gentleman will support the winners. You may feel that you are brighter, more honest, and better qualified than the victor and it may be even true. However, the fact is that he was chosen by the voters and you weren’t. Since he was given the mandate to govern, as a good citizen, you must cooperate with our elected leaders to help our country succeed. A sense of statesmanship dictates setting aside your personal feelings towards your political opponents for the greater good. Of course, the alternative is to work to undermine the next administration. That is the way of the “trapo” or traditional/transactional politician who views politics not as public service but simply as a power game. Let us make one thing clear: Gentlemen are not trapos and trapos – no matter how rich, well-bred, connected, or educated – will never be gentlemen. On a personal level, while I didn’t vote for the President-elect, at the end of the day, he is as much my president as he is for those who voted and campaigned for him. So if I can do something in my own capacity to help his administration succeed, then I shouldn’t hesitate to do it.

5. A gentleman keeps his promises. Candidates will promise the moon and stars to the voters. After the elections, they get a chronic case of selective amnesia. A promise is a promise and just because you lost doesn’t mean that your advocacies or the help that you promised your potential constituents doesn’t count anymore. Keep your pledges and, whether or not you do decide to run again, people will appreciate you as a man of his word.

6. A gentleman, if he stumbles, gets back on his feet quickly. Finally, don’t let your electoral loss be your excuse to become an alcoholic, neglect your business or your profession, or abandon your family. Your losing an election does not mean that you are, therefore, a loser forever; so don’t act like one. The world does not stop turning because of your personal defeats. Pick yourself up and move forward. Remember, even the most hyper-competitive and successful athlete of all time, Michael Jordan, had to wait seven long years in the NBA before he finally got his NBA Championship. He didn’t let his years of failure destroy him. Instead, he used them as motivation and fuel to become perhaps the best to ever play the game of basketball. That, in fact, is the best lesson there is for anyone going through some life-failure: that losing may even be the best thing for you, if you use it to your advantage to grow, learn, and act with graciousness and integrity. And you know what they eventually call people who genuinely learn from their failures and mistakes: winners.

Friday, June 11, 2010


I'm going to brag, carry my own "bangko", and be "mayabang" right now, so please forgive me: One of the good things I did as President of the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila was to turn our old, decrepit, dirty, cockroach and rat infested, and expensive canteen into a modern, clean, air-conditioned, and affordable canteen. It was the pride of the school. Our students and teachers would even invite their friends to dine in the canteen just to show it off. I worked very hard to change an eyesore of a canteen to a place of pride where our students and employees could relaz, study, enjoy the airconditioning and socialize. Unfortunately, according to this text message I just received, this is the state of our canteen now -

"It is sad to know that students with their own baon, are no longer allowed to eat in the canteen, if seen eating(,) they are forced to leave their tables, dinuduro duro, hinahampas ang mesa ng patpat, (at) sinisigawan ang students."

This never would have happened when I was President. Firstly, since I would regularly inspect the grounds of the university, the staff and employees would usually be on their best behavior. Secondly, I have always felt that schools exist for students. They are the raison d'etre for a university's very being. So the guiding principle for any school is the welfare of the students. So when you disrespect students, you violate the very foundation of for having a school. This is why our policies were always, in a sense, pro-student or progressive in favor of student rights.

Unfortunately, and I hope this is not true, but it seems the student-oriented policies have quickly changed. In fact, a faculty member tweeted me about how the new concessionaire was maltreating the students, stating a situation similar to the text message I received.

What's happening to our beloved university? How can we teach our students the value of respect and dignity when we treat them like crap? I'm very angry about this and I hope that this isn't true. I will call the Executive Vice President and the other officials about this so something can be done to remedy this situation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


Thank you to everyone who tweeted and sent comments to my blog suggesting a title for my new column at the Philippine Star's Lifestyle Section. The title I've chosen - drumroll please - is "Mano-a-mano." Not only does the title refer to my surname but it also evokes the personal, hard-hitting, and direct - no intermediaries - direction that I want my column to have. Like my blog, my column will be a no spin i.e. "bola-free" zone. My first article will be published on Sunday!

Monday, June 7, 2010


I love vampire movies and books. I watched the Bela Lugosi version of Dracula about ten times. I've read all the Sookie Stackhouse novels, save for the latest one which is not yet available at Powerbooks. But I just can't get Twilight. Now, after seeing this clip, I am enlightened.

Thursday, June 3, 2010


I'm going to write a weekly column for the Philippine Star's Lifestyle section, For Men. It will be coming out every Wednesday and will, naturally, focus on issues that impact on or are of interest to those of us who have a Y-chromosome. Need ing a catchy title, I sent a tweet for some suggestions and here are some of what I got -

1. "Mandate"
2. "A-Men"
3. "Mano Ta Mano" - About five people suggested this
4. "Legally Stylish"
5. "Delta Man"
6. "Whattaman"
7. "Man About Town"

Great suggestions. If you have any other ideas or if you particularly like one of the suggestions, post a comment here. Or send me a tweet.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

F. Sionil Jose's Open Letter to Noynoy

My wife, Weena, wise woman that she is, emailed me F. Sionil Jose's open letter to Noynoy. I very much appreciate the letter's frank and candid tone. It does not pander. Yet, at the same time, it remains hopeful, giving President-elect Aquino the benefit of the doubt and encouraging him to "redeem (his) father's aborted promise."

Like Mr. Jose, I did not vote for President-elect Aquino but since he obtained the highest number of votes, he is MY President as well. And I want him and his administration to succeed. I believe that after the heat of the electoral battle has subsided, the next step should be for all Filipinos, regardless of party affiliations, to work together to address the great challenges of poverty and corruption.
Moreover, in the long run, the success of the Aquino administration will benefit all of us.

So best of luck to you Noy, you have my prayers and like Mr. Jose, I expect much from you.

An open letter to Noynoy
HINDSIGHT By F Sionil Jose (The Philippine Star) Updated May 23, 2010 12:00 AM

Dear Noynoy,

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”

I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.

From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.

And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose