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Dear Madame GMA, (Part I)

So much has happened since I visited you at St. Luke's Thursday night last week, the eve of your arrest. My heart breaks each time I'm reminded of the promising leader you were when you were starting out. With a brilliant mind, a superhuman work ethic, the pedigree, education, sterling credentials, and probably having the best of intentions-you could've easily become the very best president this country has ever had. But after nine years of pragmatic rule, you are regarded by many as the worst we've had by far. That is their opinion anyway, it isn't necessarily a fact.

 All this could very well be your own doing. Had you used your legendary temper to police your ranks and demanded they toe the line, this could've all been averted, and Filipinos would be cheering you by now for your achievements: several quarters of uninterrupted economic growth; a strong Peso and high GDP while the rest of the world fumbled and stumbled during the meltdown; an impressive infrastructure program that bridged the islands and facilitated a more efficient means of transporting goods, spurring economic activity in the regions; and many more. Had you been a little more idealistic and a little less pragmatic in your ways, a 'vindictive' successor would have had trouble pinning you down.

 Then again, who am I to say? So forgive me for sounding and feeling so perfect. I have not tried being president yet, and until I do, I may never fully grasp what getting there and staying there fully entails. This might be the realist side of me giving you the benefit of the doubt but really, no one alive today, apart from the three other living presidents, know exactly how it is to be president in the Philippines. Perhaps being president doesn't make one the most powerful person after all; on the contrary, the most fragile, forcing whoever becomes one to look the other way many times over and, in a sense, choose one's battles (surely the winning formula for political survival in this country where patronage politics is deeply entrenched).

 I recognize how you are the ultimate pragmatist, a political animal that would make Machiavelli so proud, and while I don't subscribe to your brand of politics, I have come to understand why for you, "the end will always justify the means" (much like how De Lima operates). I remember how my idealism was injured when you replaced me after I voiced my concern for the issues and controversies that plagued the youth commission. I was only doing my sworn duty, Ma'am, but you replaced me.

 But no hard feelings. After all, you gave me the opportunity to serve in government and you took a chance in me and believed I could make a difference. I merely submitted my application and portfolio for that job, I didn't expect I'd top the shortlist of the search committee and be appointed by you. Without politician parents, I'd like to believe it was a triumph of process and merit, and it happened during your time. 

 And months after replacing me, calling me to the Palace to clear the air and explain your side, I appreciate that. I was a bum then, with neither millions to give you nor politician parents with an impeachment vote to trade, but you gave me a good hour of your precious time and engaged me in conversation like a co-equal. You were sincere and I could feel it.

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 So I will always respect you, not just because you gave me my first break, but because you always respected my choices and understood my idealism. "Because you're very idealistic," I always recall you telling me. When you found out I supported President Aquino in the last elections, after a momentary frown on your face, you quickly gave me your nod of approval as soon as I finished explaining the rationale of my vote. You never really took offense when we disagreed on something. I remember the late secretary Cerge Remonde being so amused watching us debate on hard sell (your way) versus soft sell (my style) at your private office in Malacañang-an openness and objectivity I experienced firsthand, a far cry from the 'source of all evil' image you have today.

 Now we're in the topic of images, I can't believe how some Pinoys make a fool of themselves declaring with so much certainty that you're faking your illness, like they're so sure, buying all the speculation they hear in media hook, line, and sinker.

 Between you and me, they couldn't be bigger morons. You may be guilty of many things, but darn it, you're sick! It may not be life-threatening just yet but I could tell if someone's sick and I saw you for myself, and you're definitely it. Like your husband's weird lawyer, I'm also willing to bet my balls on it (though honestly, it wouldn't be of much use to me; as you may well know, I am openly gay). 

 Anyhow, let's leave it at this for now; I'd like to play with my newly born niece, Arabella, she who is just the cutest. I'll write you another letter same time next week. I really hope you get better.

Your youngest appointee once upon a time,

Mike Lopez

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