At the outset, let me do what my fellow opinion writer Cito Beltran did in his previous column: To issue a disclaimer. Before anything else, this column’s topic for today is in no way an endorsement of any specific candidates who are running in the coming national elections in May.
At this stage, it’s really too early to make up one’s mind on who to vote for from among the 10 presidential candidates, unless, one happens to be a loyal follower or a rabid supporter of a particular presidential bet. Nonetheless, let me just share with you certain observations and facts about some of them.
If you hadn’t noticed it yet, former Defense Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. is lately the most visible presidential candidate that one sees on the road. Reason: You can see Gibo’s life size photo dressed in his campaign green polo shirt. It comes with his campaign slogan: Talino at Galing, Posible printed in big, bold letters at the back of public utility buses plying Baclaran, EDSA, and other busy roads in Metro Manila. There may be provincial buses also bearing the campaign billboard of Gibo but I don’t know that for a fact.
Gibo’s campaign signs plastered on moving buses have apparently paid off, that another candidate found it effective, too. Senate president Juan Ponce-Enrile, who is up for re-election, followed Gibo’s bus campaign. Enrile also has a life size photo plastered at the back of several buses.
Initially, I thought it was an advertisement billboard that has Enrile as endorser of a cellular phone that he holds in his right hand. It dawned on me it was a campaign billboard as it bore Enrile’s slogan: Sipag at Talino ng Senado. Enrile’s slogan sounds similar with the Sipag at Tiyaga campaign blurb of Sen. Manny Villar who is using this battle cry for his own presidential bid.
Ironically, it was Villar who first likened the qualifications for those aspiring for the presidency to an “experienced bus driver.” Villar cited that the presidency is not an on-the-job training. It requires an experienced leader like a bus driver who must go through smooth roads and rough and perilous routes but he is still able to bring his passengers to their common desired destination — safe and sound.
The funny thing, though, is that it was Gibo, not Villar, who is using the buses as moving vehicle to carry his presidential campaign across. And mind you, Gibo has added a new vehicle to carry his presidential campaign literally to new heights.
Gibo’s camp has started airing his latest infomercial that highlights his being a certified pilot. A huge Boeing 747 stood in the background and bore a side marking of his name “Gibo” printed in green. He spoke that if anyone wants to be a flight captain, he must set his own direction and know where he is going. One must be steadfast and should not be sucked in by strong winds but must use his own Galing at Talino to steer the aircraft out of turbulence. Like a plane, Gibo pointed out, our people would like our country to soar high. “Ready for take-off na tayo. Ito si Gibo Teodoro… Subok na piloto! Forever Filipino. Handang lumipad kasama n’yo. Tara!” Gibo enjoins the audience in the extro of his infomercial while on board the plane’s cockpit.
Unknown to many, Gibo is a licensed commercial pilot and a reserve colonel of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). From background materials about the man, Gibo has a Learjet 31 rating under his name as a licensed commercial pilot. He told me he has logged a couple of thousand flying hours.
The 45-year old Gibo can actually steer and fly PAF’s ageing fleet of C-130 cargo planes. He once served as a lecturer at the PAF’s Air Command Staff College, and has received numerous awards and commendations for his aeronautical skills.
Gibo is not an ordinary pilot. He has received several awards that include the Basic RASS Aeronautic Badge; an Honorary Command Pilot in September 2000; and was conferred the Presidential Flight Crew Badge by the 250 Presidential Airlift Wing of the PAF in August 2002.
Becoming a commercial pilot is no easy task. One has to log in a lot of flying time and learn a new set of highly specialized knowledge and skills, especially on computer system. Practically, computers run our modern aircraft now. But still, it is the pilot who would steer the aircraft to fly his crew and passengers to the set destination safely from take-off to landing.
Thus, a pilot must have good eyesight, or 20-20 vision. This is not to mention he or she must be both physically and mentally fit for the tough task of flying a plane. At least, that is what I’ve gathered from the many inquiries I’ve been making because one of my twin sons has a childhood dream to become a pilot.
But as Gibo aptly said in his infomercial, one must not only dream but must take action, strive hard, and take the initiative to turn one’s dream into reality. “I believe that the Philippines has long been ready for takeoff. But we cannot take off as a nation if we just dream about it,” Gibo urged.
Like a Learjet, the Philippines needs a highly skilled pilot to steer it toward the path of steady progress and global competitiveness. But he points out that to make the Philippines soar to greater heights, its leader should be a person of action and not just words, and should have the capability and determination to unite the nation.
While he may be the Arroyo administration’s presidential standard-bearer — or perhaps because of it — Gibo has been trailing in the presidential race based on mock polls and surveys. This is the natural consequence of Gibo’s having entered the presidential race a bit too late compared to his rivals who have been into campaign mode way, way ahead of him.
The survey results, however, have not obviously disheartened the Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential candidate. In fact, I think this has sort of served as a challenge for Gibo to work harder to make himself known to the greater number of our voters through his latest infomercials now being aired on TV.
But first things first: Gibo’s Lakas-Kampi-CMD partymates and political allies must help make sure the candidacy of their presidential standard bearer must take off now, not later.