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On the Radar

Why PNoy was funny as he was inspiring

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda - Philstar.com
Noynoy Aquino at EDSA anniversary
In this Feb. 25, 2017 photo, former president Benigno Aquino (2R) poses with a supporter as he attends the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution at the People Power Monument in Manila.
AFP/Noel Celis, file

From 1998 to 2016, Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III took on public service as his career, highlighted by his ascent to presidency in the last six years of that period. Approaching that span, Noynoy was already and popularly a simple, down-to-earth man. He would bring this humility and kindness combo with him even as “PNoy.” This then became his forever trademark to his family, friends, and staff. It was something I myself was fortunate enough to appreciate as one of the journalists assigned to cover him and the Office of the President.

In all those years, I have also developed friendships with those same people close to PNoy. I recently reconnected with these similarly kindhearted individuals, in remembrance of their leader they also called friend.

Through a special two-part series (part 1) of our online show, “Pamilya Talk,” (part 2) PNoy’s closest friends all reminisced about what made him great, both, as a boss and a human being. Allow me to share bits of our heartwarming exchange here, a conversation that had “simpleng tao” as the most common way to describe the departed president. Beyond that, read on for an “exposé” of the weirdest and most interesting revelations about PNoy that would only leave the guests’ faces smiling and their hearts longing.

“Remembering Noynoy,” on the other hand, is part of my personal project as a simple tribute to our former president. It’s viewable on my Facebook (fb.com/TitaJingCastaneda) and YouTube (youtube.com.JingCastaneda) accounts. Do check it out and find out more intriguing trivia, including the fact that there was a time PNoy almost got married!

Romy Mercado,
PNoy’s best friend:

“Pagka-gusto nya mag-unwind, tatawag sya.  Sa gabi na ito, mga 8pm, pag tapos na ang araw niya. Kakain kami. Kung saan malapit lang sa Palasyo. Minsan, twice a week.

Life Savers yung favorite candy brand nya. Bilin nya lagi sa wife ko, kay Margie, pag papunta kami sa Amerika. ‘Saka yung kanyang  seasoning, lagi rin syang nagpapabili nun na gustong gusto nyang nilalagay sa kahit anong ulam o kanin. Siya rin lang ang alam ko na pati yung lasa ng softdrink na Coke, ‘pag nasa labas kami ng Pilipinas, sasabihin nya, ‘Iba ang lasa dito. Sa Malaysia, iba. Sa Thailand, iba.’ So minsan gusto nyang nagdadala (ng Coke na binili sa Pilipinas), kahit ilang lata lang. Yun pang isang favorite niya, yung Heinz 57 na ketchup niya.

Mahilig siyang magpasaya ng tao, so ‘pag hindi niya mapasaya, kikilitiin ka niya—pati staff nya! Gusto lang niyang nakikitang masaya ang mga tao.

What I admire most about him? Noy’s love for country. I saw that even from way, way back. Lalo na nung naging politician na siya, talagang dinidbdib nya yun.

He always loved his family and mentioned how he’d take care of them—always the four sisters. Yung kanyang malasakit, pagmamahal sa kanila—he would always think of them.

And also the way he loved his friends—maybe that’s the one thing that ako, I would treasure most. Plus the way he cared for us including our own families.”

Jiggy Cruz,
Ballsy Aquino-Cruz’ son and PNoy’s nephew:

“He liked making things light. Naalala ko, may isang candy from Japan na sobrang asim, ‘tapos biglang tatamis siya as you kept consuming it. So, parang tsi-na-challenge niya kami ni Miguel (Abellada). One time, sabi niya, ‘Oh, yung hindi dudura nung candy, may prize! So yun, yung mga ginagawa namin as kids.

‘Tapos mahilig talaga siyang magpakain. Kunwari, Sunday afternoon sa Times St. Nung mga bata pa kami, manlilibre na lang bigla yan. Oh, he called me Justin, so, ‘Justin, Tropical Hut!’ Yung classic burger talaga ang favorite niya. Mag-o-order siya for everyone. Simpleng tao talaga.

I admire how he became protective of his family. Kunwari, wala yung parents namin and kahit hindi ibilin ng mom ko na, ‘Noy, look out for the kids,’ he’d always check up on us about everything. ‘Okay pa ba kayo?’ Mga ganyan. He will not show it pero if his family needs help, he would always be there. Kahit anong mangyari. Siyempre, country first pero he’ll always prioritize family after that.

I also admire his simplicity. If my Lola was the simplest woman, Tito Noy siguro yung simplest man. Walang luho and simple lang talaga yung kaligayahan nya. Masaya na sya sa regular Coke at chicharon.”

Kim Henares,
Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) Commissioner during PNoy’s term and target shooting buddy

“He had a favorite Korean restaurant. One day, he wanted to go and eat dinner there. When his advance team went there, there were all these streamers that said, ‘This restaurant is closed by the BIR.’ His advance didn’t know what to tell him. They just took a picture (of the streamers) and sent it to him. I don’t know if he was joking, but he just sent me a message to tell me then that I should learn how to cook Korean food! Sabi ko naman, ‘Hayaan nyo. Mag-aaral akong magluto ng Korean food!’

PNoy had a sincere and deep concern for his people. I think that’s what we are all missing. That’s one good thing he was a very good example of. And now that he’s not here, maybe we can learn from that.

The other thing, that man was very clear with what’s right and wrong. He was very principled and he would do what he thought was right, whether it was unpopular or not. It was very clear to him that he was there, holding all these money and trust for the Filipino people. And that he shouldn’t waste any single centavo. If we were to spend something, make sure that it goes a long, long way. If there are many alternatives, we should choose the alternative the would give the biggest benefit to the Filipino people.”

Ali Sangalang,
PNoy’s speechwriter:

“Nag-start ako kay Sir nang 23 years old. Yung age group ng speechwriters nya from 21 to 29 years old lang. Yung magandang legacy ni Sir sa ‘kin ay yung pagsasalita niya at pagsusulat in FIlipino. Nung panahong yun, naghahanap talaga siya ng young Filipino writers. Specific talaga to Filipino—Tagalog! Nagkataon naman na marunong akong magsulat in Filipino. Kaya rin ako nandun dahil binigyan kami ng opportunity ng opisina at ultimately ni Sir PNoy—na pagbigyan yung mga bata na maging parte ng team nya. Napagbigyan kaming makapag-ambag at magamit yung talent at energy namin.

Magugulat kayo na lahat ng speeches niya dumadaan sa kanya. Lahat! Nilalapit namin sa kanya ang speaking engagements niya at nagbibigay sya ng inputs niya kada isa. Tapos isusulat namin. Tapos dadaanan niya ulit yun bago sumalang. Minsan nandun nasa convoy na, may corrections pa!

So, kailangan talaga magaling kami sa biyahilo! Nasa van kami na rumaragasa, o nasa eroplano o helicopter kami, so sanay kaming mag-edit kung saan man.

Yung pinakamatinding experience namin, nasa France kami sa harap ng business groups. Nag-yosi sya saglit sa labas ‘tapos pinatawag kami. May pina-edit na isang chunk sa speech. Ang naging deadline namin: Pagkaubos ng isang yosi nya!”

Jo Anne Haber,
member of PNoy’s presidential management staff:

“Lagi nyang sinasabi sa kin, ‘Jo, hindi pwedeng basta lang. Hindi pwedeng pwede na. Kailangang ibuhos mo lahat ng makakaya mo, lahat ng nalalaman mo’t kaya mong ibigay. At masasabi mo sa sarili mo na, ‘Nagawa ko yung parte ko.’ Kung kulang man, babawi ka nalang sa susunod, kasi nobody’s perfect naman talaga.’

Tinuro niya sa ‘kin yung value system. Malinaw na may mali at may tama. Kasi kung hindi ganoong kaklaro yun sa yo, madali kang maimpluwensyahan. Yung value system nyo yung magiging guiding light nyo sa bawat aksyon, sa bawat desisyon para makagawa ng tama.

Lagi niyang sinasabi sa kin, ‘Lahat may magagawa. May ambag ka! Hindi ka maliit. Kahit ano ang posisyon mo sa bureaucracy or sa hierarchy ladder, meron kang ma-ko-contribute. Lagi ko tong dinadala sa lahat ng opising pinagtrabahuan ko after him. Yun yung mga bitbit kong mga aral galing sa kanya.”

 

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Please watch Pamilya Talk on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 5:30-7:00pm Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday). Please share your stories or suggest topics at [email protected] You can also follow and send your comments via my social media accounts: InstagramFacebookYouTubeTwitter  and Kumu.

 

BALLSY CRUZ

BENIGNO AQUINO III

JIGGY CRUZ

KIM HENARES

NOYNOY AQUINO

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