Demythologizing Jack Enrile
FROM THE STANDS - Domini M. Torrevillas () - December 1, 2011 - 12:00am

In the ’70s, the public had the impression that Jackie Enrile, son of one of the most powerful government officials before and during martial law, now Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, was a spoiled brat who was once suspected of having his bodyguards shoot down a guy who stared at him in a nightclub. Last week, my circle of women in media had lunch with him, and the result was the destruction of the myth surrounding his person.

Jack, 53, as he wants to be called, is now a congressman representing the 1st district of Cagayan, Region II. He was disarmingly good-looking, tall and big-bodied and displayed a good sense of humor during lunch at Petra and Pilar, a restaurant in Makati owned by his sister Katrina. He said he had gotten into many fights in his life, but of the sins he had committed, killing was not one of them. He made a turnaround in 1984, when a missionary named Jerry Osborne sought him out during a shooting tournament in Bacolod and told him about how empty Jack’s life was without Jesus Christ. Jack listened, was convinced, and accepted Christ, and although he deviates sometimes from the strait and narrow path, he is a different person, a devoted husband and father to two children (he has two others in failed early marriage) and grandpa to one. His wife runs a greeting card business. She took up psychology at Assumption, and criminal justice at Boston University.

Jack is president and CEO of JAKA Investments Corporation and JAKA Group of Companies, whose interests include real estate development, food and construction.

Jack was elected representative three times (1998-2007), rested from 2007 to 2010, during which time his wife, Sally, served as representative. In 2010, he ran and was again elected for a fourth term. His sights are undoubtedly trained on the 2013 senatorial election.

He is the principal author of the Anti-trust Bill (HN 549), Food for Filipinos First (HN 4626), Increasing the Allowable Personal and Additional Deductions of Individual taxpayers (HN 550), and Credit Card Reform Measure (HN 4819). He is also principal author of HB 553, the Magna Carta for Domestic Workers, or Kasambahay, now pending in the House of Representatives, whose endorsement he is urging the Department of Labor and Employment to expedite as an international treaty promotes the protection of domestic workers.

He confessed that his father never supported him financially probably because at a young age he was already making big money by exporting already cut logs to Taiwan. His being an Enrile will, he admits, win him votes in the senatorial race.

As to the father-and-son relationship, Jack, whose real name is Juan Alfonso Carmelo Enrile Jr., said they’re both strong-willed and determined. “My dad says he is a poor judge of character because he’d like his ego to be massaged,” he said with a big grin. He himself is a free spirit, doing what he wants to do with his life. On his own, he went to the US, sporting long hair and riding his Hurley and working on mean jobs, including as a gasoline boy. Even as a young boy and student at Ateneo de Manila, he loved to read such authors as Faulkner and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and his thesis for his bachelor of arts at Christian Heritage College in California in 1993 was on Mark Twain. For his master’s in business administration, he went to Pepperdine University, also in California. When he returned to the Philippines, his father asked him to run for Congress. “In December 1997, Dad was with ten men in a room, and when I entered the room, he introduced me as the next congressman of District 1.” Jack was surprised, but he followed his father, and won, because “people liked my honesty.”

Jack needs to be convinced about voting for the Reproductive Health bill. He seems to be of the old school, which believes in the practicality of having many children tend the land. Government, he said, should help in the development of rural areas and agriculture. He became interested in agriculture when a farmer approached him and asked that farmers be given more attention, incentives and support. He said 57 percent of the world population are engaged in agriculture, and food prices have gone up since the 2008 recession, which call for government intervention. When he is in the Senate, he will focus on agricultural concerns.

He is challenging President Aquino “to substantiate his commitment before other world leaders to promote open government by aggressively pushing for the passage of the long-delayed Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. He said that while the Philippine government’s participation in the launching of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) in New York last September was laudable, President Aquino should walk his talk in promoting open governance. Freedom of information is a basic component in an open government and is necessary in concretizing the country’s commitment to the OGP.”

Jack divides his time between his work as a legislator and his family. “I’m trying to raise my son to be gentlemanly,” he said. “My wife is very meticulous about raising our kids to be good persons.” The family attends Union Church of Manila and Christian Church Community.

A good family man makes a good leader, don’t you agree?

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We met a very interesting young man at a dinner hosted by Sen. Loren Legarda in her home in Forbes Park last week. The honoree was Anton Alvarez III, whose father owns Alvarez & Marsal, and whose European operation Anton manages. The company is into advisory consultancy employing thousands of people around the world. The world recession has not affected the corporation’s business as people appreciate its services in tax advisory business consulting, litigation, finance, and restructuring.

But more than business matters, Anton, who is a graduate of Notre Dame University and Cornell University, came to Manila upon invitation of the famous painter Doris Magsaysay-Ho, and to promote his second single titled, “Kung Sana,” under the auspices of recording magnate Vic del Rosario. Anton liked to sing since he was a child, but discovered he did have talent for singing. His first single was “Wish,” with Sarah Geronimo (who came to the dinner). Anton does some singing at special concerts in Europe, along with a London-based band called Urban Society. Anton could become a singing sensation and movie actor with his good looks and pleasant manner.

Anton’s mother, Gail Alvarez, and Rona Sih were at the dinner, too. They co-chair a foundation called PhilDev, which raises funds for the benefit of science, technology and engineering institutions in the Philippines. Recently, PhilDev sponsored a talent show at the Lincoln Center in New York with Lea Salonga as guest singer, and gave an award of recognition to Filipino artist Bobby Lopez, who has won an Emmy award. Last year, a forum and gala it sponsored in San Jose, California, had VIP guests like President P-Noy, Senators Chiz Escudero and Pia Cayetano.

Gail recalled that the presentation at the Lincoln Center had 60 Filipino participants — all of them artists from Broadway. Some of the artists were in tears, as it was the first time that they had been invited to perform at a big event. PhilDev will do anything to help. Its latest project is improving the laboratory facilities at the Philippine Science High school.

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