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SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. (The Philippine Star) - July 13, 2019 - 12:00am

“If you are not willing to look stupid, nothing great is ever going to happen to you.” Three men took this classic counsel of Television’s greatest Doctor, Gregory House to heart. On their path to greatness, coincidentally at the “House”, Boy, were they ever so willing to look the part.

In courtship rituals that channeled the epidermis of Manila Zoo’s elephant Mali, Alan Peter Cayetano, Lord Allan Velasco and Martin Romualdez inflicted themselves on President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and on our captive attention in the quest to wrest the Speakership. To be sure, these hoops they jumped through and every contortion they were reduced to trying are the same ones their predecessors had to contend with. Not every incoming or midterm Speakership battle is neat and tidy. Even the Presidency of the Senate has seen term sharing trade offs in the past. But none in recent history have played out as publicly as this one. And its has done nothing to improve the image of the House.

To know the great enthusiasms and devotions. No one should begrudge these gentlemen their enthusiasm for the post. To paraphrase Plato: the price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. What Teddy Roosevelt considers the highest ideal of citizenship? To dare. His speech, the man in the arena continues to sustain generations of public servants. Perhaps, to some, our opening line does not do justice to the mindset of these three men. Try Robert Kennedy? “Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

PRRD, to his credit, tried to stay out of it until it became inescapable that only his leadership could break the impasse. So he chose Alan. Purists dock him for wading in, as if hallowed government separation would be mortally wounded. We don’t see it that way. He is leader of the largest party and is supported by the next largest ones – most of which deferred to his guidance. He was asked to, so he obliged. And, as former Senate President Koko Pimentel reminds us, it is but an advantage and not an assurance.

Ang Probinsyano entered showbiz lore as possibly the most successful prime time television series ever. This is the show that became too successful for its own good. Imagine DILG and PNP men crying foul over their just or unjust portrayals. Just like the original Fernando Poe Jr. starrer, the series is of the mixed action/drama/comedy genre. The story of the decent provincial cop with his heart in the right place, anathema to grizzled city counterparts, struck a chord with the viewing public. Whether wired to root for the underdog or otherwise just inured to reality, we simply embraced this familiar trope in popular culture. 

Superstar Coco Martin has rebooted the franchise. It is the latter’s ABS-CBN nightly series that has made Ang Probinsyano the byword that it is. Because of the allure of both superstars, King and Crown Prince, to the generations they entertained, a Party that rode on the show’s popularity used Ang Probinsyano as its official name and made no bones about identifying with the show. You will remember this Party by the propaganda and campaign material – lead stars Martin and Yassi Pressman mugging for the official party-list photo. The Party’s official mission is to uplift the lot in Congress of our brothers from the provinces.

Ang Probinsyano was ranked fifth among all parties and No. 1 among all the new party-list groups. Its more than 800,000 votes entitled it to two seats. One of them is held by Alfredo De los Santos. This is the same Alfredo de los Santos who threw a punch at a probinsyano at a Diner in Legazpi, Albay. The incident was caught on CCTV and has now become viral. 

This is really the downside of permitting the goodwill aspect of a person or a character’s identity to be used for its endorsement value. By associating the candidate with the positive values espoused by the show, the series puts its own reputation on the line and in the hands of the candidates they endorse. For better or for worse, these Congressmen represent not only the party but are de facto image models for the show itself. 

Alfredo de los Santos must hold the record for the fastest time to stain the reputation of the House and of his own party. The worst part is that his shenanigans unnecessarily and unfairly reflect on the Show itself. 

Windmills of your mind. Michel Legrand’s haunting but hard to understand masterpiece (best original song at the Academy Awards in 1969) has long been a personal favorite. The seductive melody, so emblematically Legrand (also evident in I will wait for you from Umbrellas of Cherbourg and Two for the Road), matched the psychedelic lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman. Who would be surprised if some retitled it the Cobwebs of your mind?

I was pleasantly surprised to hear this song performed by our President while he was clearly relaxing at President Speaker Gloria M. Arroyo’s farewell party last week.  It was a refreshing departure from the Presidential song of his first 1000 days: Ikaw. He was a jukebox that night, covering at least 8 songs in an impressive repertoire. But once he started with “Round like a circle in a spiral …”, I discovered a new appreciation for the man. Michel Legrand died early this year after a lifetime of beautiful music. 

Unicorn sighting. Tamaraws were last seen in Mindoro in 1992. They’ve been seen again this month at their habitat on the slopes of Mt. Calavite in Palauan, Occidental Mindoro. These sightings affirm the hope of viable populations remaining of this endearing national symbol. This is good news. 

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