PNoy walked the talk ’til the end

COMMONSENSE - Marichu A. Villanueva - The Philippine Star

The social media went into high drive immediately after our late president Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III was reported early morning last June 24 as having passed away. Fondly called PNoy during his six-year watch at Malacanang Palace, it was later confirmed that he died of renal failure, secondary to diabetes. At a very young age of 61 years old, PNoy was found lifeless, alone in his bedroom.

What followed was a deluge of photographs, especially in the Facebook of every Tom, Dick and Harry poses with PNoy. And these came with “me, too” narratives of their personal reminisces and remembrances with PNoy in the past. This is not begrudging these people giving their personal tributes and sentiments.

During PNoy’s shortened stay here on Earth, more than a third of his lifetime was spent being a public servant. Prior to Malacanang from June 2010 to 2016, PNoy first served for nine years as Tarlac Congressman and later as Senator for six years. So among people familiar with him included many members of the media while they covered him up close and personal.

On the day PNoy died, memories flooded back to these people whose lives he touched, one way or the other.

But out of the many personal accounts we saw in Facebook, it was the post on that day by our resident Davao City correspondent, Ma. Edith Regalado that stood out for me. It was her vivid remembrances when she wrote authoritatively that “Noy, Rody ties date back to Davao ‘Yellow Fridays,‘” that appeared in the front page of The Star last Monday.

Aside from the fact that she lives in Davao City, Edith is also a certified “Blue Eagle” like PNoy. She graduated from the Ateneo de Davao University. All these 28 years she has been working at The Star, Edith has covered longest former Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. And up to now, Edith still covers Mayor Duterte after he succeeded PNoy in office. She still covers the Mayor who flies back and forth to Manila and Davao City.

With her permission, the following narratives were Edith’s first-hand encounters when she covered the “first” ever visit of PNoy in Davao City, along with the late photographer/contributor of The Star Rene Lumawag. Like Mayor Duterte, Edith speaks and writes interspersed with Visayan dialect. But the following could be understood from Edith’s recollections how this unfolded:

“PNoy Power and Tatay Rene…

We were at the old Davao International Airport to cover the arrival of President Aquino III in his first out-of-town trip after assuming the presidency in 2010. The PSG (Presidential Security Group – supplied) pushed us Davao media to the far end of the tarmac, making sure we were away from the reception party of local government officials who were waiting in line for PNoy’s arrival.

We were shoved so far that it really pissed off the late Tatay Rene Lumawag, ang dakilang Tatay ng Bayan.

And Tatay Rene ‘naakig kag’ nakiaaway and argued with the PSG – ”Kadaghan na nako nacoveran na presidente kag dagkong tao ginapaduol man mi, Dili man ingon ini kalayo!’

Yawyaw si Tatay – ’Unsaon man namo pagkuha niani ug guapo na angle ha?”

And here was the reply of the PSG – ”Gamitin niyo lens niyo. Ang lalaki niyan. Malalaki lens nyo, di na ninyo kailangan lumapit pa!”

To cut the story short PNoy’s plane did arrive on time. And Tatay Rene and the rest of us were really left to our fate that we could not get nearer to PNoy than where we were. But lo and behold! When PNoy was going down the plane, we realized he could clearly see us, the Davao media, were standing under the scorching heat of the almost noonday sun.

And what PNoy did left me dumbfounded! PNoy broke protocol and deferred greeting the reception party but he went straight to where we were – then he hugged me and we had ‘beso-beso.’

It was also the very first time that he called me ‘My Favorite’ which from then on became our usual greeting. Nga-nga ang PSG! because the PSG cannot control the President and tell him what to do.

I heard one of the PSG details even asked who was I daw – ’Sino ba yan siya?’ which I just laughed off. And what happened really made me laugh at Tatay Rene because it really was to his delight.

Tatay Rene then raised his fist at the PSG details – ’Te, ano? POWER! POWER! POWER! kami!

I really laughed hard because Tatay Rene had his revenge and in turn pissed off the PSG. Classic Tatay Rene.... Missed you Tatay.Tatay, PNoy is with you na in the Great Beyond and yes, no more PSG where you are – in heaven.

In a subsequent post in her Facebook, Edith narrated another encounter with PNoy who flew again to Davao City for yet another official visit. In verbatim, she wrote her one-on-one chats at the sideline with PNoy:

“PNoy called-off the then supposed press conference at the Waterfront Insular Hotel because he had to hurry back to Manila for an important and more urgent engagement.

But being his ‘favorite’ (it’s true, he used to call me ‘my favorite’), I was told to follow him at the Victoria Plaza where he took a quick lunch.

And secretly I went to where he was. I found him with his PSG details inside an area under a tree that was encircled by pieces of wooden scraps and some plastic rope and a sign that said t’was the designated smoking area.

“Edith!,” PNoy called me asking me to join him where he was.

And this was what he told me: “Tingnan mo ha, law-abiding citizen ako at dito ako naninigarilyo.”

And he continued....”Law-abiding citizen din ako at sumunod ako sa speed limit ninyo rito sa Davao ha, 30 lang takbo namin galing Waterfront.”

And we both laughed as he gestured with his hand how slow his convoy went.

He was referring to the smoking ban and speed limit that until now still prevail here in Davao City.

He was President of the Philippines then and he followed our local laws here when he could easily get away with it had he decided to defy them.”

That’s how PNoy walked the talk of “daang matuwid.” Unfortunately, some people who tried to follow his path fell by the wayside.

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