A personal glimpse of PNoy

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

My column last Sunday was “PNoy and life after the presidency.” I received a number of positive feedback. It was actually a reprint of an interview which I had with PNoy on Sept. 16, 2015. One common comment was that it was good to hear the words of PNoy directly instead of being interpreted or summarized by a writer.

I have decided to reproduce another article which I wrote for the book – The Aquino Legacy – which my wife Neni and I co-authored and subsequently published in 2015. This interview was our desire to learn more about the personal side of President Noynoy Aquino. I have rewritten the title of the topic; but the answers are completely the words of PNoy as transcribed from the recorded conversation.

On reading: In college, we had a professor who would literally bring a dozen books each time that he would recommend as worth reading. We used to tease him about being a salesman of National Book Store.

I generally read The Economist or TIME or specialized magazines for my hobby, shooting, music reproduction, but many times on military history, ancient and medieval warfare. I find it ironic that while reading tires my eyes, when I want to relax, it is reading I go back to.

I’m actually buying a lot of books that I’m storing for the time I will have after June 30.

To start catching up on all the reading I like reading actual books, rather than from an electronic device. I came across an article that said a hard copy allows you to take down notes or to mark passages – an aid to enhancing your memory on the subject. I think I inherited this from my father, not exactly a photographic memory, but I would be able to tell the person I assigned a particular task what page something is, even what part of the page.

Of course, I read Noli and Fili. It was obligatory. Read it in English, Tagalog and even in the original Spanish which was difficult.

On his fluency in Filipino: There was the Filipinization drive when we were in grade school and everything was taught in Filipino, even Greek mythology in high school. I was very fortunate to have this teacher, Mrs. Nenita Escasa, who had such command of the language that we bought all the English-Filipino dictionaries and they weren’t enough to overwhelm her vocabulary. She insisted we did not talk in Taglish.

I praised Mrs. Escasa in one SONA. I found out she started as an English professor but when martial law was proclaimed, practically the entire Filipino department was incarcerated or had to go underground. They had to look for new teachers and she was one of those asked to join the Filipino department.

On movies: I get kidded a lot for my penchant for old westerns, old war films. I like science fiction – many times I really need to take a little time out from the concerns of the world.

I have not watched all the movies of Kris. Baka naman mag-away pa kami.

On how he unwinds: I do shooting once a week. Listening to music is a daily affair. Getting to drive to Tarlac or to Baguio once or twice a year.

I used to listen to everything except heavy classics and rock but the other night I was listening to Black Eyed Peas. My nephew who got me the CD complained that the song I wanted, “Where is the Love,” was from 2003 – that was why it was so hard to find. Another one I like is “Next Episode” by Dr. Dre.

On memorable places in the Philippines: I would like to visit as a tourist all the places I have promoted. The Underground River in Palawan where I was for three hours, inclusive of lunch. The Sleeping Giant rock formation in Bukidnon that I saw for 15 seconds. Even Tagaytay’s panoramic view, I saw for two minutes. I have been to Boracay only for an hour and I remember my mom’s photo wading in the beach, looking so serene.

Maybe I can drive around the country doing a RORO trip via all the roads which have been built.

On his sister Ballsy: I liken her to a second mom. All the things that were beyond our abilities when we were younger or did not want to bother with, we’d bother Ate with. The joke among us growing up was if you borrow P6 from her, you pay when able and only P5. She even makes you feel na may utang na loob pa siya when you pay. She is just so kind, caring and full of concern.

It was not easy for her to be the eldest. There were many demands and restrictions on her. Before martial law, she had such a hard time getting permission for a party. She would have to bring the senior bodyguard, the family driver and the mayordoma who kept the strict curfew for her set by our parents, with travel time computed. If Ate ignored it, [the mayordoma] would even go to the dance floor and say it’s time.

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Writefest2021, our annual 6-session workshop returns on July 12-23. Young Writers’ Hangout on July 10 & 24 with Gabriela Lee and Weng Cahiles, respectively, 2-3 p.m. Contact writethingsph@gmail.com. 0945.2273216

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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