“Don’t worry, darling. Believe it or not, I’m still here,” Alan Peter Cayetano said amid laughter and loud teasing from INQUIRER editors and reporters as his wife, Lani, called at around midnight to find out where he was and as this paper’s staff tweeted his comments about Chiz-Heart and Kris-James.
Cayetano talked about how he and Lani handled love in the time of reelection and why he missed Team PNoy campaign rallies.
“We never sleep a night apart,” Cayetano said.
“In politics, there are many temptations and challenges so I made a pact with Lani that no matter what, I will always come home to her. That’s why I don’t join the Team PNoy [rallies] where I would have to stay overnight if she can’t be with me,” he said.
It was already past midnight but the interview continued, covering Cayetano’s campaign style, views on political dynasties and his proposed cash handout for small businesses.
He was discussing Kris Aquino’s legal tussle with former husband James Yap when his cell phone rang. It was the Mayor.
The Mayor was, of course, his wife, the mayor of Taguig City.
“You might want to tweet this. My wife [told me] not to comment too much on Kris and Chiz,” he said, amid laughter after the mayor’s call.
It was the Cayetanos’ ninth wedding anniversary on Friday but, ironically, it gave the senator the chance to spend the night on the campaign trail, stumping through Albay province with his fellow candidates on President Aquino’s Team PNoy ticket.
But that was only because Cayetano’s wife was with him.
“I have to be home at night,” Cayetano said, explaining why he missed most of Team PNoy’s out-of-town rallies. He said he and his wife had agreed that they would always be together at the end of their work days.
“She also has her campaign to take care of,” he said, when someone suggested that he just bring his wife with him as he stumped across the country.
The Cayetanos and the administration ticket were all in Legazpi City on Friday. The couple planned to celebrate their ninth wedding anniversary with Lani’s family, which hails from nearby Tiwi in Albay, as the administration team campaigned through the Bicol region.
“It’s hard for me [to be on the campaign trail with] Team PNoy if there is no night flight. Three weeks ago when I was in Legazpi, my return flight was canceled thrice. So [Lani] called and she told me, ‘OK, you can stay there,’” Cayetano said.
Despite the night pass the mayor was giving him, Cayetano said he would rather go on a 12-hour nighttime road trip from southern Luzon than enjoy a restful evening in the countryside.
“The mayor I was with was already lending me a car so we were preparing for a 12-hour drive,” Cayetano said.
As it turned out, the Philippine Airlines plane managed to make it to Legazpi to take Cayetano and the other passengers back to Manila.
“I wanted to surprise her but she knew the members of my staff. She called each one of them and knew that I was able to catch a flight,” Cayetano said.
While a good number of married men are comfortable with business that takes them a night or two away from their spouses, such apparently isn’t the case with Cayetano, who’s campaigning on the national level for the second time.
Helping the laggards
Sen. Franklin Drilon, Team PNoy’s campaign manager, has openly called on poll front-runners like Cayetano and fellow reelectionists Sen. Loren Legarda and Sen. Francis Escudero to help the laggards like Aurora Rep. Sonny Angara, former Senators Jamby Madrigal and Ramon Magsaysay Jr., and former Akbayan Rep. Risa Hontiveros.
The four are outside the winning circle in the latest Pulse Asia poll, which shows eight administration candidates in the top 12.
It wasn’t until two weeks after the proclamation rally led by President Aquino at Plaza Miranda that Cayetano joined the team for a stump through Pampanga, just two hours from Manila.
“Tito Frank knew that I already had a campaign plan for the first two weeks,” Cayetano said, referring to his Presyo, Trabaho, Kita (PTK) Listening Tour aimed at market vendors, factory workers, public transport drivers and farmers.
“But lately I have been attending more [rallies with the team] than Chiz and Loren,” he said.
Cayetano said that even in his radio interviews, he endorses his fellow candidates on the administration team.
“I mention one or two. It can’t be that you’ll mention them all at the same time because you’d run out of time,” Cayetano said.
“Sometimes I mention Tita Cynthia [Villar] and [Antonio] Trillanes (his colleagues in the Nacionalista Party). Sometimes Bam [Benigno Aquino IV of the Liberal Party], it depends on the topic of the interview. Sometimes Risa, because there are times I’m with her campaigning,” Cayetano said.
Cayetano had a lengthy endorsement for Magsaysay, a returning two-term senator who investigated corruption in the military as chair of the Senate committee on national defense and into the P728-million fertilizer fund scam as chair of the Senate committee on agriculture.
“I try to mention Magsaysay [in my interviews]… What I’m saying is that of all the candidates I’m pushing for, he’s such a decent guy, he has a good name but six years out of the public eye changes things,” Cayetano said.
“If you talk about decency in government, that’s [Jun Magsaysay],” he added.
Cayetano also has high hopes for the Liberal stalwart, who’s easily the elder statesman in the group. “Bam and Grace [Poe] were much lower [in the surveys] but they went up,” Cayetano said of the figures that show Bam Aquino and Poe in Pulse Asia’s top 12.
Does Cayetano also ask voters to vote for Liberal Party member Madrigal?
“As a group, yes. There’s no animosity. We were together on radio,” Cayetano said of the outspoken former senator.
Madrigal campaigned hard against Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Sen. Manuel Villar in 2010. Cayetano had heated exchanges with Madrigal in the media at that time as the party’s and Villar’s campaign spokesperson.
Asked on Twitter if he had an advice for Escudero, who’s experiencing problems with his girlfriend Heart Evangelista’s parents, Cayetano said: “It’s better to have issues with your parents-in-law than have no parents-in-law at all. Try to appreciate them.”
Cayetano said he himself had differences with his late father, former Sen. Rene Cayetano, but added that he’d rather have fights with his father than miss him after he passed on.
“So I’ll tell Chiz the same thing. I know there is a quarrel. But find a way to talk to patch things up,” he added.
Social media also sought, through the Inquirer twitter account, Cayetano’s take on the controversy between presidential sister Kris Aquino and her former husband, professional basketball player James Yap.
“My advice to Kris is to take it all in stride,” Cayetano said.
To Yap, he said: “Nothing can be solved through the courts and the media.” He suggested that Yap allow Kris and their son Bimby to take a vacation abroad, let things cool down and talk with mutual friends how things could be well again.