(Editor’s Note: With a little less than a month before the mid-term elections in May, INQUIRER.net has decided to deviate from the usual platform interviews of senatorial and local candidates that have been aired and written about and instead get to know them up close and, perhaps a little more personal, as we hope so will you our dear readers. The series of interviews will be posted on our special election site, Vote 2013 under INQuest. Is the exercise meant to make these candidates look good? Definitely not. But we enjoin you to watch and listen and let your candidates tell their stories because, believe it or not, their stories are ours as well.)
MANILA, Philippines—Three years after his separation from his ex-wife, Christine, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero still finds himself playing the role of a mother to their five-year-old twins.
This means cooking for his two kids, doing the grocery, and reading books to put them to sleep, although he says that since two weeks ago, it’s now his children who read books to him.
In this fourth in a series of “INQuest: Vote 2013” interviews with senatorial and local candidates, Escudero talks about how he manages his time with his children while campaigning for his reelection in the upcoming midterm elections.
Escudero admits that his separation from his former wife was the “lowest point” of his life.
“Doon ko na-realize at nagising na kahit na anong gawin ko, hindi ko na kayang buuin yung pamilya ko ( I realized then that no matter what I do, I can no longer fix my family),” he says.
“I felt sad, not only for myself, but for my kids. I think that’s really the lowest point in my life.”
Escuderos’ 10-year marriage with Christine ended in 2010 but it was only officially voided by the court last year.
Before Christine, the senator reveals that he had only one other girlfriend, for nine years. Christine had been his girlfriend for five years before he eventually married her. He is now in a relationship with 28-year-old actress Heart Evangelista since August 2012.
Asked if he had been turned down by a girl before, Escudero says: “Muntik na, sa una kong girlfriend (Almost, with my first girlfriend).”
“Noong tinanong ko siya…ang narinig kong sinabi niya (When I asked her, I heard her say), let’s be friends. Biglang pinandilatan ko, tinanong ko (I was startled and asked her): ‘What?’ Biglang…I mean like, I’ll think about it.”
Escudero also talks about his friendship with President Aquino. He says they call each other whenever either of them is down.
“Minsan tatawag siya pag nalulungkot. Minsan ako tatawag pag nalulungkot ako. Wala. Kwentuhan lang (Sometimes he would call me when he is sad and I would call him when I’m sad. We just talk).”
He can’t recall, he says, having a fight with the President.
Escudero did not end the interview without talking about his father, the late Sorsogon Representative Salvador “Sonny” Escudero, who died of cancer last year.
He says his father objected to his decision to enter politics, first by running for councilor when he was still taking up law, and then for mayor after he finished his studies. His father even objected to his running for congressman in 1998 and for senator in 2007.
“When I ran, my father didn’t campaign for me. He never stood on stage to campaign for me in any of our rallies. He was surprised when I delivered my speech for an hour…in straight and pure Bicol, because he knew I grew up in Manila. He didn’t know that I already knew how to speak our dialect,” says the senator.
“I’m sure he worked in the background. He just wanted to make my victory taste sweeter by not actively campaigning and pushing for my candidacy. He never did campaign openly by delivering a speech or being interviewed by media, wala.”
One thing that his father had taught him, though, he says, was how to live simply—not arrogantly or acting “high and mighty.”
“Nothing is permanent in this world,” Escudero recalls his father as always telling them.