‘Manong Ernie was like a lion and you were the prey’
FROM his pastel-colored suits to how he cornered a senator into signing a resolution even inside a men’s room was just one of the many things his former colleagues remembered former Senate President Ernesto Maceda when they paid their tributes to him on Thursday.
In his eulogy during the necrological service at the Senate, Senator Gringo Honasan recalled how Maceda who passed away Monday night advised him to be “very competitive” in looks and appearance.
“Let’s talk about sartorial elegance. In a chamber that was populated by serious men, wearing dark suits, Manong Ernie would enter the plenary session wearing pastel-colored suits and get away with it, straight out of fashion magazine,” Honasan said.
“Let’s talk about complexion, the envy of women and sex appeal, the envy of men half his age, he was one of the few public servants I knew who had such gravitas that he could combine logic and charm,” he added.
“Akala ko noon, I was the resident coup plotter in the Senate – I was wrong,” Honasan, a former military rebel said. “Even from the corner of your eye when you saw or felt, or smelled Manong Ernie coming, you started to palpitate. It was like watching a lion or a leopard, coming in for the kill, and you were the prey.”
The senator then recalled an incident when Maceda talked to him inside the men’s room, carrying a piece of paper, containing a resolution for a Senate organization.
“You had this impression that it was a matter of life and death and national security for the nation to the point where just want to end the agony, you wanted to sign that paper with what you’re holding in front of the urinal to get it over with and spare yourself the agony of arguing Manong Ernie.”
Honasan said Maceda was “Machiavellian with toppings” — with a conscience and a heart.
But Senate President Franklin Drilon said Maceda was not the “fearless” Mr. Expose that everybody knows, recalling the time when the latter was trying to secure 13 votes to get elected Senate President.
“I remember very well on October 10 of 1996, maybe Greg (Honasan’s nickname) here signed that piece of paper in the toilet but in the Senate that piece of paper is not enough. You must vote in open session according to what you signed,” Drilon said.
“And I remember that afternoon, Greg went somewhere, I don’t know where, I think he was on a plane somewhere and we were only 12. And for about an hour, we’re closeted in a room , namumutla si Manogn Ernie, hindi po nya malaman kung saan nagpunta si Greg Honasan, who was the 13th at that time but Greg came and affirmed his signature in that piece of paper that he signed in the toilet and Ernie Maceda became our Senate President,” he added.
Drilon commended Maceda as one of the most widely respected names in Philippine politics, saying that the late senator was an “intellectual giant who carved his own remarkable niche in the world of politics, diplomacy and media.”
“In his five decades of dedicated public service, Manong Ernie took on different roles that showcased his brilliance, professionalism, work ethic, organizational skills and political savvy,” the Senate leader said.
He said Maceda will be remembered for being one of the “Magnificent 12,” the senators who voted to reject the US Bases extension in the Philippines.
Former Senator Rene Saguisag, meanwhile, likened Maceda to Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry.
“He (Maceda) was very helpful to tyros or amateurs like myself so the nation and I owe him plenty,” Saguisag said.
“But as good as Manong Ernie was, kamukha din ni Stephen Curry ng Warriors, you can’t win them all,” he said.
Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, and former Senators Francisco Tatad, and Orlando Mercado also gave their eulogies.
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