No happily ever-aftering
Once upon a time, I lived happily ever after.” Movie actor Mickey Rooney offered this one-sentence story of how he bolted to stellar roles alongside Spencer Tracy and Judy Garland. Then, he slumped into drugs, gambling and bankruptcy.
Once upon a time, an economist-professor who grew up in Malacañang and studied in Georgetown University thought she’d live happily ever after.
As 14th Philippine president, the 5-feet-tall Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stared down coup plotters and gutted repeated impeachment bids, Agence France Presse recalls. But Friday’s arrest for electoral sabotage turned GMA “from superstar to reviled figure in a spectacular rise and fall through the country’s chaotic democracy.”
“When quiet, studious Gloria Arroyo became Philippine president in 2001, she was hailed as the perfect antidote to her loud, hard-drinking predecessor Joseph Estrada,” BBC noted. “But over her nine-year term, her popularity plummeted as she faced allegations of vote-rigging and corruption.”
Laid at GMA’s doorsteps are scams, from the overpriced Macapagal Boulevard, ZTE broadband scam, “Garci tapes” etc. She played fast and loose with the truth in claiming life-threatening ailments that needed medical attention only available abroad, Justice Lourdes Sereno wrote in her dissent. Prognosis by Filipino physicians saw full recovery in less than a year.
“If his mother were really seriously sick, would Ang Galing party-list Rep. Mikey leave for abroad, as he did Nov. 17, to raise money for his political party?” wondered former senator Rene Saguisag. The Quezon City Regional Trial Court, where Mikey and wife confront a P73-million tax-evasion case, approved his trip.
“The Arroyos seem to keep insulting our little intelligence.” In a play on Cicero’s 63 B.C. speech, Saguisag asked: “Quo usque tandem abutere, Gloria, patientia nostra? “How much longer will the Arroyos abuse our patience?”
The Pasay Regional Trial Court approved Monday temporary hospital arrest for GMA. Mug shots won’t be released. The constitutionality of the DOJ-Comelec panel will be challenged. The blood pressure of a haggard Arroyo stood at an elevated 140/100. She has lost appetite and is being hydrated with IV fluid, her doctor said.
Who hit the Replay button? Once upon a time, the 13th Philippine president assumed he’d “live happily ever after” after oath-taking at the historical Barasoain Church
Joseph Estrada’s favorite conversation peg then was a unique watch. It counted down the 2,191 days from his first day in Malacañang to repeat oath-taking. That’d come when, after a no-sweat reelection campaign, he’d be sworn in as 14th president. That’s how the script ran.
But Erap’s wristwatch stopped ticking two years after his inaugural “Now Power Is with the People” address at the Luneta. Concubines, a “midnight cabinet” of thieves and Petrus wine uncorked by the case blacked out intimations of mortality. He failed to deliver. People Power 2 yanked him out, as they did his predecessor in People Power 1.
Once upon a time, the 8th Philippine president assumed he’d live happily ever after in a bizarre Camelot he dubbed the “New Society.” But Ferdinand Marcos never dreamed that a walang alam widow clad in yellow would lead People Power and end without bloodshed his corrupt 14-year dictatorship.
Hawaiian exile and death from lupus at age 72 scrubbed FM’s scenarios. President Fidel Ramos agreed to an Ilocos Norte burial. The Marcos family backtracked and insisted on a Libingnan Ng Mga Bayani funeral. Holding back decay by protracted embalming, the Marcoses have displayed the body in a Batac mausoleum for two decades now.
President Benigno Aquino III, however, scuppered a resolution, signed by 214 congressmen for a Libingan burial. Not even God can alter the past. Men can only doctor historical accounts. And the records do show these facts:
US National Archives records debunked 37 Marcos war medals as bogus. “At no time did the Army recognize that any unit, designating itself as Maharlika, ever existed as a guerrilla force in the years of Japanese occupation 1942 to 1945.”
Three years after Marcos clamped on martial law, Amnesty International reported: “The Philippines has been transformed from a country with a remarkable constitutional tradition to a system where star chamber methods have been used on so wide a scale as to literally torture evidence into existence … Over 1,500 were murdered and thousands arbitrarily detained.”
Marcos tax deficiency added up to P23.2 million. That did not include Ferdinand Jr’s P18.5-million debt. In 2003, the Supreme Court forfeited $836 million stashed in shell foundations abroad. For secret accounts, Marcos used the alias of “William Saunders” and Imelda signed as “Jane Ryan.
“Call back yesterday,’ Richard II cried. “Bid time return.” But these failures are already etched into history.
Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo were gifted by the people with a rare opportunity to achieve, through selfless service, greatness. All three blew it.
Now it’s too late. “Four things never return,” the old proverb says. “The sped arrow, wasted time, the spoken word—and missed opportunity.” There will be no Camelot-like “happily ever-aftering.”
Once upon a time, an itinerant teacher from Galilee wept over Jerusalem. The city squandered opportunities for grace. “Because you did not know the time of your visitation,” he warned, “not a stone will be left upon stone in you.”
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