Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Former Marcos Propagandist: A Memoir

By Boy Guingguing
Sunday Post Publisher

When it was fashionable to be a Marcos boy, the opportunity offered was irresistible that our personification was more of a rule than the exception. 

At least we are man enough to admit that once upon a time we were part of the Marcos coterie in the local level. Unlike some people we know who were easily afflicted with selective amnesia when their Marcos connection became the subject of conversation. 

Simply put, being a Marcos loyalist during its heydays was more of a badge of honor rather than a yardstick of opportunism. 

If we were part of the chosen few who belonged to the Marcos cabal, it was not because of political connection or whatever, but of plain and simple talent. 

In our time with the Marcos partisans, our talent in broadcast media (that was the prime of Inyong Alagad over Station DYRD where luckily for this BGlante catapulted him to the pinnacle of top anchor) was exploited to maximum impact. But of course. In fact, many were called but only few were chosen. 

So, it was no wonder that we were offered the top plum to handle the Marcos speaker's bureau in programs aired over the two city radio stations. 

It may be worth recollecting that our broadcast contemporaries at that time were such opposition heavyweights the likes of lawyers Victor de la Serna and Dan Lim, to name a few radio luminaries. Although we where in opposite sides of the equation, we still maintained our friendship.   

Against this backdrop, it was a rare privilege for this BGlante to have tangled the best and the brightest in the annals of radio broadcasting in paid radio programs which came after the other in prime radio time. We handled the 12:00-1:00 PM slot while de la Serna followed handling the succeeding one hour block. 

It came to pass then that we were caught in a spirited seesaw battle to rule the air lanes of listeners with this BGlante selling Marcos like a product while de la Serna was rooting for Cory. 

We decided to refresh our memories of the Marcos-Cory epic election showdown in February 1986 after the euphoria of the former lady President reached its peak when she was buried last August 5. 

Besides, it was our way of paying tribute to the freedom we enjoyed after Cory clobbered the dictator Marcos in a snap election in 1986. 

What actually happened after Marcos was chased out of MalacaƱang as a result of Cory's people power? The fact is, it actually was the meat of this brief on how Cory made this BGlante a balimbing and got away with it. 

The most interesting part of this true confession was how we reacted when Marcos was brought to Hawaii feet first and therefore against his will. He begged off to be brought to Paoay in Ilocus only to be dumped in Hawaii. What a way to end a colorful political career. 

Back home, the local Marcos stooges were caught in a quandary and were asking what went wrong. Left like orphans, they had nowhere to go after the product they were selling left the country without any ceremony. 

The hardest part was how to convince our listeners that in selling Marcos like a product there was no warranty that we were obligated to explain that if it broke down it was our duty to replace. 

True, a replacement did come in earnest, but it was in the form of Cory. 

In the case of the Marcos followers like us, what now, was the big question.  

Finding no recourse at the moment, we likened ourselves to dogs left by the master and holding the proverbial empty bag. 

Then, the division of spoils began. Our arch nemesis in the noontime program (de la Serna) was rewarded OIC governor. 

Stereotyped as a white knight in a shining armor, the combative de la Serna ruled Capitol as OIC like a whiff of fresh out to clean the dust and grime of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) domination. 

While de la Serna ruled the Capitol roost, this BGlante slowly inched back to becoming a "civilian". This time, back as hard-boiled staffer of the Bohol Chronicle. 

Since our KBL contract was co-terminus with Marcos who ran away for good, we were back in the Inyong Alagad saddle with a vengeance. Our usual repartee then when asked about our Marcos stigma,  was that our being a product endorser was not contingent to its behavior in the free market of  competing product lines. 

It did not take so long for the welter of events that followed given the triumph of people power. With our Marcos connection on the block, the next question was how can it easily be buried in the ash heap of history?

The answer was in de la Serna's treatment of political enemies this BGlante included.

But now it can be told. Although adversarial at best, our consolation was that he was not vindictive. In the aftermath therefore of his OIC appointment, this BGlante was easily assimilated in the mainstream media as if our Marcos link was just a bad dream out to ruin a good night sleep of this former Marcos propagandist. 

If truth is to be told, there's no other plausible explanation except to admit that the reason why our Marcos bias was easily erased at the onslaught of the OIC regime was that people indeed have short memories. 

Another factor was the fruit in season then was the balimbing and admittedly it also helped that we converted our self as one and voila! back in the waiting arms of the powers-that-be at the Capitol. 

Meantime, while de la Serna was enjoying the power and prestige of OIC-governor, Dan Lim was subsequently appointed OIC- city mayor. 

To this BGlante, the Lim appointment likened me to a turtle being thrown to a swimming pool. Being a friend from way, way back, it was not hard to imagine that I was readily accommodated as part of the city hall tenants.  Our friendship dated back when I taught him the nuances of a commentary program which we titled Checkpoint. That started a long term relationship that lasted even now.     

Tribute to Cory Aquino

   There was little left to the imagination as far as the Filipino's love for Cory Aquino is concerned. It is difficult to describe the mammoth crowd that accompanied her to the grave such that one journalist said it made Ninoy's burial attendance look like an ordinary one. 
    So what was it that endeared Cory Aquino to a people that many had written off for their skepticism and cynicism? 
    No one can really say considering that no one has been appointed spokesperson of the entire mass that converged since her wake and until she was put to rest beside Ninoy. 
    The word that was either on the mouths of those who knew what it was or those who meant it if their definition was made the basis was sincerity. It was sincerity that made Cory stand heads and shoulders over the rest. 
    It was her sincerity that disarmed otherwise sophisticated and hard-to-please veterans of the corridors of power. It was her sincerity that endeared her to the masa even though she was never one of them or pretended to be so. 
    Sincerity it was that saved the day for her whenever she committed errors in judgment and procedural lapses during her stint in MalacaƱang. And this was the same factor that made her voice credible long after she had bowed out of power. 
    It would be the understatement of the year to say that she is the most admired woman and Filipino of this generation. The stampede that nearly crushed the frail among the mourners near her burial ground is enough proof of that. 
    Now that she has become larger than life in her death, it would not be far-fetch to think that the Cory wannabes among the present and future crop of politicians are legion. For every original copy, there would thousands of counterfeits all hoping to pass off as the real McCoy. 
    Sincerity however is not merely seen. It is felt because it comes from the heart. It has no need for expert PR consultants to come up with clever machinations that capture a moment's notice but requires a fortune to put up with it. 
    The fascinating thing about sincerity is that more often than not, those who exude it never gave it much thought. Sincerity is not a conscious by-product but a natural consequence of a heart given over to honesty and purity. 
    Sincerity does not pay immediate dividends, the reason why those who want quick fixes frown on it. And yet, Cory's life has taught the Filipino one valuable lesson that should tide him over in this age of cynicism and skepticism.  
    Without a doubt, sincerity has its own rewards.