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The Bubble Gang


By their number, you get an idea what this intrepid, avant garde breed is up to: something heroic, something noble.  Certainly, it’s about politics, but it should take not take away from their avowed good intention, a better Philippines under the current playmaker.

The source of inspiration is either Gideon and his 300 men who were particularly chosen because they drank water from their cupped hands to save Israel from the Midianites, or the 300 Spartan men led by King Leonidas who fought off the invading Persians.

The group’s ambitious if absurd motive is to make President Duterte more presidential than he already is, or more powerful than he already is under the current economy.   

The path the group wants Duterte to take is, well, revolutionary as it’s objective says so unabashedly: form a revolutionary government. In plain language, a dictatorship where bets will be off: no Congress, no Supreme Court, Duterte as lion king. In other words, the Constitution is more useful in the garbage bin.

Is this group clueless?

It looks that way, from a normative standard. As it is, Congress is nothing less than putty in  Duterte’s hand — the Senate seems made of harder material than its lower counterpart, but it’s eventually  malleable — the Supreme Court doesn’t inspire much confidence either, the military is Duterte’s apple of the eye and the local government leaders are at his beck and call.

So what’s the point of a revgov? Nada.

Something must give beyond the surface.

 Interestingly, one of the clueless souls is our own Arlene Buan, a lawyer, a former board member,  and a once-and-future lawmaker but for the questionable 11 votes he fell short off in a congressional fight for the Angeles City lone district decades ago.

 In the middle of an electoral protest against the late Tarzan Lazatin, Buan was reported to have suddenly made a trip to the United States. And so it went that, he fought and ran away  only to live to fight another day.  But he subsequently lost again in a mayoralty bid against the affable and avid flesh presser Ed Pamintuan.

Buan is a political protege of a sort of the late Gov. Bren Z. Guiao who appointed him to the interim provincial board following the revolutionary government of former President Cory.

Bren is someone who could smell a phony from miles away, so Buan is presumably isn’t by Guiao’s standard alone.  It doesn’t mean the guy, Buan, is perfect.

Guiao used to say that the tragedy of democracy is that one can always make oneself a fool.  And he loved to lecture on the subject at every opportunity.  He was a class act at subtle ridicule or flat-out flattery when the moment required it , and he never missed a beat.

Probably only a handful of politicians–or probably none at all–escape his methaphorical put down ‘mapanako ya naman damulag yan’ (that guy is a carabao thief), or dizzying adulation ‘deng taong anti karen mibabait lamu ever 611 years kalupa na ning akbung ning PInatubo’ (a person like him is born every 611 years  like the Pinatubo eruption.)

Or the ultimate condescencion: ‘maninap ya’ (he’s dreaming).

But even those who don’t know Buan from Adam, have less flattering opinion about the movement he espouses. Sen. Ping Lacson  employed  a carpenter’s tool to describe the revgov movers and shakers.   Wala sa hulog. In Kapampangan, it’s downright degrading: alalu keng patulu. (They’re out of the plumbline).

Even their supposed principal beneficiary, Duterte himself, has disowned the group or the plan. Cease and desist, Sotto of the Senate, interpreted.

After years of silence, Buan has  sadly emerged from obscurity to irrelevance, from barren  idleness to brazen idolatry.   For how do you explain their attempt to make the self-anointed  San Rodrigo more   god-like?

When memories outweigh our dreams, Bill Clinton says, we have grown old.

Buan  must be feeling young still,  dreaming yet his time will come, years after his unsuccessful run in Angeles politics. A revgov can conceivably  help make that happen just like during the time of Cory when every sitting local leader with a Marcos smell  was replaceable without the benefit of an election.  Who knows lighting will strike twice and make room for him, voila. He could snatch an elective  post from either of the Lazatin brothers that rule over the city, Pogi or Jon-Jon.

A friendly caveat: the Lazatins have a time-tested template with which they run roughshod over local politicians. In politics, Angeles is half-myth and half-money.  When the old man invented the slogan ‘ditak a salita, dakal a gawa’, he understood the myth. Perception is reality.  The other half, money is speech in politics or it is politics itself.

Until and unless he has the same template, Buan may have to forget his political dreams and jump out of the revgov ship that is likely to flounder before it will hit shore. Everybody is shooting it from all vantage points.

Ask Edpam, who has fought the Goliath in his turf and lost.  Or if he wants to read Duterte’s mind, ask Manolo Feliciano, a lawyer and schoolmate of Duterte at San Beda, the most flamboyant rich boy in the  Benedictine campus where Mustangs were fewer than monks there in his time, and he drove one.

Or have a heart- to -heart  coffee talk  with Yeng Guiao, whose late father once conceded  the old man Lazatin was the smartest, shrewdest politician he had ever known.  There such a thing as DNA, even in politics, which is passed on to the next generation.

Yeng has run into that DNA, and he’s lived to tell the story.


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