Unreturned comeback

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    STRAIGHT FROM the horse’s mouth: “Totoo na ngayon, kasi marami ang nagdududa… dahil dalawang beses ako na postpone na hahabol ng mayor dito mula 2004.”

    Sen. Manuel “Lito” Lapid himself certifying the veracity of his run for the Angeles City mayorship in 2016. Still, doubts linger. Lapid having publicly announced at least on three occasions to run for a certain position only to have a change of heart and actually ran for a different one: 1) for the city mayorship in 2004 only to go for the Senate instead; 2) for the city mayorship again in 2007 only to shift to Makati and lose miserably to Jejomar Binay; 3) for the governorship in 2010 only to re-elect to the Senate.

    Making the attendant hoopla to Lapid’s every announcement of his candidacy never a guarantee of its veracity. It’s all make-believe. As this piece originally titled Cinematic published here Sept. 10, 2009 affirm.

    THE RETURN of the comeback. That was an inane blurb for an asinine movie starred in by Redford – not Hollywood’s Robert but the Filipino White – sometime in the nearly forgotten past.

    The return of the comeback. That instantly flashed in my mind at Tuesday’s media conference dubbed Ang Pagbabalik 2010 heralding Sen. Lito Lapid’s comeback to Pampanga politics.

    No, not for any inanity in the Bida’s bid to reclaim the governorship he held from 1995 to 2004, and bequeathed to his son Mark until 2007, but for the cinematic sense that pervaded the mediacon.

    Yes, the very tarpaulin poster of Ang Pagbabalik – with the silhouette of a horseman about to gallop against a backdrop of mountain ranges – not so subtly impressed into the mind Lapid’s signature movie persona, the gunslinger Leon Guerrero.

    Politics indeed seemed to have been but an afterthought that day. As the discerning Ding Cervantes noted in our banner story here yesterday: “Lapid’s press conference initially turned out to be one for his forthcoming movie, together with movie actor Ronnie Rickets and director Baldo Maro, even as local media who were told to proceed to the restaurant venue here as early as 9 a.m. awaited for Lapid’s political declaration. By noon, however, movie reporters were still tackling Lapid’s movie project.”

    Yes, both the Kapuso and Kapamilya channels were there, but with their entertainment, not political, reporters. Ang Probinsiyano 3, that is supposed to be the title of Lapid’s movie with Rickets, the earlier Parts 1 and 2 having starred in by the late action king and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. Shut out of the interviews by the entertainment press, the local media contented themselves with the chicken-leg-cum-noodle lunch. Though some of the young local TV reporters reduced themselves to being movie fans, having their pictures taken with Rickets.

    To the point was Ding: “This presages another possible Lapid administration based on script and acting.” So he quoted “one of the local journalists who asked not to be named.” To disabuse some malicious minds, it was not this writer that said it.

    The movie mindset extended to the political part of the mediacon.

    Lapid introduced his vice gubernatorial candidate, Lea Dizon, as his “leading lady in politics.” The aesthetic value of Dizon, even primed over her intellectual assets honed at the University of Asia and the Pacific and the Universidad de Barcelona.

    Lapid made use of flashbacks too – just like in the movies – for dramatic effect: How it was during his first term, fighting the lahar rampages, wading waist-deep in floodwaters, battling starvation in the evacuation centers, standing up to the national government when it was deemed that “nature should take its own course” to the utter destruction of the towns of Porac and Bacolor. The drama here lent authenticity by Lapid invoking living witnesses to it: the names Perry Pangan, Deng Pangilinan and Bong Lacson, duly called out.

    Up close and personal with Lapid in the past – I served as his spinmeister in his 1995 and 1998 gubernatorial runs and as senior consultant on his first term – I discovered that he had (still has?) greater penchant for drama than action. Notwithstanding his patented stunts and somersaults.

    Consider his challenge to the then Vice Gov. Cielo Macapagal-Salgado and other critics on the so-called P104-million Maimpis landscam:“Sabay-sabay kaming lumuhod sa harap ng altar at bulagin sana ng Diyos ang nagsisinungaling sa amin. (We all kneel in front of the altar and may God blind whoever is lying).”

    Or his campaign spiel: “Hindi ko kailan man dudungisan ang puting lampin na ikinumot sa akin ng aking nanay nang ako ay isilang. (I will never soil the white blanket (of purity) that my mother covered me with when I was born).”

    True to dramatic form, Lapid now: “Wala kaming sinaktan na sinuman. Tanging hangad namin ay makapaglingkod sa aming mga kababayan. (We (he and son Mark) did not hurt anyone. Our only wish is to be left alone to serve our people).”

    Wish that may be ungranted there. Gov. Eddie T. Panlilio has challenged Lapid father and son to explain to Kapampangans the “missing” P568-million lahar quarry funds during their 12 years at the helm of the Capitol.

    Reported Ding: “Panlilio also vowed to pursue the plunder charges he filed earlier this year against Lapid and his son Mark who had been Pampanga governor from 2004 to 2007.

    The charges were based on allegations that they enriched themselves from the provincial government’s lahar quarrying operations.”

    “I will definitely pursue the case either as a public official or a private citizen,” Panlilio vowed.

    With the protagonists already cast even as the script is still evolving, Ang Pagbabalik 2010 is one movie worth watching.

    AN UNRETURNED comeback – in the Redford context – it was for Lapid, galloping back to Senate at the re-entry of Lilia “Nanay Baby” Pineda into the gubernatorial contest.

    Subsequently affirming the Commission on Elections’ decision on her electoral protest by burying Panlilio in an avalanche of some 300,000 votes.

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