By Raïssa Robles
Billy Esposo went home from the hospital to die, his sister Carol had earlier told me.
I could not write it because Billy might read it and lose his hope for living. I prayed that by some miracle he would again pull through.
Even Billy knew his time was running out.
It was a life well spent.
Billy was the Marketing Man who used his talents and skill to help change the Philippine political landscape twice.
The first time was when he helped package a housewife and widow into a presidential candidate to challenge the dictator Ferdinand Marcos mano-a-mano.
It was for this reason that another woman who wanted to become President had asked Billy to repackage her. Here is an excerpt from a piece that I wrote earlier describing that incident:
Marketing man, William “Billy” Esposo, recalled how he helped position the brand “Cory” as the exact opposite of Marcos. He turned her being a housewife with no government experience into a distinct advantage – she had no experience in stealing.
In the case of Mrs. Arroyo, she topped the senatorial race in 1995 by selling herself to voters as the look-alike of rags-to-fame actress Nora Aunor. Her resounding victory convinced her husband and mother, former First Lady Evangelina Macapagal, that she was presidential material.
The family turned to Mr. Esposo for help. He agreed, declined to be paid and told Mrs. Arroyo, “I believe you have the best chance of derailing” the actor Estrada.
His intuitive assessment then was: “She can appeal to the same crowd that goes for showbiz types because of the la Aunor thing that made her number one. Compared to Estrada, Gloria had credentials, had better qualifications, and being a woman provided a contrast that could somehow be beneficial.”
But his efforts and image building of her ran aground early on. The three heroes of people power declined to back her. Outgoing president Ramos preferred to endorse his province mate, House Speaker Jose de Venecia.
Catholic Archbishop of Manila Cardinal Jaime Sin made sexist remarks. “What would you do when there is a coup d’etat? Cry? I am not against women but with the problems of the country, like criminality, I think we should give the leadership to a man.”
The most revealing reaction, though, came from another woman – Mrs. Aquino. She declined to back Mrs. Arroyo despite the personal prodding of her brother Congressman Jose “Peping” Cojuangco, Philippine Star columnist Teodoro Benigno and Pastor “Boy” Saycon.
I asked three separate sources why. One quoted Mrs. Aquino as telling the three – “I find her too pragmatic. She will do anything to gain the presidency.”
Another quoted her as saying she’s “too pragmatic for her own good.”
A third, Mr. Esposo, confirmed hearing that was what transpired in the meeting. He also revealed that right before the three met with Mrs. Aquino, he had a private chat with the former president about the political situation, whether an Estrada victory meant a Marcos restoration, and “to feel out what she feels about Gloria.”
Mrs. Aquino’s only comment on the presidential hopeful was – “don’t you find her too pragmatic?”
It was this very trait that caused Esposo to quit the Arroyo campaign. His disillusionment started when Senator Arroyo paid a post-midnight visit to a jailed congressman who was on trial for raping an 11-year-old.
“We were shocked when she paid a visit to Romy Jalosjos. One of your (political) strengths is that you are a woman, Teddy (Benigno) and I were telling her. You are supposed to be very sensitive to women issues.”
One of Mrs. Arroyo’s justifications then was that the lawmaker was not yet convicted. When she became Vice-President and head of the Department of Social Welfare, however, Mrs. Arroyo suddenly became a champion of sexually abused children. She even joined a street protest to pressure Supreme Court to lift a six-month stay of execution on convicted child rapist Leo Echegaray. He was later put to death by lethal injection.
After Mrs. Arroyo won last year’s presidential race, her justice secretary hinted she would grant Jalosjos – who was serving two life terms – a presidential pardon. I can only surmise why Mrs. Arroyo treated both men differently. Was it because Echegaray was dirt poor, while Jalosjos has money and political clout? His clan had carried Mrs. Arroyo to victory in his bailiwick last year.
Her Jalosjos visit, Mr. Esposo claimed, showed that “she seems to have very loose moorings. To her, everything is expedient. That bothered me. These were insights of a character that given pressure and a bigger theater is going to be more pronounced.” The flaw was not gender-based, he added.
I have felt the same misgivings. Before becoming president, she had blamed the old “politics of personality and patronage…(as) a structural part of the problem of poverty” and championed “new politics”.
I thought new politics meant not fielding for office one’s own son, entrenched warlords or a newsreader whose main qualification was popularity. I was wrong.
Apparently aware of such criticisms, Mrs. Arroyo told a recent foreign investors’ forum: “But let me also be very clear, I’m also a realist.”
She has of course her own set of admirers. Cabinet officials swear by her work ethic and her deep concern for the nation’s welfare.
Rodney Ward, chairman for Asia of the Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS), expressed optimism she would ultimately succeed just like Britain’s longest-serving and first woman prime minister.
“Margaret Thatcher was for a lot long time very unpopular when she was going through all these programs but ultimately ended up being very popular,” he told me. “By the time she came to the end of her reign, the good things had come through which initially were painful and had aroused deep hostility.”
The second highly successful repackaging that Billy Esposo did had to do with Luis “Chavit” Singson, Billy disclosed to me in one of my lengthy interviews with him. For instance, Billy told the highly controversial governor to always wear white in public as he accused then Philippine President Joseph Estrada of the most heinous crime, even if Singson himself was a willing participant to the same crime.
By the way, it’s interesting to note that Philippine Star has lost its very prominent and influential political columnists: Louie Beltran, Art Borjal, Teddy Benigno, Max Soliven and now Billy Esposo.
I grieve for Billy’s passing but at the same time take comfort in the way he lived – maximally and with an eye to the welfare of his country. I will miss exchanging political gossip and ideas with him.
* * * *
Before Billy died, Rosalie Mendoza, wife of one of my former Business Day newspaper colleagues died of cancer. I never met her but her husband, University of the Philippines political science professor Amado “Bong” Mendoza, told me about her.
As the months wore on, I tracked her illness through Bong’s postings on Facebook. Bong is one of the survivors of Marcos’ torture cells. Rosalie suffered through his incarceration.
Her body now lies in state at St. Peter’s Memorial Chapels, Quezon Ave. corner Sct. Chuatuco (entrance to Roxas District). But visits will start at 11 am tomorrow April 8, 2013 because Bong wants to be with her alone tonight.
* * * *
I would also like to condole with the family of the late human rights lawyer Procopio Beltran who was with the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and Task Force Detainees of the Philippines.
I guess I have a special sympathy for lawyers who devote their time, effort and money helping others whom they know cannot ever repay them with a lot of money.
They’ve left us to carry on.
Will surely miss Mr. Blly’s column in PhilStar. He’s the only reason why I visit PhilStar in the internet. May you rest in peace.
john c. jacinto says
Isang pagpupugay para sa isang magaling at makabayang kolumnista na si Bill Esposo!
Many years ago, even before his column existed, Billy actually wrecked my sister’s dental chair! That didn’t prevent her from declaring “Mr. Esposo” as her favorite patient because of his wit, shining personality and kindness.
I always looked forward to his courageous and profound discussion of important national and international issues to provide finnese to my own analysis of the same issues. I think it would take me a long time before I could find someone of his caliber whom I could lean on to crystallize my thoughts on many significant issues. And it did not matter if I conccured to or opposed his ideas, although a majority of his opinions jibed with mine. But in several instances I sorely needed Billy’s inputs to complete mine regardless whether I agreed or not with him. Farewell to Billy, my virtual mentor.
A commenter named @Tricia has just asked me if I would write a glowing piece on Rigoberto Tiglao “when Bobi Tiglao passes away”. OUr exchange can be seen at #14.
Here’s my latest reply to Tricia:
But dear, I HAVE written about Bobi. YOu’re not just looking. Here, read these:
Today was not the first time I wrote on ex-Ambassador Rigoberto Tiglao
Ambassador to Greece Rigoberto Tiglao has e-mailed me a nasty reply
Rigoberto Tiglao: Super-Fraud
Our political ambassadors to Athens & Canberra swiftly update their embassy websites to show President Noy
Our political envoys in Athens, Madrid, Riyadh & Canberra are snubbing Noynoy as THE President; So why the heck were their apptments extended?
Did non-Senator Migz “Kadiri” Zubiri lie about not vacationing for 15 years?
andrew lim says
Bobi Tiglao’s integrity “passed away” a long time ago, ahead of his physical body. :) He has also “passed away” from the Inquirer and went into the unknown and little-read Manila Times. :)
You’re deviating from my core question. This is not about Tigalao. My question was about Billy Esposo. As a journalist, I assumed that you are privy to the lives of people. As you yourself wrote, Esposo was a Marketing man and “made” 2 presidents. As a Marketing man, and a columnist at the Philstar, many believe what he writes. My friend at the Palace said to be wary of what he writes, and considering that Esposo’s rooting for the man at the Palace, I guess it was safe to say that Esposo will write ONLY good things about PNoy’s presidency. That’s all.
Why is it that if a “journalist” only writes good things about Malacanang, (or the opposite, and only attacks) he’s considered a paid hack, like Tigalao, who only praises GMA, so, why is Esposo any different?
This is the first time I commented on a topic, and you can be assured it’s my last. I didn’t realize you get attacked when I disagree with you. Is this the kind of community you want? The hapless commenter who has a different opinion gets the ire of the lynching mob?
YOur original question was, would I write about Tiglao when he dies.
And that’s what I answered.
Your question now is different –
That’s a different question.
And I’m not the person to answer it. First of all, I never considered Tiglao “a paid hack”. It’s you saying it. I think Bobi is really really close friends with GMa. Their closeness goes back a long, long way.
And why are you asking me these questions. I’m not responsible for what they both write.
Also you said –
You are quite mistaken. The others are only expressing their own opinions. They are free to express their own opinions. You should read them when they disagree with me.
What I’m saying is – if you can dish you, you also have to be prepared to take it.
This is what Cyber Plaza Miranda is all about. You give your ideas. You defend them, even when others disagree with you quite vehemently.
I respect you, and what saddened me was you chose to see what you wanted to see, making this about Bobi Tiglao. I wrote in my original comment in detail why I felt Esposo wasn’t a journalist, but a marketing man, going as far as revealing that a friend who works in the palace told me to be wary of his “PR pieces”. I ended my comment with “would you write a glowing piece on Bobi if he passes away” because I see the similarity between the two. The only downside of Tiglao is that he’s rooting for GMA, while Esposo is rooting for PNoy. Nevertheless, both made the 2 president and use their respective columns for their PR. It’s sad when people have double standards and see Tiglao as evil because he roots for GMA, while Esposo’s an angel because he roots for the “good one”– PNoy. Let’s not apply double standard and think it’s okay because Esposo’s rooting for the our boy. As the saying goes, we don’t care if he’s a sonovabitch, so long as he’s OUR sonovabitch.
Funny you say that you, and I quote: “First of all, I never considered Tiglao “a paid hack”. It’s you saying it. ”
when in the piece you just linked to me, http://raissarobles.com/2011/08/25/rigoberto-tiglao-super-fraud/
“Rigoberto Tiglao, you should be ashamed of yourself. You think you’re still a journalist but you’re not. You’re just a hack.”
See last sentence? You’re just a hack.
I can take it, but I don’t like it when my comments are taken out of context, and people focus on the wrong message of my comment. This was not about Tiglao, and I was not defending him as the commenters insinuated, one even going as far as saying I was Bobi. I was merely making the comparison.
“Why is it that if a ‘journalist’ only writes good things about Malacanang, (or the opposite, and only attacks) he’s considered a paid hack, like Tiglao, who only praises GMA, so, why is Esposo any different? (he writes only good things about PNoy”
Nevertheless, I said my piece. Thanks anyway.
Do you know how to read English?
It’s true I wrote about Bobie: “You think you’re still a journalist but you’re not. You’re just a hack.”
I didn’t say he was a PAID HACK.
See the difference in meaning an adjective can make?
Just to make things very very clear, I believe Bobie, whom I used to super-admire very much, is now just a hack.
But he’s not being paid to do it.
Because he really, really likes GMA. And I’m not insinuating anything by saying that. He just likes her. Period.
I wrote a long comment to reply to you, I wonder if it went through?
I was busy, you see, paying my income tax.
I guess it didn’t.
And I’m not the person to answer it. First of all, I never considered Tiglao “a paid hack”. It’s you saying it.
YET in the link you sent me: http://raissarobles.com/2011/08/25/rigoberto-tiglao-super-fraud/
Rigoberto Tiglao, you should be ashamed of yourself. You think you’re still a journalist but you’re not. You’re just a hack.
Who’s contradicting herself now?
I see. When I attach a link, it doesn’t go through.
It does, but Akismet automatically moderates it.
It’s to protect the site.
You said : “I didn’t realize you get attacked when I disagree with you.”
You were not attacked because you disagreed with Raissa. People took offense at your comment disparaging the deceased.
Most of us would have been taught to respect the dead by parents trying to raise decent human beings. Clearly, not all parents succeed in this regard.
By your logic, then Alan Robles, the hubby of Raissa, and the rest of the Filipinos who call the late President Marcos a thief, a hustler, a dictator, a killer, after Marcos died has no respect by disparaging the deceased. Correct?
Raissa herself called Esposo a Marketing Man who made 2 presidents. Many call him a journalist because of his column at one of the largest newspapers in the country, Philippine Star.
I put value to the term “journalist”, who are out to seek the truth and report facts.
A “paid hack” writes for his vested interests. He “made” PNoy, as such, during the hostage crisis, and during PNoy’s first 2 years when people were disapointed with his lackluster performance, Esposo still chose to see the glowing side of PNoy, when it called for really journalists to write the truth about him.
Only insecure people with no regard for the truth get hurt when the facts are laid out to them instead of calling people no manners. Parents try to instill the truth to their children growing up, clearly, your parents failed to instill this in you. Regards.
Tricia, when you said this: “This is the first time I commented on a topic, and you can be assured it’s my last” — you were lying right?
Disparage Billy to your heart’s content. But can’t you wait till Billy is laid to rest? The family is still in grief. For now, please have mercy. I beg of you.
I didn’t realise you needed everything spelled out clearly before you. My bad!
I’d tell you about timing and choosing the proper forum but why bither? You clearly are committed to desecrating the memory of the man even before his body had been laid to rest.
Just know this though, all these accusations you have made here about him say more about your character than his.
I love and will miss this chair. Your penchant of telling like it is, is a thing to remember.
the man who despise philippine media for being too engrossed with nonsense issue, mostly showbiz than the china invasion when the country only know them then as the world’s imitation capital. now, its vogue to ‘hate’ china for everything they gave the world, problem and problems. Godspeed and thank you Mr. Esposo, it was a great learning experience following your columns. there’s only one i follow and take to heart the opinions i read in philstar together with ma’am raissa. ma’am, it seems to me that you’re the next ‘esposo’ of our time. :)
Sad to hear we have lost another good man. Will miss his column & opinion which I always eagerly awaitedl Good night friend, be at peace now.
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