Forever and eternal

Forever & eternal
HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 30, 2010 12:00 AM

May apo na po sila: Boboy Garrovillo, Danny Javier and the author Jim Paredes

Last night, the APO per-formed its last concert at the Music Museum. I am, however, writing this three days before our last three concerts are actually happening on May 27 to 29.

When I think of 41 years of my life coming to a close forever, I alternate between calm anticipation of a new future and an inordinate fear that scares the daylights out of me.

It is scary to imagine something that has defined my life for so long, ending. Even if I am adult enough to grasp it intellectually, accepting it is something else. What is unsettling is the finality of endings. When something is no more, it stays that way for good. From here on, APO will not be anymore. And that is not an easy concept to fully understand, much less live with, for me at least. It can be unnerving when something comfortable that one has identified with for decades suddenly stops being.

To feel better, I think of all the changes and transitions in my life that I have managed to cross successfully. I also think of people I know or strangers whose lives I have only heard or read about, who have gone through bad stuff that have altered their lives permanently, like losing limbs, loved ones, social standing, wealth, health, freedom, etc.

It is really sad to realize that we often feel better about our lot only when we realize that other people are suffering more than we are. There is something selfish and sadistic about it. It is harsh but, “whatever gets you through the night is alright,” as John Lennon wrote in a song, works for most of us.

I recall an epiphany I experienced some years back where I think I caught a glimpse of the difference between the experience of something that is forever and something that is eternal.

Forever deals with time, its ravages and earthly consequences. When one is sentenced to life imprisonment, for example, it means that all the time allotted to one’s life will, from here on, be spent behind bars, in a state of banishment, literally trapped in the field of time in the confines of a limited space. Forever can be a punishing experience, for time running out literally ends in death. Death is the only escape from forever.

Nothing lasts forever, as they say. And depending on whether you are having a pleasant time or an unpleasant one, that can be a good or a bad thing.

Eternity, on the other hand, is an experience that is outside the field of time, even if, strangely, it happens within it. That’s because contrary to many religious misconceptions, eternity can be experienced even within one’s mortal existence. As we live out our lives, there are moments that seem different from others, when we feel that our reality has been altered and has somehow “opened us up.” We awaken to something borderless and boundless, and lo and behold, we see that we are THAT. We are the borderless and the boundless! No beginning and no end. We have awakened to something outside the field of time and space. We have experienced something eternal.

There are those who have talked or written about such an experience of “altered reality.” In my own limited experience, I know that this is not altered reality. I believe it is the true reality.

I can say that every time I am absorbed 100 percent with what I am doing, or when I lose track of time because I am engaged in an activity that involves all of me, I am experiencing the eternal. William Blake pretty much summed it up when he wrote about experiencing “eternity in an hour.”

I have been in such moments while doing concerts and other activities involving music with friends. There have also been times when I am writing, or doing my meditative sits that have felt timeless.

Does this mean that every time you lose track of time, you are on eternity mode? Not quite. The mark of an eternal experience is focused mindfulness — that you become one with what you are doing. There is no doer separate from the action. All is one.

As APO ends and I begin a new chapter in my life, I ask myself, how does one deal with something beautiful that comes to an end? How does one forget? Should one forget? How does one move on in life and resist living in the past? How do I proceed with my life in the best way?

These are good, honest questions that point me not only to new directions and interests that will help me move on, but to spiritual undertakings as well. The spiritual lessons are many. One is something I picked up from Eckart Tolle who tells us to live in the now. By now, he means wherever and whatever now is. Without our projections of past and future, now is always pristine, fresh and beautiful. I must remember that the present going to the future is a series of now points. In fact, it is always now.

Here are some good things I must also remember:

The past, no matter how beautiful, can feel like baggage sooner or later. There is a time in life for certain things and a time for others. There are beginnings and endings. It’s just the way it is and it is best to come to terms with that sooner than later.

It is good to remember that in our life’s journey, it is best to travel light. No regrets. No living in the past. And no overly concern for the future. It will unfold as it unfolds. When we do this, timeless moments are most likely to happen.

I still have some good years in this field of time and space called life. I will not stop making music, or stop doing things that bring me joy. I hope I can spend a lot of them in eternity.

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I have three upcoming workshops:

1) Basic Photography Workshop in QC on June 12, 1 to 7 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P3,500

2) Basic Photography Workshop at White Sands Resort, Cebu on June 19, 1 to 7 p.m. Call Shirley at 0917-6207424. Cost: P3,750.

3) Tapping the Creative Universe, June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Please call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P5,000. Visit \t “_blank” for the syllabus and FAQ.

Silencing for equanimity

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 23, 2010 12:00 AM


I am trying to decompress from all the consuming thoughts, projections, scenarios and feelings that the collective political fever has visited upon us these past few months. While I still check the Internet several times a day to see if the vice presidential race has been decided with finality, I am slowly loosening my grip and focus on the electoral standing and situation of my candidate.

“Que sera, sera, whatever will be will be,” as the song goes. If I were a sea captain, I now would be slowly but consciously navigating out of these turbulent waters and forcibly steering my ship into a direction that is less stressful, more placid.

After reading a review of three books about silence a few hours ago, I thought that silence would be a good topic to write about, as I try to regain some of my equanimity. Of late and often, I have been just a hairline away from flying off the handle. I need some silence and centering after the political turbulence that we have just been through.

In the morning, when I do my meditation sit, I try to notice what is happening around me. It is an act of being present, or cognizant of the different things and events that are playing out within my sensory field. The birds are chirping incessantly. The electric fan is whirring. There is a distant sound of a dog barking. There are also crickets humming constantly. The sun’s rays enter through my window. I often ask mentally if that produces a sound or vibration, however inaudible to my human faculties. Bursts of hot wind ruffle the blinds softly.

It is such a calming experience to just be in “noticing” mode. Things are arising in the world. I am not trying to judge, much less change anything. Things are merely unfolding and I am noticing them as they do. What a great feeling.

After a few minutes, I notice a palpable silencing happening in my body. Physically, my body is calmed down, and seems to have found equilibrium. I am sitting in a lotus position, and my hands are in mudra stance where the fingers on my left hand are over the fingers on my right palm and my thumbs are meeting. My breathing is slow but deliberate and it is getting even shallower as I notice that I am breathing less. There is hardly any effort in my breathing now even as I notice my lungs taking in less and less air as the minutes go by. My heartbeat is almost unnoticeable. It feels great knowing that I am not clinging to anything, not even to oxygen.

The sounds of the outer world begin to fall away from my realm of concerns. The louder noises are now playing in my mind. These are thoughts that seem to act on their own and suddenly crash in, much like remembering an urgent “to-do” item that suddenly jolts my consciousness.

It can be jarring. I notice that most of the time my mind controls me, and not the other way around. But soon, even something that seems urgent like an important “to-do” loses its pull and becomes just another phenomenon arising in the space of my mind laying its claim as something to be concerned about.

A few more minutes pass by. The struggle against more thoughts trying to capture my attention continues. I remind myself that I must not resist them, nor get sucked in, but merely observe them. Soon, I find myself watching a stream of thoughts come and go like clouds passing. I notice them but am not moved in any way. I notice that I am in pure observer status. They make no claims on me, or vice-versa.

Soon enough, a spaciousness is created. My mind seems like the open sky — bright, clear and endless. Some thoughts still pass but like clouds they do not leave a mark. There is a vastness, and it is alive and awake to itself like a shimmering crystal.

At this point, silence bares itself as the witness to the noises made by the outer and inner worlds. One could even say that the silence has made itself noticeable. And it becomes prominent because the noise or thoughts do not matter anymore. The background of silence has now become the foreground for everything.

Silent moments bring lucidity. They allow things to arise, including thoughts, issues and concerns, but one has the unique perspective of not being attached. And when we do not identify with sides and outcomes, we see things in a clearer way.

And often, another remarkable thing occurs: compassion can arise. We relinquish the need to judge, punish, attack or defend. One might say that we are coming from our true, free selves. This is our essential self that is whole and does not need anything or anyone to feel complete. This is freedom and it feels like home.

But after meditation, as we go out into the world, the push and pull of concerns resumes with the same ferocity. That’s why it is crucial to have periods of silence.

Some meditation schools of thought define equanimity as akin to muscle building. One has to build up a reservoir of it through practice in order to walk unaffected through the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune. Sometimes I wonder whether nations and societies should be practicing meditation in order to chart mankind’s evolutionary trajectory into a place that is more peaceful and conscious.

I have often marveled at how the Dalai Lama and the Tibetans can be so placid and relatively peaceful in the face of China’s brutal actions against their people and traditions. They must be blessed with a generous supply of equanimity.

May I suggest that all electoral candidates and their followers work at attaining equanimity. It is a most effective way for both winners and losers to maintain their dignity after the results are announced.

* * *

I have three upcoming workshops:

1) Basic Photography Workshop in QC on June 12, 1 to 7 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P3,500

2) Basic Photography Workshop at White Sands Resort, Cebu on June 19, 1 to 7 p.m. Please call Shirley at 0917-6207424. Cost: P3,750.

3) Tapping the Creative Universe, June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 and 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Please call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P5,000. Visit for the syllabus and FAQ.

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For reservations, questions please write to

The return of people power

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 16, 2010 12:00 AM

Illustration by REY RIVERA

I think we can all agree that what just transpired in our country is something many of us will remember for a long time. What a campaign it was! And what an election!

It’s a few days after May 10 and I am still reeling from the unfolding of events. Who would have thought that two days after elections, we would already know who the majority of the winners are. The surprise (and delight) that Comelec’s first attempt at automation pulled on us was quite spectacular. As cynics like to say, “Onli in Da Pilipins.” Indeed, except this time, the phrase took on a whole new meaning.

After all, it was just days ago when, as things were getting closer to D-Day, it seemed that everything that could possibly go wrong was going wrong. The PCOS machines were misreading ballots during testing, the CF cards had to be reprogrammed en masse, and there was hardly no time left to rectify the many problems that were cropping up. People were asking for a delay in the elections because they feared cheating, or a failure of elections caused by massive ineptitude of Comelec. No one trusted the machines and the people running them.

And because of what seemed like impending anarchy, people felt a gut-wrenching sensation in the pit of their stomachs. We were anxious. Paranoia, caused by years of trying to second-guess GMA, had long set in and was beginning to play out, and you could see this as various doomsday scenarios were bandied about. It seemed like we were once again being challenged to step up to a bad situation. We were being asked to fight for our votes once again which meant going the extra 10 miles of guarding our ballots from voting to proclamation. It was a call to arms all over again, not unlike EDSA I. We had not learned a thing.

The long lines on election day due to the clustering of precincts seemed like a recipe for disaster and disenfranchisement. To be sure, there were some who abandoned the long lines after a long wait. Yet, by and large, throngs of people stayed in line for hours and did their civic duty and voted.

But the discomfort of having to line up under the sun, along with some of the anxiety, were eased somewhat once voters had their taste of electoral automation. I heard a lot of people express joy and satisfaction at reading the “Congratulations. Your ballot has been accepted” message on the PCOS machine. It felt like an award after all that queuing, and the months of soul-searching and campaigning before we even trooped to the polls. It was also an exhilarating feeling, being part of a historic new way by which we choose our leaders.

There was likewise a spiritual aspect to this year’s electoral exercise as far as many people were concerned, and it went beyond the usual admonition we got from the church to choose wisely. It had to do with the fact that people went out of their way to vote, feeling that their singular action was part of something huge that would shape the direction of the country in the coming years. It was like each one of us, even if we were not united behind one candidate, was invested emotionally and spiritually with everyone else. We were one people doing something that could be tangibly counted and measured.

Certainly, we all played a part in history unfolding. Even after I learned when I got to my precinct that I had been de-listed as a voter (although just a few months before, I was informed online that I was registered), I insisted on lining up and being one with everyone else in suffering the heat and discomfort. I wanted to feel the spirit of the nation animated by its people queuing up, candidates’ list in hand, to get a shot at changing our country.

It was not your regular run-of-the-mill election. Voters, at least as far as choosing their president, seemed more serious than usual. To be sure, the presidential candidates went through a vetting process that was more stringent than usual before voters made their final choices.

The campaign was long and contentious and it seemed like the closer we got to May 11, the more we got emotionally involved with our choices. Everyone had a strong opinion that they expressed at a drop of a hat. Some friends who used to be apolitical and actually detested politics were all of a sudden fired up and ready to proselytize and convert people whom they thought were still unenlightened about their candidate’s good leadership qualities. Everyone and his mother became political pundits and analysts and were up to speed on the latest surveys, the endorsements received by their candidates, and could readily defend them against the latest scandals.

Social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook teemed with political content. A lot of exchanges which started off friendly enough got progressively testy to downright hostile. I caught myself in a few Twitter “skirmishes” a few times. No doubt, many people staked a lot personally on their candidates.

Not a few saw this election as a battle between good and evil. I saw it as the historical continuation of 1986 playing out with a lot of the same EDSA themes of deliverance from bad leadership, corruption, potential dictatorship and bad governance.

And there was also the unmistakable presence of Tita Cory from the start of the campaign and all through it. It began with her death which plunged the nation into mourning and in the process propelled her son into the national spotlight. Noy’s opponent, Erap Estrada, used footage of Tita Cory in his TV ads. So did Jejomar Binay who ran with Estrada but projected himself as a loyal yellow warrior who had been with Cory from the start. And remarkably, almost everyone who invoked Cory’s name did rather well.

Last Monday’s exercise was a rematch between the perennial forces of greed, duplicity and evil that continue to haunt our public life, and those who continue to believe in the ideals of justice, fairness, decency and change that people power espoused when we drove Marcos away 24 years ago. Both sides won some and lost some.

Noy’s landslide win was, to me, an affirmation of people power. Noy declared that his entire electoral effort was a people’s campaign. This is so true. Ordinary people spent their own money on tarps, stickers, baller IDs and other campaign paraphernalia, and volunteered time and resources to convince their neighbors to vote for Noy.

Actually, regardless of whom you voted for, in many ways, the election was people power playing out. Because people showed up, and as long as their votes came from a yearning for a higher experience of what we can be as Filipinos and as a nation, it was an expression of people power. And no doubt, many did just that, coming from a common place of good intentions hoping for our nation’s true deliverance.

The call now is for people power to go beyond the electoral process and into the bigger arena of institutionalizing decency, efficiency and dedication to public service. This is the harder part. But if we could be as spirited about supporting our candidates as they embark on the difficult task of governance, as we were in supporting their campaigns, it should not be difficult to get them to walk their talk and deliver on the lofty promises they made to get us to elect them.

We now know that people power lives. This time, let us use it to express our desire for change and sustain our democratic gains.

* * *

I have three workshops to announce:

1) Basic Photography Workshop in QC on June 12, 1 to 7 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P3,500

2) Basic Photography Workshop at White Sands Resort, Cebu on June 19, 1 to 7 p.m. Please call Shirley at 0917-6207424. Cost: P3,750.

3) Tapping the Creative Universe from June 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 28 from 7 to 9 p.m. at 113 B. Gonzales, Loyola Heights, QC. Please call Ollie at 0916-8554303. Cost: P5,000.

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For reservations, questions please write to

A compact with winners–and losers

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 09, 2010 12:00 AM

Granted that the PCOS machines work and the votes are counted honestly, it will be a historic and a happy exercise that we will go through as a nation when we troop to the polls tomorrow. Elections are supposed to be about renewal. So, in spite of the partisanship and divisiveness that the campaign has brought, I hope that we will have the wisdom to respect the outcome of the elections. If we pull through this with little or no incident, it will show that we have moved to a higher level in our journey towards democracy.

We have heard enough from the candidates to decide whom among them we want to lead us for the next six years. And although we have been surveyed, and many of us have attended various symposia and rallies to shed light on the stand of candidates on the issues, there are still people who remain undecided. Whoever it is we intend to vote for, and whatever the outcome, please read on and consider my suggestions.

Promises have been made in this campaign and we should call on the candidates to fulfill them. Whoever wins, I suggest we come up with a collective compact articulating what we expect from our elected officials. And to be fair, it should also include a list of what they can expect from us. In essence, these are what I would include in such a compact:

As our elected officials, we expect the following from you:

1) That you will behave with dignity and integrity and with the country’s interest in mind at all times during your tenure in office.

2) That you will not steal, period. Not from government coffers, not from private businessmen, not from anybody.

3) That you will be bold and creative in confronting our problems and solve them in the best ways possible to benefit the majority, even if it means going against the interests of a powerful few who may be disadvantaged by your decisions.

4) That you will find unacceptable the status quo which has so many of our countrymen mired in poverty without access to basic services such as education and health, livelihood and upward mobility, and that you will do something about it.

5) That you will at all times be true to the democratic ideals of freedom and human rights and encourage that these be exercised, not in a licentious way but in a responsible manner that will release governance from gridlock and allow us to move forward.

6) That, in the exercise of your duties and in your personal affairs, you will make decisions and promote practices that inspire us to always think of the interests of the collective before those of the individual.

7) That you will alter the trajectory of our recent history toward the direction of more democracy, prosperity and modernity, and make sure this trajectory is irreversible by the time you leave office.

8) That the state alone shall be allowed to monopolize all firearms, and all forms of military might, and that these will be used only to protect our citizens and maintain law and order without sacrificing our democratic ideals.

9) That you will maintain constant dialogue with the citizens of the republic.

10) That you will make us proud to be citizens of our country.

In return, we citizens promise that:

1) We will perform our duties and responsibilities such as paying taxes and following the law not perfunctorily but with commitment and enthusiasm.

2) That we will vigorously express our disapproval and not allow you any leeway when we see you or anyone in your government breaking the law.

3) That we will compliment and support you when we see that you are doing a good job.

4) That we will raise the bar of honesty in our personal lives and in all our dealings, including the pursuit of livelihood.

5) That we reject mediocrity and expect the best from ourselves, our leaders and our government.

6) That we will, at all times, be proud to be Filipinos and we will translate this from a mere slogan to standards of behavior that are truly world-class.

7) That we will commit to do volunteer work, help NGOs that are doing good, and support government in pursuit of its projects.

8) That, if need be, we are willing to make sacrifices for a better, more equitable future for every Filipino.

In addition, I suggest the following separate compact for the majority of candidates who will lose in the election:

As candidates involved in the democratic exercise of elections, granted that the elections were conducted properly and honestly, we promise:

1) To accept the results of the elections in all humility, granted that the elections are generally perceived to be honest and reflective of the voters’ preferences.

2) To refrain from misleading the people by calling for protest marches and other similar activities designed to exacerbate the divisions and tensions caused by the campaign.

3) To reach out and congratulate my opponents and offer the winner a helping hand in the spirit of peaceful relations and cooperation.

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I will be holding two workshops this coming June:

Basic Photography: A hands-on learning experience including familiarization with all camera functions, shooting using manual operations, and valuable tips for taking great photographs. Workshop will be on June 12 from 1 to 6:30 p.m. Cost is P3,500.

Creative for Life: A challenging creativity workshop that will unblock you and give you access to a life of joy, dynamic creativity and productivity. This workshop will jumpstart you! Sessions will be held June 21 to 25 and concluding June 27, from 7 to 9 p.m. Cost is P5,000.

Call 426-5375, or 0916-8554304 and ask for Ollie. Or send e-mail to for further inquiries and reservations.

Accentuating the positive

HUMMING IN MY UNIVERSE By Jim Paredes (The Philippine Star) Updated May 02, 2010 12:00 AM

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The mad rush is on. It’s the last week before the elections and as the ratings stand, partisans of every candidate (except Noynoy) are putting on a brave face as they explain their candidates standing and chances of winning.

Gordon has filed suit against the survey companies. Gibo was shown on TV holding a shirt with a message in green ink that said, “Hindi ako tinanong ng survey.” Erap says he has done his own survey and appears confident. Villar’s momentum has been stopped, and his numbers, as of the last survey, are on the decline. But the NP claims to be confident of winning.

One thing I have noticed is, every candidate thinks highly of surveys when the numbers show they are ahead. When they perform poorly, they negate the very idea of surveys. It’s probably an ego thing — it’s hard to accept being an also-ran when you have put in so much money and effort into campaigning.

And it’s certainly been a grueling campaign. I have never seen so much partisanship. With Twitter and Facebook and other social networking media getting into the act, the debates, arguments, black and white propaganda, endorsements and jokes just keep coming non-stop.

Meanwhile, in the backrooms of various political headquarters, vile and desperate men and women continue to hatch scenarios to alter the political landscape in favor of their candidates. Plans have been hatched and executed, some successfully while others not so, and more new plans are surely afoot with the aim of game-changing in these “last two minutes,” so to speak.

So-called psychiatric files meant to cast doubts on Noynoy’s mental state were leaked by people close to Villar. To the media’s credit, these were immediately exposed as false. Investigations into the so-called poverty of Villar have been quite devastating and may have drawn blood, if you look at the surveys. Expect more of these types of exposés and investigations until election day. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Amid all the smoke on the battlefield, I have been doing, in my own small way, an exercise to try and reverse much of the demonizing that has been going on around us. In this spirit, I have written this article in praise of each of the presidential candidates. From what I know of them personally, and what I have read about them, allow me to show you what I can like about each one, my personal choice notwithstanding. Even though I chose my candidate a long time ago, I speak truthfully here about what I think of his rivals. I will not be negative about anyone. I will leave that task to the candidates. Anyway, they probably can do that better than I can.

Manny Villar. The truth is I can identify, not with his so-called poor image, but with his middle class upbringing. I had a mother who worked really hard to support us after my father died. I know what it is like to share meager resources with nine other siblings. I admire the fact that from this relatively humble background, he has made something of himself.

Moving up the social ladder and becoming a major player in business and politics is something everyone aspires for. And Villar has done it quite spectacularly. He may have his detractors about how he did it, but regardless, Villar has made something of himself and that is admirable.

Gilbert Teodoro. He is the most eloquent candidate in presenting his platform. Gibo also seems like a decent guy. I have checked him out with some of the people he grew up with, and I have heard good things. In fact, they even dispute some stories going around the Internet that speak ill of him. I believe them. It is this, more than his so-called “galing at talino,” that impresses me. He seems to have a steely strength that translates into an equanimity I have seen in some leaders.

Joseph Estrada. I marched against him during EDSA 2. The truth is, all these years, I have looked at the Erap caricature that people despise and ridicule, more than the man. I finally met him about two years ago when we both stood as sponsors at a wedding. Actually, I was not ready for what transpired. I was utterly charmed by the man’s presence and charisma. He is very sociable, is fun to banter with, and genuinely likes people. He can make you feel invited and, if you want to, you could probably even get close to him if you wish.

Erap once said in an interview that he doesn’t hold grudges against people, even those who are against him. With the few minutes I spent with him, I tend to believe that this is true.

Eddie Villanueva. I met and had lunch with Bro. Eddie Villanueva and a few people he had invited to join his campaign. This was early in the campaign. Since he was one of the first to declare his intention to run, I did not feel inhibited about asking him pointed questions about issues like family planning, knowing very well that he was a religious man. To my surprise and delight, in the course of the conversation, I felt a kinship with his practical and no-nonsense approach to governance, his pro-poor stance, his liberal democratic inclinations and his passion to change things.

His activist idealism, which he imbibed in college, and his religion continues to fire him up to this day. Bro, Eddie is certainly a man who can inspire and lead.
Richard Gordon. I have met Dick Gordon a few times. He may have forgotten that more than 25 years ago, during a causal encounter, I mistakenly asked him how it was managing Angeles City. The man instantly morphed from a friendly demeanor to a combative one and curtly reminded me that he was from Olongapo, not Angeles.

As much as that bothered me, I also saw a man who took pride in what he had done, transforming the city he led. Dick Gordon is a man on the go, always enthusiastic and demands a lot from people. Is he a leader? Definitely! And a tough, hard-nosed one.
JC de los Reyes. What can I say about someone who is all heart, a man of great faith and a loyal and ardent servant of his church? I have not met JC personally, but I would like to sit down with him one day and listen to his thoughts about being a devout, conservative Catholic moving about in the big, bad, secular arena of a national political campaign.

His Kapatiran Party, whether or not you agree with its policies and vision, is the most ideologically pure there is in the country.
Nicky Perlas. I have known Nicky for some time. More than any candidate, I think he has the firmest grasp of environmental issues and what needs to be done about them. During the Ramos administration, I signed a petition to push his name as environment secretary. Nicky is an intellectual in the true sense of the word. He understands complexity and can situate small problems into the bigger scheme of things, and vice-versa. He could ably represent our country at meetings with say, Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela to discuss world events and issues that affect all of mankind.

Jamby Madrigal. I have never met Jamby, and it is probably my loss since some of her friends (who are also mine) speak highly of her intention to serve the people and uplift the majority from poverty. I like her hard-hitting manner in confronting her opponents. More than many politicians, she tells it like it is. And she does not back down or give up easily. That’s a positive trait that a good leader needs.

Noynoy Aquino. I was not a instant fan. The truth is, I was for Bayani Fernando at the start. When I first saw Noynoy talk, I was frankly underwhelmed by his lack of oratorical skills then. But since he is Cory and Ninoy’s son, I decided to stick around and give him the benefit of the doubt.

It was when I began to listen to him that I discovered his sensible mind. He was the first to speak courageously about the RH bill. As the campaign has progressed, he has made more and more sense regarding the different issues confronting our national life. I see a sharpness and fighting spirit in confronting his rivals and detractors. He has been the most fearless and consistent in standing up to GMA on many issues while others were silent. The most important thing about Noy is his unassailable character. I can trust him as a leader.

He is probably one of the busiest people in the Philippines these days but he always takes time to answer texts personally. I see in him an element of the servant-leader.

It might be good to get detached from our choices for a while and see all the presidential candidates as potential winners. After all, we will have to live with the election results, granted that the elections are honest and efficient. Only one of them will be our leader for the next six years. We may all need to practice acceptance if we are to continue to live in a democracy so we might as well start now.