The making of the Philippine president, 2010
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-05-30

It was Otto von Bismarck of 19th century Germany who said that: “The statesman can do nothing. He can only lie in wait and listen until amid the march of events he can hear the footsteps of God. Then he leaps forward and grasps the hem of His garment.”

This Bismarck remark crossed your Chair Wrecker’s mind when we read the contribution of STAR reader Tony Gomez of Paranaque City in the May 27 hard copy of STAR Inbox World. Tony Gomez said: “I can’t help noting that Mr. Esposo was able to accurately predict the turn of events from the time he proposed Noynoy as a candidate for president.”

Of course, I do not pretend to be some sort of a 21st century Nostradamus. Frankly, your Chair Wrecker cannot even predict what health issue will affect me on the day after tomorrow or when I will have to be confined again at the Makati Medical Center for this, that or the next thing. However, modesty aside, we did predict quite a number of major developments these past ten months – ever since we initiated the idea of a Noynoy Aquino presidency in our August 9, 2009 column (After Cory, why not Noynoy?).

As can be seen in our website (, the following political developments were among the accurate predictions of your Chair Wrecker:

1. Noynoy Aquino is the dominant brand in the 2010 presidential elections. He had led all the way. The closest it ever got was when his then nearest rival, Senator Manny Villar, came to within 2% of Aquino in February 2010.
2. Noynoy Aquino will exceed 40% in the final total vote which is what is now being shown in the Comelec (Commission on Elections) and the PPCRV-KBP (Philippine Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting-Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas) last tallies. Then third placer Joseph “Erap” Estrada will overtake Manny Villar for the 2nd spot and end up with a vote tally of around 22 to 24%. Villar will slide down to number 3 with around 18% of the votes or even less. These were predicted when Villar was still number 2 and when Noynoy Aquino could not rise again above 38%.

3. Jojo Binay will win the vice presidential race and that like Villar, Loren Legarda, Villar’s running mate for vice president, will sink to being a poor 3rd. Legarda’s slide to number 3 was predicted after the ABS-CBN televised Harapan (Face Off). Binay’s winning the vice presidency was predicted one week before the elections.

4. At a time when Villar was just 2% behind Noynoy Aquino in February and seemed headed on the road to victory, it was predicted that Villar ratings will collapse after he is systematically attacked with the right issues and on the right media. Villar had previously displayed signs of being a “weak brand” as shown by his up and down ratings before Aquino entered the presidential race.

5. Mar Roxas is a “weak brand” and this was shown by his being 4th or 5th in the presidential race, before he eventually gave way to Noynoy Aquino, and when he was eventually overtaken by Jojo Binay in the vice presidential race where he was the perceived winner up to early March 2010.

6. Estrada is also a “weak brand” in the 2010 presidential election and can not seriously threaten Noynoy Aquino. He could take votes from Villar but will never be a serious threat to Aquino. Unlike Villar, who went as high as 34%, Estrada never rated higher than 25% in the pre-election surveys.

When your Chair Wrecker was the guest of honor and speaker of the May 20 weekly meeting of the prestigious Manila Rotary Club – Asia’s first ever Rotary Club – which was held at the Manila Polo Club, we shared with the Rotarians our insights to the making of the 2010 Philippine president. We shared with them how we almost came to hearing the footsteps of God in the 1986 presidency and now in the 2010 presidency.

After Ninoy Aquino was assassinated on August 13, 1983, Napoleon Rama, a good friend and former cellmate of Ninoy when martial law was proclaimed, visited your Chair Wrecker to discuss the political fortunes of the then political opposition. Having lost their best leader, Nap was worried that nobody could pick the mantel of leadership from Ninoy.

I then told Nap: “Every crisis produces its hero. Wait for this crisis of leadership to produce a hero.” When Cory Aquino spoke at Santo Domingo Church before the historic funeral of Ninoy, I sensed that the Philippine crisis had produced its hero.

Of course, I was almost laughed off the stage every time I mentioned this. The conventional wisdom of our politicians then was to consider it a pipe dream for a woman without any previous experience in public office, in a country which had not yet elected a woman president — to aspire for the presidency. As was eventually proved, your Chair Wrecker had indeed heard the footsteps of God.

I then told the Rotarians that the 2010 political terrain was very similar to the 1983 political conditions. Our country was in a great crisis. A deep cynicism had enveloped the land. A social explosion or a civil war was very possible if the socio-economic conditions did not improve and if people continued to mistrust their leaders.

The death of Cory Aquino on August 1, 2009 ­ ­­­— in a month when major historical events tend to happen ­­­ — opened the way for the emergence of another hero which a great crisis presented. The events following Cory Aquino’s passing focused public attention on Noynoy Aquino just as the death of Ninoy in 1983 focused public attention on Cory.

Noynoy became the proverbial powerful idea whose time had come. And the rest is history.

Now, if you want to develop your capability to hear the footsteps of God – then I would suggest that you focus less on trying to second guess the future. The secret really is in the past, in history.

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It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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