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Monday, February 26, 2024

Enter the Dragon

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Just a bit of trivia as we welcome the Chinese New Year, which is now a holiday even in this predominantly Christian nation

I am writing this article on the eve of the Lunar New Year, when the Rabbit gives way to the Wooden Dragon.

On Thursday night, I attended the 81st birthday party of businessman and low-key billionaire Sebastian Chua, who looks like he is yet in his sixties.

Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada graced the occasion, looking hale despite his advanced age (he will turn 87 this April 19) and other political heavyweights such as Sen. Cynthia Villar and Taguig Mayor Lani Cayetano.

In our assigned table sat lady taipan Tessie Sy-Coson, former BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, former USec Karen Jimeno, billionaire Salvador Zamora, former congressmen Egay Erice and Rolex Suplico, Ms. Jullie Yap Daza whose age seems to have frozen since 20 years ago, and Philstar’s Ichu Villanueva.

And yes, not to be forgotten as he is social media’s most in-demand interviewee these days, Ronald Llamas, who has eclipsed former Duterte spokesman Harry Roque in spewing tons of political “chismis,” accompanied by his “in-depth” analysis.

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Those in our table recalled that Feb. 8 was also the birthday of the late President Noynoy Aquino. Ronald added it is also the birthday of the recently departed Joma Sison.

After a brief exchange of pleasantries with FPJEE, my mind meandered into the last days of the Year of the Dragon, when Estrada the Ox was deposed from the palace beside the then stinking river Pasig a few days before the Dragon left on Jan. 25, 2021.

Then entered the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the Pig, who thereafter ruled for close to 9 and a half years, from Jan. 21, 2021 till PNoy the Rat took over on June 30, 2010.

FPJEE took fancy on geomancers The exact time of his voting on E-Day 1998 followed the advice of a feng shui expert from Taiwan. Before he entered the voting precinct, he faced the east, and closing his eyes before the sun, silently prayed.

Many bishops of the numerous church led by the political Cardinal Sin, openly asked the “faithful” to reject him, although the INC supported him. He won overwhelmingly, trouncing his nearest rival and five other contenders for the presidency.

He did not reside in Malacanang until after the Guest House was renovated to accommodate his private office, using the main building only for ceremonial occasions.

When his friend and supporter, Chavit Singson lit the fuse of the jueteng scandal, and subsequent tumultuous events orchestrated by his detractors made his government wobbly, feng shui experts advised him on how to weather the storm.

I was present when 11 senators dined with him in his Greenhills home on Nov. 7, 2000 where they promised to vote against his impeachment when trial commenced in the Senate.

A week before, Speaker Manuel Villar sent the articles of impeachment to the Senate.

The Senate trial did not go well for Erap, and when the Senate Eleven rejected the opening of the “second envelope,” his conspirators got their supporters to mass up in the corner of Edsa and Ortigas, in a shrine built to commemorate the four historic days that led to the downfall of FM Sr.

A feng shui master advised the president to do a “substitution” in the fateful days before Jan. 21, warning him about “treacherous” actions by some men in high offices whom he trusted.

“Substitution” meant replacing all the clothes he wore on a certain day, and for his trusted guards to throw these at the mouth of the Pasig River the night before he would go to bed.

They did, though one PSG aide said he forgot to include the jacket he wore that day.

After I heard the PSG aide’s story about the missing jacket, I remembered the aphorism, “for want of a shoe, the kingdom was lost.”

On the long, long night of Jan. 20 and into the wee hours of the 21st, after his armed forces chief of staff defected, a beleaguered Erap agreed to “temporarily” leave office, but asked to postpone his departure on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

GMA’s cabal of negotiators refused, and gave him only until the morning of Jan. 21 to leave Malacanang. He left at two that afternoon.

What was so special about Jan. 25, that Erap asked for a few days reprieve even after his chief of staff along with flag officers and half his abinet had deserted him?

Midnight of Jan. 24, the Year of the Dragon would give way to the Year of the Snake.

Maybe the “kamalasan” for Erap the Ox would end?

Just a bit of trivia as we welcome the Chinese New Year, which is now a holiday even in this predominantly Christian nation.

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