As a proud grandfather to 19 and great grandfather to one, Deputy Speaker and Representative Lito Atienza of Buhay Party-List wanted to still celebrate Christmas properly.
“We are a big family. Of course, there will be a gathering but it’s going to be a more spiritual celebration,” Atienza told Manila Standard Entertainment over lunch last week.
“Christmas is going to be a lot different. Christmas is almost upon us but a lot of people still can’t feel it because of the situation we are in. Sometimes when I feel the cold wind, the soft wind blowing naiisip ko malapit na nga pala ang pasko,” the 79-year-old politician and television host said.
Amid the pandemic and economic instability, Atienza still believes that 2021 would be a better year. He wishes that more people would feel relaxed as we start to learn to live with the COVID-19 virus.
“In 2021, I wanted to see a more relaxed way of life. One, we are learning to accept that COVID-19 as part of our lives. We are not going to solve this, like the way we were unable to solve AIDS and cancer. Viruses will always be there. We just have to be more careful and more alert and with the vaccine coming, that will really give many, a great majority immunity,” Atienza shared.
Speaking in a relaxed tone and usual jovial demeanor, the former Manila mayor looks forward to spending more time with his family, friends, and acquaintances. As he becomes octogenarian in August next year, he wanted to focus on other matters outside politics. In fact, he shared with Manila Standard that he is not eyeing any political post in the 2022 elections.
“I'd like to enjoy and spend more time with you guys,” referring to the members of the entertainment press that he loves spending time with.
“I'll probably organize a coffee shop where I can invite people then we can continue the dialogue about any issues. Or maybe a talk show with Kuya Kim. What I really wanted to say, I wanted to extricate myself. In 2022, I'd be celebrating my 50th year in politics, I’ve seen and experienced enough,” he confessed.
Atienza started his political career in 1968 when he organized the Democratic Youth Movement. He was one of those who survived the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971.
During Martial Law, Atienza was arrested twice for exposing human rights abuses under the dictatorship regime of President Ferdinand Marcos at that time.
“The Plaza Miranda bombing was really my introduction to politics. For the past 48 years, I've been fighting for causes, I've been fighting against the evils in the executive, City Hall, local government, Congress, national government, medyo pagod na din ako so I am considering retiring. And enjoy life more,” he said.
But before he retires, Atienza said he and the organization he is representing have a few plans for 2021. One of them is “Pilipino Milyonaryo” or House Bill 1107 granting senior citizens who reach 101 years old P1 million.
“I want every Filipino to become a millionaire but you have to stay healthy. Presently, when someone turns 100 years old, the person receives P100,000 from the government. Now, the person needs another year to become a millionaire. So, you have to take care of your elders,” he said in jest.
While he was vocal about his exit in politics, he mentioned that 2022 will be a tough year for people who would ambition to become president.
“The field now is limited to three people—Manny Pacquiao, Sarah Duterte, and Isko Moreno. This is my opinion, okay. I like the three of them. But Manny is really close to my heart. He already told me that he’s running for president. I told him to consider it once, twice, ten times more before he makes any decision,” Atienza divulged.
“If Manny Pacquiao really runs for president, it’s going to be hard for me. He has good intentions and a vision for the nation. Other politicians run for higher office with a different agenda. If not because of Isko and Sarah, I'd be already out in the field campaigning for Manny Pacquiao. But two years is still a long time, a lot of things can still happen,” he ended.