June 29, 2011

Where are the presidentiables now?

Presidential candidates for the May 10, 2010 national elections, from left, Benigno Aquino III, John Carlos de los Reyes, Richard Gordon, Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas, Gilbert Teodoro, Eddie Villanueva, Manuel Villar link arms at the conclusion of the first-ever Philippine Daily Inquirer-sponsored Presidential Debate on Feb. 8, 2010 at the University of the Philippines campus at Manila's Quezon City. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

A year has passed since President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III was officially sworn in as the 15th President, besting eight other candidates with 15, 208, 678 votes.
If Aquino wasn't your bet, have you ever wondered whatever happened to the other candidates? Well, read on.

Joseph Estrada
The ousted President tried but failed to get another shot at the presidency. Nonetheless, he was able to prove he still has a lot of supporters—he came in second with over nine million votes.

Now, you would see Estrada gracing various events, visiting and giving goods to poor families.

Apart from all these, he's engaged in a new venture.

"I'm now busy going back to some things [I did] when I was a movie actor," Estrada told Yahoo! Southeast Asia in a phone interview.

No, a new movie isn't in the works. "I'm retired," he said. "I'm into build-and-sell construction, pero small time lang."

And when asked how he would rate his ex-opponent Aquino's first year performance, Estrada was quick to say: "No comment."

Nicanor Perlas
Virtually anonymous, Nicanor Perlas braved the daunting odds and went through a national campaign sans the political experience, money, and popularity.

Although he got less than a percent of the total number of votes, Perlas (who called himself the "Black Swan") did not lose hope.

"During the elections, I promised that I would continue advancing the agenda that I articulated during the presidential campaign. Together with others, that is exactly what I have been doing," Perlas said in an email interview.

Perlas said he and his friends were able to establish the Movement of Imaginals for Sustainable Societies Through Initiatives, Organizing, and Networking (MISSION), a non-partisan group aiming for various initiatives for the betterment of society.

Now, if Perlas would rate Aquino, he said the chief executive pretty much lacks presidential work ethic.

"With his tremendous political capital, Aquino could have really turned around the hope of this country already within the year, at least in terms of expectations and concrete achievements," Perlas said.

"If Noynoy is more open to constructive advice from his colleagues and others, there is enough time for him to make a turnaround. Otherwise, he will not only damage or ruin his reputation and that of his parents, but he will also bring this country into deepening crisis," he added.

Manuel Villar
This Nacionalista Party bet was (surprisingly) the first to concede to Aquino.

But before admitting defeat, he was the strong, worthy opponent; he had unforgettable campaign jingles ("Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura?") and was ahead in the surveys early on. Add to that his unexpected "support" from no other than Aquino's nephew, Baby James.

But apparently, the presidency is not his destiny.

Now he has been quietly continuing his term at the Senate and heads the Committees on Economic Affairs and Trade and Commerce. Apart from Senate tasks, Villar is busy with his 'Sagip OFW' and various other foundations, according to his media relations officer.

When asked about Aquino's first year performance, Villar's camp said the Senator "would rather not comment."

Richard Gordon
He lagged behind surveys and he didn't care at all. Instead, Gordon pushed through with a no-nonsense campaign that eventually gave him over half a million votes.

Gordon lost but has since moved on and is now juggling TV and radio hosting jobs in TV5. The feisty ex-senator still heads Philippine National Red Cross.

Gordon refused to rate Aquino's first year as President, lest he might appear "spiteful." But, in a phone interview, Gordon had this to say: "Everybody needs help in this country, especially him. He is popular but he's going down. All across the board we are behind, dapat mabilis tayo [we should move fast]."

JC Delos Reyes
Ang Kapatiran candidate JC Delos Reyes's campaign was hinged on a new look at politics, one that is from the traditional political wooing.

But the country appeared unready for the transformational politics he was pushing and this brought Delos Reyes to the bottom of the poll results. Now, he is making up for the time politics took away.

"I lost so much time attending to my family. Now, this is my time. I'm just an ordinary guy trying to attending to my business," Delos Reyes said in a phone interview.

His heart is still on public service though and he's currently building a church in Makati, through his brick manufacturing business. He is also part of the Intramuros Tourism council.

And if Delos Reyes would rate Aquino, he would give him a "failing grade."

"I would rate him just as the ordinary man in the street. I'll give him a failing grade. Not much substantial reform," he said. "He does unnecessary bickering when he could take note of it and solve the problem. There's favoritism in the Cabinet, there's much blaming on the past admin. I would rather [that] he [exercise] quiet diligence and just prosecute."

Gilberto Teodoro
Looks and wits failed to bring him to power, thanks to an endorsement by former and highly unpopular president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Despite having the best credentials, Teodoro lost his presidential bid to his second cousin, Noynoy.

He underwent a gallbladder operation weeks after the election.

According to his camp, he's now on vacation in the U.S., living the life of a private citizen. He's also busy with his business ventures.

Today, several social networking groups continue to clamor for his 2013 Senate candidacy.
(Related story: "This pilot wants to fly high")

Maria Ana Consuelo "Jamby" Madrigal
The only lady candidate in the 2010 polls, Madrigal hoped to be the country's next "truly elected Filipina president."

'Girl power' did not do well and she only got some 46,000 votes, a far number from the time she won as Senator in the 2004 polls. Her Senate term ended last year.

Although Madrigal is now out of the limelight, she continues some of her advocacies.

"I continue my advocacies for women, childen and the environment. We are studying and exploring new socio-economic models for social welfare and development to redound to wealth creation for all levels of society," Madrigal said in a statement sent to Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

Madrigal also refused to judge Aquino's first year and instead called for unity.

"What the country needs now is a united effort for the collective good," she said.

Bro. Eddie Villanueva
Evangelist Eddie Villanueva sought presidency with a platform on fear of God and love for country. Although he's no politician, Villanueva isn't new to politics with a 2004 presidential polls experience.

Villanueva lost his second bid for the presidency but he says this did not deter him from pushing his advocacies.

"It was not life as usual after the elections as I became even more passionate about my personal crusades and advocacies. The passion doubled," Villanueva said in an email interview.

"During the campaign period, I saw more of our fellow Filipinos living in abject poverty. After the elections, even without a title in the government, I worked doubly hard to help the poor improve their situation," said Villanueva, noting that he has further strengthened Jesus is Lord Church, which now has chapters in 45 countries across the world.

Meanwhile, he only has good things to say about his former opponent.

"President Aquino has shown his firmness as a leader. He knows the policies he wanted and he exercises strong leadership to make sure his policies are implemented," said Villanueva, as he cited Aquino's firm stand on the postponement of the barangay elections.

"With a good start and hopefully a good ending, we need to support President Aquino for his administration to succeed," he added.

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