Book 14: Touch and Go


CHAPTER 1.  Raul Manglapus, Blue Eagle the King

Part 1.  Raul Manglapus, the quintessential Atenean

            There is such thing as a Great UPian, because as a concept UP does not exist.  There are only the UP fraternities, and they are eternally at war with each other.  There are no Great Opus Dei, either, for they are all under the Spaniards, and they have no other purpose in life but to accumulate wealth and power, disdain the poor, and serve the foreigners.

            There are no Great LaSallites because there is no such thing as a LaSallite.  There are only the La Salle Mestizos, the coño boys subsidized by the Sorianos and Zobels; the La Salle Chinese who own the Philippines; and the poor LaSalle Filipinos who are left to fend for themselves; and the three are not even talking to each other. They don’t even understand each other, for one speaks Spanish, another Fokien and the other Taglish. There are two who might have been great Filipino LaSallites, Lorenzo Tañada and Jose W. Diokno, but they have never been honored as such.  The only ones so honored by the Christian Brothers are the ones who pursue wealth, like the del Rosario brothers, Concepcion twins, Danding Cojuangco and someone called Chris Concepcion before he ran off with somebody else’s money.

            The greatest Ateneans are Jose Rizal and Claro M. Recto, men of genius and Renaissance spirit.  But they were repudiated by their foreign Jesuit mentors because they were Filipino patriots.  Other great Ateneans were Horacio de la Costa and Leon Ma. Guerrero.  But Horace became more of a Jesuit than a real Atenean, and Leonie became a patriot prematurely, hitting the Americans when the Filipino people were still under the spell of Americans.  On the other hand, Emmanuelle Pelaez remained a pro-American even after we became independent.

            Only Raul Manglapus can truly be called a Great Atenean.  He was pro-American when the American Jesuits still controlled Ateneo, and became a patriot only when Filipino Jesuits took over.  The Jesuits and students of Ateneo never faltered in their admiration and support for Raul Manglapus, for in their eyes and in the eyes of many, he was the quintessential Atenean.  Every other Atenean was measured by the standards set by Raul Manglapus.  His Arrneoow accent and facility with a dozen dialects and languages was legendary.

            Raul Manglapus was my school-boy hero.  As a boy, I was there when he when he delivered his speech “Land of Bondage, Land of the Free,” lost the oratorical contest, and was publicly commended by President Quezon as the one who should have won.  I was there when he delivered his famous speech “His Excellency, Labor,” with which he won the First National Oratorical Contest.  I was there when he composed “Blue Eagle The King,” to cheer our teams to victory.  I was there when he graduated summa cum laude.

I bore witness to his incarceration and torture by the Japanese, his dramatic escape from Los Baños POW camp, his exploits as a guerrilla, and eventually, after Liberation as the only Filipino to attend the surrender ceremony of the Japanese on the Battleship Maine in Tokyo Bay.

            My wife Cecilia and I spent our first visit to Disneyland in the company of Raul and Pacing Manglapus.  I followed him wherever he led us, into Magsaysay’s Rah Rah Boys, supporting him as our youngest Foreign Affairs Secretary under Magsaysay.  When Magsaysay died, I joined him and Manahan in the latter’s failed bid for the presidency.  I was with him in the Progressive Party, and in the Grand Alliance in his quixotic bid for political recognition.        (to be continued)

Part 2.  Raul’s rivalry with Manny Pelaez

        There was a time when Raul Manglapus and Emmanuelle Pelaez, both prominent Ateneans, strode into the political arena together, sometimes in partnership, sometimes in rivalry.  Manny Pelaez was not a wartime hero as Raul Manglapus was, but during the Occupation, he spent hours at home singing “God Bless America.”  During the war, Raul Manglapus fought in Bataan, was incarcerated and tortured by the Japanese, made a dramatic escape from the Los Baños POW camp, and participated in the Liberation of Manila.

        After the war Manny Pelaez, a bar topnotcher, became a special prosecutor in the People’s Court.  He was with Magsaysay and the Nacionalista Party along with the Rah Rah boys of Raul Manglapus.  Manglapus composed the famous campaign song “Mambo Magsaysay,” and tutored Magsaysay in oratory, specially the famous Moises Padilla speech that ushered Magsaysay into the Presidency.  He served Maysaysay as Secretary of Foreign Affairs.  After Magsaysay died, Manny and Raul ran for the senate under the Grand Alliance (ppp Progressives + disgusted Liberals and Nacionalistas), and lost.

        In 1961 as an lp, Manny Pelaez became Vice President under Diosdado Macapagal, in whose cabinet I served.  Manglapus topped the senate race, and distinguished himself with the sponsorship of the Land Reform Act.  Manny wanted to be president, but with Macapagal eyeing a second term, both he and Marcos left the lp to join the np.  Marcos won the nomination, and Pelaez drifted back to the ppp with Manglapus as presidential candidate.

        “When I come back from Cairo, I’ll campaign for you,” Pelaez told Manglapus in 1965.  Pelaez never showed up, instead he ran with the lp (and Macapagal), and on TV asked the voters not to waste their votes on Manglapus.

        In 1969, Pelaez was back with the np, campaigning for Marcos whom he once called a “most dangerous man.”  In 1972, martial law was declared, and three senators were immediately ordered arrested — Ninoy who was imprisoned seven years, Pepe Diokno in prison for two years, and Raul Manglapus who escaped and was in exile for 13 years.  Pelaez became Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, and defended Marcos from the attacks of Manglapus in Hawaii as late as 1980, and stayed with Marcos till he was ambushed by persons unknown, after which he laid low, while the rest of us were fighting the February Revolution.  I never saw him in a public rally.

        Raul Manglapus was to be Ambassador to the USA, but somehow Manny Pelaez ingratiated himself with Cory and got the appointment instead.   Manglapus was elected into the Senate.  Eventually Cory appointed Raul Manglapus as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, and as such he negotiated with asshole Americans on the US Bases, and did his best to promote, protect and defend Philippine interest in the face of his boss President Cory Aquino’s determination to accommodate the Americans.  A majority of twelve Senators led by Jovito Salonga, Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada and Erap Estrada opposed and rejected the Bases Treaty.

        Raul Manglapus accepted the position of Chairman of the Philippine National Oil Co., in the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos, and spent many a time playing with his Executive Band with First Lady Ming Ramos as pianist, and once with US President Bill Clinton as saxophonist when he was here on a visit.

        During Erap’s term, Raul Manglapus retired, contracted throat cancer, and passed away peacefully.

August 30 and 31, 1999 on DWBR-fm; August 4 and 6, 1999, Philippine Post