THE VIEW FROM RIZAL
By DR. JUN YNARES
There are special ties that bind the cities of Manila and Antipolo.
One such tie is religious. Thousands of Manilans join the annual Holy Thursday-to-Good Friday pilgrimage on foot to Antipolo. Manila’s Quiapo was also the refuge of Antipolo’s prized patroness, Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage, during the second world war.
There are also emotional ties between the two cities. This is why we are writing this column.
The leadership of Manila will be passed on from outgoing Mayor Erap Estrada to incoming Mayor Isko Moreno. The transition is being watched by many and viewed by some as the coming of a new chapter in the life of that city. Some say this development represents the passing of the torch of leadership from the older to the younger generation. Others say this is development has been made even more interesting by the fact that the mayor-elect’s win in the recent polls was initially an unexpected one.
We view the transition with a little of both sadness and joy. Sad, because this marks an interruption of the long history of public service of former President Erap Estrada, one of the country’s most beloved political leaders and public icons. At one point, he was considered one of the Philippines’s most powerful “political brand”. He represented the kind of leadership first associated with the late President Ramon Magsaysay – compassionate, approachable, and beloved by the masses.
President-Mayor Erap was a Manileño-by-choice. He uprooted himself from his native San Juan to offer his brand of leadership to the people of the most densely populated city in the country. They welcomed the man once dubbed the “Ronald Reagan of the Philippines,” in reference perhaps to the fact that he and the late American president were both movie stars before they became the highest officials of their respective countries.
From an outsider’s point of view, we will dare to say that there is a lot of “Erap” in the incoming mayor of Manila. Mayor-elect Isko comes from that same “Magsaysay” mold – close to the common man, speaks the language understood by the ordinary Juan de la Cruz, and someone whom the Manileños can rightfully call “one of our own.”
Both the outgoing and incoming mayors of Manila – Erap and Isko – played a special role in our life, which is the reason for the strong emotional ties.
It has to do with an incident in our life which we shared in this column before.
It was an assassination plot against this columnist and his father, former Rizal Governor Ito Ynares. It happened in September of 2013.
The discovery of the plot began with the visit to a wake by a councilor of the city of Manila. As the Manila councilor looked at the body of his constituent, he wondered why the dead man’s body was riddled with so many bullet wounds. What happened to him, he asked the widow. At that moment, she did not wish to speak about the killing of her husband. She was trembling with fear.
A couple of days later, she called up the Manila councilor and told him the details of her husband’s death. He was shocked by what he heard. Immediately, he called up the vice mayor of Manila, his former boss. The latter was similarly shocked. That vice mayor was Isko Moreno, Manila’s incoming mayor,
Vice Mayor Isko then decided to bring the matter up to the mayor of his city who happened to be Mayor Erap. Mayor Erap insisted that we meet him personally so he could explain the details of the assassination plot.
On the day of the meeting, the widow came. My father and I were shocked beyond belief by what we heard.
The widow related that her husband and three others were commissioned to undertake a “kill” mission. The target: my father and I. The price for the completion of the job: P100,000 per hired killer, or a total of P400,000. Advanced payments were made, guns were supplied, and detailed information were given.
The widow told us a detailed story of how her late husband and his three companions attempted to shoot us down. We were shocked by her narration and at how accurate the details were of our movements, our schedules, our whereabouts. The plotters had excellent intelligence gathering.
According to the widow, her husband told her that they were set to do the kill on two occasions. Except for a couple of hitches – I did not show up on those two occasions. For one reason or another, the two occasions they chose to pull the trigger on me were the two occasions I failed to attend.
And for one reason or another, after the two failed attempts, her husband started to have second thoughts and expressed his intention of backing out of his kill mission. A few days after he backed out, he was killed. For some strange reason, he had made sure his wife knew the entire story before he was gunned down himself.
We look back to that experience as Divine Intervention. Only Divine Intervention could have moved the Manila councilor to care enough to visit a dead man’s wake and be so concerned about his fate. Only the hand of God could have moved him to care enough to relay the widow’s story to then-Vice Mayor Isko. Only the soft whisper of God could have made Vice Mayor Isko care enough to bother Mayor Erap about a kill plot that did not even directly involve them.
Only the gentle touch of God could have moved the Mayor Erap to make a call to my father despite his busy schedule. Maybe, I and my father are alive and well today because a widow and the three officials of Manila cared enough. In my language, only the Grace of God can make that possible.
We wish both Mayor Erap and Mayor-elect Isko all the best.
We pray that they and the city they love and serve will continue to be blessed.
*For feedback, please email it to [email protected] or send it to #4 Horse Shoe Drive, Beverly Hills Subdivision, Bgy. Beverly Hills, Antipolo City, Rizal.