Those who merited mention in the SONA
WHO were the more than 120 individuals especially mentioned, mostly in favorable light and in grateful acknowledgement, in the two-hour farewell State of the Nation Address last Monday of President Noynoy Aquino?
The President explained: “I thought it best to speak about where we came from, to give sufficient context for the challenges that we faced, continue to face, and will still face, and also for the criticism hurled at us. All of this censure, ridicule, and abuse, I accepted as part and parcel of the opportunity to serve you.
“The truth is, I did not have to go through this alone. Now, I will ask for some of your time to thank those who were our inspiration and partners. I hope that others will understand if I cannot mention them today.”
But we cite here only our favorite 27 mentions and quote the President to add context and flavor. Name capitalization is ours, for easy recall:
“To Executive Secretary Jojo OCHOA, who is also called the Little President: Our strong relationship began way back, with our parents. We have supported each other through many challenges in life. Your private practice was sacrificed in the length of time that you served the public. Everything you know about the law, you shared with me. You did not leave me, even in times when there were threats to our lives.
“To Secretary Rene ALMENDRAS, ES Ochoa’s partner and taskmaster of the Cabinet: Your forehead was once so smooth, now it seems to be riddled with a barangay’s humps because you shared the burden of the challenges we faced.
“To Secretaries Edwin LACIERDA and Sonny COLOMA, former Secretary Ricky CARANDANG, together with Usec Abi VALTE and Manolo QUEZON, who were the voices and online presence of the Straight Path: Truly, I felt the burden that you carried in answering questions, whether they made sense or not, to make sure that our countrymen received all the right information.
(FDP: I was surprised at the mention of Ricky who I thought was already out of the communication group. When the Aquino administration took over in 2010, Ricky reported on TV, untruthfully and I felt maliciously, that I had been appointed to a GOCC board by then President Gloria Arroyo. That was a big lie for which Ricky and the ABS-CBN had apologized.)
“To all those who have walked alongside us along the Straight and Righteous Path, namely: Didi SYTANGCO, who openly showed her support even during the most difficult of times, as well as Alice MURPHY and Yoly ONG, who have served as wellsprings of inspiration and good advice.
“To Jun REYES, Gigi VISTAN, and everyone who has worked with us since I began running for Congress, until my days in the Senate. You gave me your patient guidance on what to wear, how to act, and how to speak. You know that, unlike my sister Kris, I am not used to being in front of a camera.
“To Ate BALLSY, PINKY, VIEL, KRIS, and my brothers-in-law and nephews and nieces. You have stood by me since Mom and Dad were in public service. The day is coming when you will no longer have to make additional sacrifices on my behalf.
“If I may make a special mention: to General Chito DIZON, former head of the PSG, and to its current head, RaulUBANDO, whose first two weeks in charge were a true baptism of fire due to the Zamboanga crisis. To Lt. Col. FrancisCORONEL, head of my close-in security, as well as to SPO4 Lito AFRICANO and PO3 Bong FUYONAN, who have been with me for such a long time.
“To Asec Susan REYES, our Social Secretary, who proves that one need not be extravagant to uphold the dignity of the presidency.
“To Paul CABRAL who makes sure that I always wear proper clothing, and to Cherry REYES who is both my hairstylist [laughter] and an economics practitioner, when it comes to the way she fulfills unlimited wants with very limited resources.
“To those working in my Private Office in Malacañang, especially to Usec Rochelle AHORRO and Asec JunDELANTAR, who have, on many occasions, shared in my stress.
“And I would like to introduce to you Yolly YEBES, who has been with me for the past 20 years. You never fail to make sure I am able to eat my meals at the proper time. You prepare my things for all my trips, domestic or foreign, and you have cared not just for me, but also for those I work with. Whenever I tell you we have a meeting and ask if you could prepare us something to eat, you don’t have to ask ‘when’ or ‘how many people.’ I never have to worry about those preparations, because you think of everything. Yolly, I wanted you to watch this SONA, so I could tell you: Thank you for all your help.”
■ Neal’s passing a big loss to Phl media
RESPECTED editor and columnist Neal H. Cruz died Tuesday of cerebral hemorrhage suffered after a fall in his bathroom. He was 85. His wake at the Mt. Carmel Church in New Manila, Quezon City, ends on Saturday.
Neal’s journalism career spanned six decades. Until his passing, he was a columnist at the Inquirer. He was editor and columnist of several national dailies, including the Manila Chronicle, Daily Globe, Daily Tribune, Daily Express, and theEvening News.
After graduating with a bachelor’s in journalism at the University of Santo Tomas where he was literary editor of theVarsitarian, Neal joined professional journalism as arts and literary editor of This Week magazine of the Chronicle.
An art connoisseur, Neal counted among his closest friends well-known artists. He was also an advocate of environmental conservation and animal welfare. His Quezon City home is filled with cats mostly rescued from the streets.