By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
(© 2013 Fil Am Extra Exchange)
CAROL STREAM, Illinois (FAXX/jGLi) – Unlike the father of Sorsogon re-electionist Sen. Francis “Chiz’ Escudero, who discouraged Chiz from running for elective office, the father of Escudero’s province mate, Loida Nicolas Lewis, groomed her in politics early in life.
In fact, her father, Francisco J. Nicolas, gave her name recognition a head start while she was still a young student, by naming one of the first movie houses in the province after her – Loida – in the capital city of Sorsogon, instead of his three other children.
When another accomplished Filipino American – Cook County Judge Jessica O’Brien in Illinois – asked Attorney Lewis last April 12 here if she ever has entertained plans of running for office in the Philippines, her response was short and swift: “No. Kakainin tayo ng buhay, (politics will eat us alive) if we run (for office) in the Philippines. Voters are poor. You have to give them money. They get your money (but they can) not to be trusted. If you run, run to win. If you run for principle, gaga ka (you are nuts.)”
Of course, another militating factor for her not to enter politics in the Philippines is the injunction for her to give up first her U.S. citizenship, a Constitution ban, which many dual citizen Filipinos want scrapped.
So, instead of politics, Ms. Lewis now sticks by with what she does best – keep up with her advocacies with her fellow members of the U.S. Pinoys For Good Government (USP4GG) as watchdogs to politicians, who stray off the straight path.
She said, when someone proposed to bury the late Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (National Heroes Cemetery), “we were there to stand in the way.” Ironically, it was a congressional resolution authored by Senator Escudero’s father, the late Congressman Salvador “Sonny” Escudero, one of the sponsors of my wedding, who sponsored the resolution to give Mr. Marcos a heroes burial, which did not get off the ground.
Ms. Lewis was in town as one of the motivational speakers to what was billed as “Billionaire’s Expo” held at the Holiday Inn & Suites at 150 S. Gary Avenue sponsored by IPJM in cooperation with twice-monthly Fil-Am MegaScene of nearby Buffalo Grove, Illinois.
THE 1-MILLION OAV’s
On the side, she also endorsed eight of the 12 senatorial candidates of the PNoy Team that the nearly one million registered Filipino overseas absentee voters out of the estimated 9.5- to 12.5-million should vote by mail from April 13 to May 13 elections. Overseas voters will also be voting for one Party-List representative. If the registered overseas Filipinos would turn up in droves, the votes could spell victory or defeat for candidates contesting the 12th spot.
A leading overseas political campaigner and fund-raiser for the Noynoy-Mar 2010 presidential elections that resulted in a split victory to President Aquino, Attorney Lewis is also grounded on local politics in keeping with the truism that all politics are local.
She is now being viewed by bickering local politicians’ as their lifeline to political gods like Secretary Mar Roxas, the presumed standard bearer of the Liberal Party in the 2016 presidential elections.
Sorsogon provincial board member Vladimir Ramon B. Frivaldo, the official candidate for Vice Governor in Sorsogon under the Liberal Party, sought the help of this columnist to bring his complaint to Attorney Lewis for Mr. Roxas to impose party discipline on 2nd District Sorsogon Rep. Diogracias “Ding” Ramos,” Sorsogon and Provincial LP Co-Chairman, for not recognizing Mr. Renato “Ato” Laurinaria, LP official candidate for Sorsogon governor, and himself as LP vice gubernatorial candidate in Sorsogon.
Mr. Ramos, instead, endorsed an independent gubernatorial candidate. Mr. Frivaldo wants Ms. Lewis to relay this confusion to Mr. Roxas.
And as a Bicolana, Ms. Lewis was also invited by Ms. Evelyn R. Tolledo, president of Bikol U.S.A. of the Midwest, to be the guest of honor and speaker at the national convention of Bikol National Associations of America in Chicago, Illinois on July 25-27, 2014.
Aside from local politics, Attorney Lewis is also attuned to international affairs, involving the Philippines. Last year, she was a godsend to Filipino nationalists, who could not speak openly against Chinese aggression in Philippine Western Sea (South China Sea). She advocated for the boycott of Chinese products around the world by urging overseas Filipinos to hold rallies before the Philippine Embassy and different consulates in the U.S. On Aug 21, 2013, it will be a much bigger rally, she warned.
SPOTTY CHINESE INTELLIGENCE EXPOSED
Her boycott call must have been so effective that when she led a rally in Makati, she saw her face on a Chinese footage carried by a local TV denouncing her as China’s “Public Enemy No. 1. The footage urged Chinese to boycott her Beatrice products in Mainland China, eh, nabenta ko na ito! (I already sold out my products in China!),” evoking laughter from her audience.
Ms. Lewis’ feat of attracting the attention of China was a coup of sorts as it exposed China’s spotty intelligence apparatus for calling for a boycott of Beatrice products based on false information – a bum steer (koryente).
Ms. Lewis congratulated the government of President Aquino for piling up over $80-billion in reserves since he took power from Gloria Macapagal Arroyo; for improving the investment grade of the country to triple “B” rating in 2012; for turning the GDP growth as No. 3 in Southeast Asia at 6.6 % economic expansion with China as first and Turkey, second; for the International Monetary Fund to ask the Philippines to lend Spain $1.3-billion. “Isn’t it amazing? Spain brought us Christianity but was repressive to us, but is now saved by the Philippines!”
She added another feather in President Aquino’s cap is the elevation of Secretary of Finance Cesar Purisima as the best finance minister in the world by a financial magazine.
The philanthropist, who helped raised a portion of “blood money” for the release of Rodelio Celestino “Dondon” Lanuza, said Mr. Lanuza is going to be released next month from Death Row in Saudi Arabia after the Saudi King Abdullahoffered to fork over a substantial balance of 2.3 million Saudi Riyals (P25 million) of the total 3 million Saudi Riyals (P33 million) to spare Lanuza’s life. She credits this columnist for bringing Mr. Lanuza’s case to her attention.
But for all the accolades she heaped on President Aquino, she dumbed down Mr. Aquino for his handling of the Sabah issue. “The Sultan of Sulu wrote him letters three times and nothing happened. They (the Sultan’s men) invaded Sabah. Why go on TV (and threaten the Sultan with jail)? (Bakit hindi niya tawagan ang Sultan nariyan lang sa Taguig?) (Why didn’t he call the Sultan, who is just there in Taguig? And tell him, “What do you want? Let’s talk.” Paghindi niya ginawa yan, napakasimple. Otherwise, he is doing good.” (firstname.lastname@example.org)
FAXX/jGLi Photo of Atty. Loida N. Lewis.
JOSEPH G. LARIOSA
Fil Am Extra Exchange