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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gibo Teodoro Is Now Back!

Gibo is Back!

By Buddy Cunanan of the Manila

A LITTLE birdie whispered into my ear the most delightful news. I have it on relia-ble information that former Defense Secretary and presi-dentiable Gilbert Teodoro is returning to the political scene before June, in preparation for a possible Senate run in 2013.

Although Teodoro was one of the first to concede defeat after last year’s elections, nary a word has been heard from him since. Many have been wondering why the youthful and erudite former Defense Secretary, who displayed so much brilliance and promise during the campaign, chose to retreat almost completely from public life. Disillusioned with the seeming lack of direction of the Aquino administration and the mediocrity of the country’s current crop of leaders, people have been clamoring and yearning for him to return from his self-imposed hiatus.

During the campaign, the public’s response to Teodoro was amazing. All over the country, as Teodoro went to the hustings, his brand of positive politics, intelligence, and eloquence inspired legions of followers. But more than anything else, it was his firm grasp of the country’s institutional weaknesses and knowledge of how to correct them that made many realize that this was the man who should be President. Unlike candidate Noynoy Aquino whose image and mystique were created by a very supportive mass media, led by ABS-CBN and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Teodoro was the real deal—an upright person of high intellect; a non-traditional politician with a clear vision for the Philippines, whose time had come.

Sad to say, in the months after the elections, Teodoro’s absence alienated some of his most ardent supporters, many of whom felt abandoned at a time when they were most in need of his leadership.

People take defeat in different ways. Presidential campaigns are brutal, harrowing engagements that are not only very expensive but mentally and emotionally exhausting. Losing a presidential race is like being sacked in the end zone or knocked down in the twelfth round—it takes a while for anyone to get up. Speaker Joe de Venecia was a recluse for almost half a year, nursing a bruised ego and wounds from political betrayal, after coming in second to Vice President Joseph Estrada in 1998. More recently, Senator Manny Villar has opted to quietly ride out the remainder of his Senate term and instead, concentrate on running his real estate business, which has posted some very good gains under his renewed stewardship. I bumped into Villar several months ago and although he seemed like he had bounced back, people close to him say that he remains shook up by his defeat last year.

Personally, I believe that Teodoro needed this time away from the public eye to reevaluate his life, goals, and ambitions. In a way, I am glad he lost. This was, in fact, his first real setback in over ten years of successful service in government.

In politics, Teodoro had so many things come easy for him—perhaps too easy. In Congress, he was a force to reckon with principally because he was, at that time, the favorite nephew of industrialist and San Miguel Corporation Chairman Eduardo Cojuangco, who made Teodoro the head of his party, the formidable and united Nationalist People’s Coalition. After three terms in the Lower House, Teodoro parlayed his connections to the Arroyo administration and got appointed Defense Secretary, where he instituted much-needed reforms in the military establishment.

In history, all great and successful leaders have experienced failure, at some point or another. Barrack Obama, who lost the US congressional race in Chicago, returned to his work as a community organizer and eventually won a Senate seat and later, the presidency. Vladimir Putin, a for-mer KGB officer, spent over a decade in Russia’s political wilderness, having been close-ly associated with the discredited mayor of St. Peters-burg, before he emerged as virtual lord and master of Russia. William Churchill was an outcast in ther British Parliament, regarded by many as a rabble-rousing warmonger, but ended up First Lord of Admiralty and Prime Minister during the turbulent World War II years.

For these men, failure was not the end but a learning process, a baptism of fire, a milestone for progress, an opportunity for reinvention. Defeat also serves as a grounding of sorts, making leaders mores realistic and cautious and aware of their limitations and weaknesses.

Teodoro has two things going for him. First, most of his followers are still very much infected with TB—“Teodoro Believer-ism.” I have never seen a group of people as idealistic, committed, and selfless as the Greens and they are ready to do battle once again, when their leader returns. Second, each day that passes under the Aquino administration only makes Teodoro and his “Galing at Talino” platform look good. Sometimes, when you lose you still win. I believe Teodoro will be back and he’ll be better than ever.

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