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A Binay-Bongbong tandem

SIXTY-seven years ago, sometime in 1948 when I was still in my second year at the Ateneo de Manila ruins at Padre Faura, the Sodality Club of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of which I was a member, were taken by bus to Lipa, Batangas.

We were to visit a Carmelite monastery in the wake of reports of a Marian phenomenon when the Blessed Virgin Mary allegedly appeared to a Carmelite postulant, Teresita Castillo, who said that while she was at the garden, she saw a vine shake although there was no wind at all.

The postulant then heard a woman’s voice saying: “Fear not, my child. Kiss the group.  Whatever I tell you to do, you must do. For 15 consecutive days, come to visit me here in this spot.”

The next day, Castillo returned to the same spot, and saw a beautiful lady holding a rosary.

Yet the next day, a mysterious shower of rose petals occurred at the same place and was also witnessed by some nuns. This sparked an investigation that would lead to the persecution of Castillo and other personalities, including then-Auxiliary Bishop Alfredo Obviar, who is now a candidate for sainthood.

Through the efforts of some Jesuits, who accompanied our group, we were introduced to the Carmelite postulant and to Obviar. We saw those rose petals that showered the place where the Blessed Virgin allegedly appeared. They were dry, but they still exuded that wonderful rose petals scent.

Since then, I been asking myself whether the appearance of the Blessed Virgin, similar to that of apparitions at Lourdes (France), Fatima (Portugal), Guadalupe (Mexico) and elsewhere was for real. My faith tells me that if the Blessed Virgin’s appearances elsewhere were true, and declared by the Church as truly “supernatural” and object of belief and devotion, the Lipa apparition could also be true.

Now, after 67 years, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles has officially declared that the Lipa apparition and the shower of rose petals are of “supernatural character” and worthy of belief.

Now that I’m 88 years old, believing in my faith as Catholic, I consider myself privileged and blessed for having gone there 67 years ago. The experience strengthened my faith and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

I have gone to several Marian pilgrimages.As I always say: for those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation is possible.

* * *

Senator Bongbong Marcos will be the running mate of vice president Jojo Binay in the 2016 elections.

I heard this from an unimpeachable source who claimed the vice president had convinced Marcos to be his running mate. I consider this a formidable team-up;  it further solidifies the already-solid North: Binay from Isabela, and Marcos from Ilocandia.

Some may have doubts about Bongbong Marcos, but it’s a fact that there are still many Ilocanos everywhere in the Visayas and Mindanao.  I am and will always be an Ilocano, who will always side with his fellow Ilocano.

The stand of Bongbong Marcos on the controversial Bangsamoro Basic Law just may be his defining moment.

The late strongman Ferdinand Marcos may be a lot of things for some people, but there is no doubt he also did some good. And Bongbong is the exact replica of his father: erudite, steadfast in his beliefs. He is an achiever. That makes the Binay-Marcos tandem formidable as the only opposition to President Aquino’s anointed, Mar Roxas who is still scrounging for a running mate.

In my 65 years as a journalist, I have never seen an administration presidential bet scrounging for a running mate. Now they would settle for a neophyte congresswoman from Bicol, who thinks that her being a widow to Jesse Robredo, allegedly an exemplary public official, is a sure ticket to the vice presidency.

Santa Banana, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo should know her limitation. She said it before when she turned down the initial attempts of Malacañang to make her Mar’s running mate.

I know she would rather continue being a congresswoman for her district, or perhaps run for a higher office like the Senate.

(This is, at least, unlike Senator Grace Poe who said, unabashedly: “I’m your next President.”  Grace promised the moon and the stars to the people. I heard her 20-point platform encompassing economic, social and cultural issues, including corruption, peace and order, education, infrastructure, tax reform, agriculture, and the West Philippine Sea territory dispute with China, labor and human rights.)

A Mar-Leni tandem. That’s a losing formula. People will be asking: Who’s Leni?

Strangely, it seems that widows and children of the dead tend to metamorphose as leaders. When Ninoy Aquino was assassinated, Cory became president. When Cory died, BS Aquino III became president out of sympathy. Now, we have Grace Poe, adopted daughter of the late movie icon FPJ, running as president.

Now, the President and the Liberal Party would want the widow of Jesse Robredo.

* * *

I’d like to echo the need for the Senate Electoral Tribunal to decide soon on the residency and citizenship issues hanging over the head of Senator Grace Poe, who is running for the presidency.

The filing of certificates of candidacy for national positions is fast approaching.

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