Clothes don't make a man; the woman behind him does

Clothes don't make a man; the woman behind him does
PHOTO: Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

At the recent launch of "Honorary Woman," Conrado de Quiros' biography of Raul S. Roco, there was light banter about who wore the floral shirt first-Roco himself, or former Manila mayor Lito Atienza?

Ten years after the demise of the man whom Senate President Franklin Drilon described at the event as the "Best President we never had," the shirt debate continues.

But clothes don't make a man. The woman behind him does. I may well be opening a can of worms here, with hordes jumping in to dispute my statement. But one thing is certain, Raul S. Roco lives on through the efforts of one exemplary woman-his wife Sonia Malasarte Roco-who painstakingly continues to gather, collect and collate the anecdotes, writings and other memorabilia that keep her husband's memory alive.

With the De Quiros book, the pack that contained the biography included a 104-page softcover volume on what has been written about Roco, plus two small booklets, one entitled "According to Raul" which might be described as "Rocoisms," and a second mini volume compiling his favourite poems.

All carry the stamp of Sonia's "labour of love," and all contribute to greater understanding and appreciation of the man she married who, today, continues to be hailed as an "honorary woman" for championing women's causes and rights.

Presidential elections

A gaggle of women at lunch is a formidable force. I was at one such gathering last week.

Predictably, conversation veered toward politics and the coming presidential elections, with the merits, or lack of, of the various male "presidentiables" placed under minute scrutiny, and Jejomar Binay immediately eliminated from the list (these, after all, are highly intelligent women).

There was talk, too, about the probable lone female contender whose candidacy I think to be too premature and too presumptuous to earn my support, popular name and the sentimental attachment to it notwithstanding.

Just as predictably, there was talk about the women behind the men, and how they can be an asset or drawback in an election. And, presidential endorsement notwithstanding, it was generally agreed that, if we were to choose our next president based on the women behind the man, none of the emerging hopefuls would get elected into office! Thanks largely to lessons learned from the Marcos conjugal dictatorship and public distaste for dynasties and some media personalities!

If then, it would be prudent for us to examine the women behind the men before we place him in public office. Would it not be equally prudent to diligently check out the spouse of a potential female public servant before voting for her? Look what happened during the Arroyo administration! But then, she was never really elected to that exalted position.

Someone at the table then accused me of having voted for Noynoy because he is single. Well, you can't say it wasn't a good idea.

So who then, really, first wore the floral shirt-Raul Roco or Lito Atienza? Actually, the answer is irrelevant. Perhaps what we should be asking is who, finally, will wear the skirt at Malacanang, be it as Chief Executive, or as power behind the throne.

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