Written and photographed
By Jude Bautista
My brother George Bautista and his family arrived from Auckland New Zealand for a Christmas get away. We had already spent a night at Punta Fuego, just a very short drive from Tagaytay City. The following day January 3, the kids had a grand time horseback-riding going up Taal Volcano. On our way back to the exclusive resort/club we decided to have dinner in a new restaurant, BREAKFAST AT ANTONIO’S.
As we were feasting on pizza and pancakes we saw the lovely Congresswoman Lani Mercado walk in with her family. As an entertainment photographer, it was my habit to shoot celebrities even during private parties/get togethers. So I very politely asked to shoot her photo. To my surprise she volunteered to go to my family and have a pic taken with them.
Less than a minute later, Sen. Bong Revilla joined Cong. Lani and his family. I again asked to shoot them. Although Sen. Bong was not in the best of spirits he stood up, gamely posed and smiled for the photo. I remember telling him that I was able to photograph him at the Metro Manila Film festival for PANDAY.
Then, just today January 20, I was alerted by my nephew Alfonso to the twitter feed where Sen. Bong mentioned a supporter approached him in a Tagaytay restaurant. In his privilege speech he mentioned an old man who expressed support in his times of trouble saying “Wag kang bibitiw, lumaban ka. Naniniwala kami sayo.” It reminded me of the photo I took above, just 2 weeks before. Was it the same night he met the old man? Who knows?
I can only imagine the difficulties that he and his family were going through ever since the NAPOLES senate hearings. It saddens me to hear his son has had to endure bullying in law school no less. Are we not a nation where a man is innocent until proven guilty? Given the recent campaigns against bullying shouldn’t college students be more aware of the effects of their actions? Especially since they are studying law.
I’m not necessarily absolving him of all guilt. I want him to be able to defend himself in court, wait for due process and then abide by the verdict. We’re all prone in rushing to judgment and trial by publicity.
My own recollection of him has always been from the entertainment side. He’s always been a stand up guy as an actor and producer. No one who has ever worked with him would have a bad thing to say. In 2009, ANG PANDAY had nearly swept the awards at the MMFF: Best Actor, Best Supporting, Best Child Performer (Buboy Villar), Best Production Design (Richard Somes), Best Visual Effects (Jay Santiago/RIOT) and Best Theme Song (IKAW LAMANG by Ogie Alcasid). I earned a front-page photo at Manila Bulletin for Sen. Bong and his team IMUS productions. He’s always quite modest especially in victory. He thanked Philip Salvador for helping him with his character and earn Best Actor. Ipe also won Best Supporting actor.
Given the nature of presidential elections, it wouldn’t be surprising if the accusations were part of a smear campaign on Revilla. He would have been a formidable candidate without the hindrance of the Napoles case.