Saturday, February 2, 2013

Jack Enrile: Demystified

Me and Jack Enrile
Mention the name "Jack Enrile" and for those who lived during the seventies will immediately say, "mysterious". Yep, Jack's name is indeed, mysterious because, unlike other scions of established political personalities of today, he stayed away from the glare and the limelight and shone in the field of business rather than politics. Jack Enrile is the Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's son, and he's supposed to follow the footsteps of his illustrious dad. 

For Jack, who spent dinner with me last night at Petra and Pilar, a restaurant his family owns, the allure of politics is nothing compared to the excitement he gets as a businessman. For forty years, Jack Enrile quietly built a strong reputation as a businessman. During the eighties, Jack went to the States and brought back here ideas that he thinks would help him in his business, yet, at the same time, ideas that would help improve the lives of his kababayans in Cagayan.

Jack talking to his constituents
Jackie Enrile is no ordinary entrepreneur. He is, to my mind, a social entrepreneur, one who not only do business for the sake of profits, but, does things for the sake of his fellow Filipinos. In Cagayan, Jackie Enrile worked with farmers. He tried very hard to understand their lives. He went out of his way researching the things farmers need. 

That's how Jackie Enrile described his life for the last four decades. When Jackie told me about this, I suddenly remembered one of my closest and most admired friends, Joey de Venecia III, a namesake of former Speaker Jose De Venecia and another one, Owen Singson. Incidentally, all of these friends of mine belong to illustrious political families in Regions 1 and 2 who, at the onset, did not follow the footsteps of their highly popular dads.

Cool, collected and highly magnetic personality
Joey, as you know, is really a businessman. He just ran for the Senate in 2010 because he thinks that it was his duty as a citizen to correct the monumental errors in governance. Many people thought that the political road is where he will dedicate his life to, but he remains dear to me because he chose not to. Many people thought he will be running as Senator in this election, but he chose not. 

Same case with Owen Singson, who for many years, managed the businesses of his family. When, however, his dad, Congressman Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur ended his term, Owen had no choice but to run for the post. At first, Owen was reluctant. When he won (he will be serving his second term if he wins this year), Owen dedicated all his life to the service of his people. The last talk we had, Owen intimated to me that he now enjoys serving the people.

" We lost our capability to feed ourselves."
Jackie Enrile was raised in a different era. This is the reason why I wanted to interview him. He could be our country's game changer (BY the way, I'll be writing a piece about Jackie Enrile in my new blog That would be more in depth).

Anyway, for middle aged and older voters, the name Jackie Enrile still strikes someone cold or it is still clothed in mystery.

During the seventies and early eighties, mention the word "Jackie Enrile" and someone would say that he's a brat. There were rumors back then that Jackie Enrile always carries a gun and surrounded by heavily armed security guards.

Visionary, loves the masses
Last night, I found nothing unusual with the number of people securing him. Fact is, his security detail is not as big as others. 

When I asked him several "controversial questions", Jackie Enrile was calm and helpful. He is far from the "Jackie Enrile" that people once feared because he is the son of Marcos' former defense minister. 

Ask him about the Enrile political brand name and he will tell you what it is---people like what his father did to them, to improve their lives, and other people hate his father for what he did during Martial law. The Enrile name is still highly popular, says Jackie. However, people feel ambivalence whenever they are asked what they feel or think about the legacy of his father, Juan Ponce.

The Will to serve is there
Jackie Enrile appears to be a very honest person, a good trait for a person who wants to be different in Philippine politics. I had the pleasure of interviewing his father many times as a Senator, and the Senate President's style is unique. 

Juan Ponce belongs to the era of the old politics, while Jackie exudes the kind of politics that this generation needs---honest, brutally frank, intelligent, visionary and driven by a desire, a passion even, of giving true service to the people.

Juan Ponce's politics are the prime-bang, ornate style of speaking while Jackie's style is more of the masses--he  speaks when asked to, and has so many ideas in his head and is passionate about what he believes that it is next to impossible for someone to ask him to stop explaining because he speaks animatedly and with conviction.

Jackie Enrile, by the way, is the only Senatoriable right now, who advocates for food sovereignty. The term is heavy, but Jackie Enrile says, farmers and the poor folks in the rural backwaters of Philippine society understand this quite perfectly.

Because he spent many years with farmers, Jackie Enrile sees their condition differently. I suddenly remembered Tita Midz (Tita Armida Siguion-Reyna). Tita Midz was with me during the struggle against the electoral injustice Arroyo did to FPJ. I shared the stage with her during the protest stage when we both got splashed strung with dirty water by Arroyo's police minions and nearly got arrested. 

Because of his strong advocacy for the farmers, Jackie Enrile, I believe, has his aunt's political convictions, his dad's strong political will, and his mother's heart. He is strong willed yes, but his style is really consultative, a style that suits the Senate.

Now that we have "unmasked" the true Jackie Enrile, how about asking him about his true "role" or "participation" in the mysterious death of a former matinee idol, Alfie Anido. Read on.

(First of two blogs about Jackie Enrile. I will likewise write something about him in my other blogs, and TO those who want me to write about their candidates, email me at or text me at 09175395320)