Manuel Araneta Roxas (MAR)
Born: May 13 1957, Taurus
Astrological Traits: Warm, loving, determined, inflexible
Wife: Korina Sanchez
Son: Paolo Gerardo Zaldarriaga Roxas
Origins: Distinguished, wealthy. Parents: Gerry Roxas and Judy Araneta. Grandfather: Pres. Manuel Roxas
Means of livelihood: A blind trust?
Past Employment: Investment banker; Congressman; Senator; DTI, DOTC, DILG Secretary
Current Employment: None
Hobbies: Golf, dating (pre-Korina)
Favorite saying: Daang Matuwid
The presidential race is the candidate’s to lose. On paper he is the most qualified. He has the lineage, education, looks, intelligence, integrity, and experience. He is heir to Pres. Aquino’s legacy.
The candidate topped the 2004 Senate race with 19 million votes, a record in Philippine national elections.
As an ex-banker and DTI Secretary, he understands how the economy works. Although President Gloria will dispute this he has been credited with spawning the BPO industry.
As first responder in Yolanda, he is now familiar with crisis management.
He has the formidable financial backing of the Liberal Party and Makati based business. He knows how not to run a national race.
He is essentially the incumbent with all its goodies: Local government network, insider status, Hello Garci.
His wife is alternately listed as a strength and a weakness.
The candidate went in six years from topping the Senate race with a record vote to losing the vice-presidency. Despite being anointed the Chosen One the candidate continues to lag in the Presidential polls. Why?
The answer has been debated ad nauseam. Some say his handlers became over confident. Others say he does not want it enough, that it is sufficient to be the most deserving to win.
It is universally agreed the candidate does not connect with the masses but this is hardly surprising: An ex-Wall Street investment banker cuddling snot-nosed babies? That is the definition of discomfort. In the candidate this sometimes translates, rightly or wrongly, to excessive self-awareness, perceived elitism and flippancy.
To counter the awkwardness, his handlers have photo-shopped him in any way they believe will sell. In the latest attempt at a make-over, the LP recently proudly announced it “engaged” a twenty something heart throb, Daniel Padilla, to endorse the candidate with the youth. With the endless repackaging the candidate lost his identity and his warmth: Is he a respected technocrat or is he a cool dude, is he a wealthy public servant or a Mr. Palengke, is he a political poster boy or a man on a mission? His advisers became overly concerned with the optics not understanding plastic does not work.
People talk of his seeming indecisiveness, the so called Teka Teka syndrome. This may stem from skepticism, suspicion, caution, thoughtfulness or all of the above. He seemingly trusts few people, possibly a result of his closed circle.
The good news is the candidate’s weaknesses are self-induced and can presumably be corrected. The bad news, it is said, is his advisers do not like to listen and take criticism badly, that they are disconnected from the world outside the safe and comfortable cocoon of what is fittingly called the White House.
The candidate has all it takes to be President, even possibly a good one. He has proven once he can win big. He talks about having to run scared but maybe he needs to be really, really scared.
He needs to be at peace with himself. He is knowledgeable, honest, intelligent and personable. He should let these qualities shine and not devolve to who he is not, poor, shallow, cute. He must not be apologetic of his wealth. It is ok to be rich as long as you wear the mantle with grace and compassion. Donald Trump brags about his billions and voters love it. Thaksin Shinawatra, the Thai telecoms tycoon, was voted into office. Mauricio Macri, a multi-millionaire, was just elected President of Argentina. Imelda Marcos always said Filipinos want their leader to look rich.
The candidate must define his own vision for the country and be passionate about it. He once said his vision of the Philippines is the Liberal Party’s vision, he was simply its messenger. He now proclaims he is the extension of PNoy’s Daang Matuwid. It is hard to become enamored with a leader with a second-hand dream. The public looks for original content.
Voters want a serious, strong and decisive leader who can unify the nation. For this a candidate must take risks recognizing that often an imperfect decision is the best there is. He must learn to trust and to listen, to be inclusive, to be mature, to stand on the shoulders of giants.
As the presumptive heir, the candidate must maximize the power of the incumbent. He must instill fear in his opponents and their supporters.
The entry of Mayor Duterte in the race is an opportunity. He will take away from the two leading presidentiables. Also, the more the players, the greater the scope to game the system.
It is said the difference between a good athlete and a winnable one is in his head. The candidate is a good candidate, can he be a winnable one? The answer is in his head.
The candidate is tied to the President at the hip. Any negative headlines on the Administration and PNoy will spillover to the candidate.
Otherwise the main threat to the candidate is the foot his team might put in his mouth. His dismissive comments on the Tanim Bala matter were not endearing and social media told him so. In politics intellectual brightness often needs to be dimmed.
Despite his poor numbers, the candidate is eminently winnable with a little help from his friends. For this he might want to go back to the future, to return to the un-manicured, hopeful, shining star 19 million Filipinos once supported, the original self.