I’m sure it came as a surprise when it was announced that I accepted the position as spokesman for the Vice President regarding political concerns. Truth to tell, I was surprised that I was offered this position at all.
Among the 3 Remulla brothers in politics, I never fit the bill to be a spokesman. Boying, the bar topnotcher, is the most natural fit because of his sheer intellect. Gilbert, the former media man, is even more qualified because of his experience in the field. I am actually the least qualified because, outside of my less than stellar academic record, I have been exclusively serving in the local government of Cavite all my life.
As I reflect on my reasons, I find myself looking back at my very odd journey growing up.
I was born the 6th of 7 children to Johnny and Ditas. In a small bungalow in Barangay San Isidro in Makati, 6 children (Gilbert was not born yet) shared one bedroom which was 20 square meters big. The house was 75 square meters in a flood-prone street called Newton. Two streets away, a young human rights lawyer – with an odd name – rented a small apartment, not owning much except the dream of a freer and more humane country in the future.
Three years later, as my father’s law practice took off, we moved to a more comfortable part of Makati.
As my consciousness began to develop, I had thought that the entire country was like my community. In my mind, everyone had cars, travelled occasionally, studied in good schools, and used English as the lingua franca.
All the Remulla brothers were educated in a certain manner. We spent our elementary education in La Salle, high school in Ateneo, and then University of the Philippines for our tertiary education. My high school years were rough for me. My two older brothers had already begun studying in UP and I was left to fend for myself in a hostile environment, full of boys who were bigger, tougher, meaner, and hated anyone and anything that came from the “green side of the fence,” so to speak.
I was bullied.
Every day of my freshman year, the belligerent 13-year-old would wait outside my classroom pointing to the lanky former La Sallian, mouthing invectives that if I stepped out I would be bodily harmed. I remember making it a point to eat a heavy breakfast because I knew that my next meal would be at 5 pm when I got home. No one stood up for me because they either agreed with the bullies or they simply didn’t care. I buried those days in the deepest recesses of my mind, choosing to remember how I eventually adapted, overcame, and grew stronger because of all the adversity. I did develop a particular mindset: from those days forward, I would never be a bully, and I would stand up for what I believed is right.
There could be no two more different people than Jojo Binay and myself. I grew up spoon-fed, pampered, patrician. The Vice President has been fighting for everything his entire life. Nobody ever gave him anything. His parents died when he was very young. He had to fend for himself at a very early age.
I am 6’1″ and athletic. He’s no more than 5’2″ and that is with shoes on. I never studied hard. He realized very early that it was his only ticket out.
While Vice President Binay was working with the Aquinos and risked his life fighting injustices, my father supported the Marcoses. As I aged, I began to stand out in the crowd. He, on the other hand, is so ordinary looking that his charisma stems not from what he has and has been given, but the extraordinary struggle he has gone through his entire life.
We have all been witness to the extraordinary transformation of Makati: from its innovative healthcare services, to its free education up to the tertiary level, and its care for the senior citizens. Without a doubt, the city of Makati has exceeded any and all expectations.
I have been trying to do the same for my province. To date, Cavite has undertaken the task of professionalizing the rank and file by undergoing an ISO certification. It has streamlined red tape by cutting the cost of governance by instituting a “No-Take” policy. As with Makati, Cavite continues to encourage the growth of businesses to generate employment. As governor, I am proud to say that the local governments and agencies now have the foresight to plan the next wave of the country’s growth by making room for a new international airport and container port.
It is because of these achievements and more that I truly respect the man. I believe that despite being labeled by the elite as such and so, he is a man that fundamentally cares about the ordinary Filipino. In a gulf of least expectations, he has managed to overcome adversity time and again to be at the cusp of the presidency. I may not be like the man, but I have a deep sense of respect for him.
He has stood up against bullies all his life. From the despair of being an orphan, to the oppression of poverty, to fighting a repressive regime, to facing up against military coup d’etat, he has stood tall.
Deep down inside, I wish there was a Jojo Binay beside me in those darkest days at the Ateneo. I wish that there was a Jojo Binay who could have been there and stood up against the bigger boys and said, “You lay a finger on him? You have to deal with me.”
He is a man of commitment and service. He is my candidate to be president. I believe in him and I believe where he can take this country. I’m all in. – Rappler.com
Juanito Victor “Jonvic” Remulla is the governor of Cavite and spokesperson for political affairs of Vice President Jejomar Binay. This piece was originally posted on his Facebook account. We are reposting it with his permission.