MANILA, Philippines – “Why will you miss me? I will still be around.”
President Benigno Aquino III said there is no reason to miss him just yet even after he steps down from office on Thursday, June 30.
Aquino, in a speech before new graduates of his alma mater Ateneo de Manila University, said he would still be around, as he is set to return to the Aquino family home in Quezon City.
“Nagtataka rin ako kung bakit marami ang nagsasabing: ‘We will miss you.’ Kung minsan po’y napipilitan tayong sumagot na: ‘Sandali lang, nandito pa ako. Bakit ba niyo ako namimiss? At pagkatapos ho ng termino ko po, sa Times lang po ako titira. Hindi naman ako aalis,’ Aquino said on Saturday, June 25.
(I was wondering why many are saying: “We will miss you.” Sometimes I would answer: “Wait, I am still here. Why are you missing me? After my term ends, I will just be living at our home in Times Street. I am not leaving.”)
The President also mentioned the one question he keeps on getting now that his term is soon to be over – “What’s next for you?”
It seemed “normal,” said Aquino, until he talked to other people, who asked him about his political plans for the next elections in 2019.
“Akala ko po’y normal na tanong lang, may curiosity ‘ika nga. Pero nang may nakausap po tayong isang cadet engineer ng Department of Public Works and Highways, parang naiba ang kulay ng tanong. Sabi po niya: ‘What can we expect of you when you step down?'” Aquino said.
(I thought it was just a normal question, out of curiosity. But when I talked to one cadet engineer of the Department of Public Works and Highways, the nature of the question seemed to have changed. He said: “What can we expect of you when you step down?”)
Aquino shared this was the same message he got from a top leader of a known business group.
“Ang tanong po niya sa’kin: ‘Anong posisyon ang tatakbuhan mo sa 2019?’ Bigla po akong napasabi ng ‘Ha?’ Ang sagot niya: ‘Bata ka pa naman, marami ka pang magagawa.’ At noong medyo mabagal akong tumugon, dinagdag pa niya: ‘We will support you all the way.’ Sa loob-loob ko po, teka, kulang pa ba ang naibigay at pinagdaanan ko nitong mga nagdaang anim na taon?” Aquino said in jest.
(His question to me was: “What position are you running for in 2019?” I was taken aback and said “Ha?” His answer: “You’re still young, you can still do a lot of things. When I was slow to respond, he added: “We will support you all the way.” I thought to myself, wait, have I not given enough and gone through enough in the past 6 years?)
Aquino was all smiles as he shared his past conversation with ADMU President Fr Jett Villarin about the difficulties of the presidency.
There was a time when Villarin, former president of Xavier University in Cagayan De Oro, found out he was in the city and asked for a casual meeting.
“Sabi ko po sa kanya: ‘Pasensiya ka na, lima ang lakad ko sa Cagayan de Oro ‘tong araw na ‘to. Medyo masikip ang schedule.’ Napaisip po ako sa sumunod niyang reply, sabi niya: ‘Nauunawaan kita. Talagang mahirap iyang napasukan mo. Siguro diretso ka na sa langit,'” Aquino shared, eliciting laughter from the crowd.
(I told him: ‘Sorry, I have 5 meetings in Cagayan de Oro today. My schedule is a bit tight.’ I was struck by his reply: ‘I understand you. What you entered into is really difficult. Maybe you will go straight to heaven.’)
“Tanong ko po: Bakit niya nasabi ‘yun? Ang tugon niya: Kasi daw, parang nasa purgatoryo na ako dahil sa pinagdaraanan ko bilang pangulo ng Pilipinas. Ipagdarasal niya raw ako palagi,” Aquino said, making his audience laugh.
(I asked him why he said that. His reply: Because of what I go through as president of the Philippines, he feels like I’m already in purgatory. He said he would always pray for me.)
The President earlier told Rappler in an interview that he will only return to politics if there is a “need” that he must fulfill.
Otherwise, he looks forward to the “quiet life” that has eluded him throughout his political career and especially when he moved to Malacañang.
Aquino said he thought of what his mother, the late president Corazon Aquino, had advised one of her successors, whom he did not name. It applied to his own impending situation.
“Today, one of my first thoughts was she was advising one of her successors…[that] there is life after the presidency. So in politics, this is the penultimate job, going through all of the BS to get here and all the BS while in here. Unless there is really a need I need to fulfill, I look forward to a quiet life,” Aquino earlier said in an exclusive interview with Rappler.
Aquino is set to leave Malacañang noon of Thursday, June 30. (READ: A week before stepping down, Aquino says he’s ‘all smiles’)
Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr earlier said Aquino has started packing his stuff which will then be transferred to his newly renovated home in Times Street. – Rappler.com
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