This speech was delivered by former President Joseph e. Estrada during his 75th birthday celebration at Le pavilion in Pasay City on April 19, 2012.
MANILA, Philippines – Isang magandang gabi sa inyong lahat at isang mainit na pasasalamat sa inyong mga pagbati at pagdalo sa pagdiriwang ng aking kaarawan.
Sa palagay ko, tamang-tama ang timing ng selebrasyon ng aking ika-75 years dahil ito ang taon na dapat ideklarang year of the senior citizen.
Sa kasalukuyang impeachment trial, ang presiding officer, senior citizen; and defense counsel, senior citizen; may mga prosecutor na mga senior citizen; ang mga witness, senior citizen; ang akusado, senior citizen pa rin.
Kaya ang masasabi ko lang ngayon, this is the year of the senior citizen! At hindi pa tayo laos!
Tonight, I thank you for all coming to join us in the celebration of this milestone in my life. Your coming over to celebrate with me is gift enough for me.
I thank you all for the performances you gave tonight in my honor. I make special mention of thanks to my beloved daughter, Jackie, who spent sleepless nights to prepare this birthday party for me.
Hindi ko akalain, itong mga classmates ko at mga cabinet members, may mga talent palang tinatago. Pwede nang magbago ng career.
Hindi ko rin akalain na 75 years na pala ang nagdaan!
I look back thru the years of my life. I can only say, my life was one good journey with many surprises, many sidelights, many twists and turns, many side stories and many hidden details that are better left off as hidden.
They say that the impeachment trial that will resume next month in the senate is sui generis.
Ang ibig daw sabihin nito ay unique or one of its kind.
If that is the meaning, I am proud to say that my life and my career in public service can also be declared as sui generis.
But you cannot call me an iconoclast, which is the word I learned from the fighting-est senator of the senate, Senator-judge Miriam Santiago during the impeachment proceedings. Hindi lang fighting, brilliant pa!
I cannot be an iconoclast because I believe in following the constitution and the rule of law as well as established beliefs, traditions and norms.
From a multi-awarded actor, modesty aside of course, I went on to become film producer, mayor, senator, vice-president, president and a multi-awarded prisoner and detainee.
I was the president elected by a large majority of our people in clean, honest, fair and free elections. But I was also the president removed illegally and unconstitutionally by a conspiracy of a few ambitious politicians, a few members of the elite, and some segments of the church and the military.
I was not convicted in the impeachment trial and was not even able to present my side, my defense.
Kaya masuwerte ang chief justice sa kanyang impeachment trial ngayon dahil ang presiding senate president-judge ay hindi lamang kabisado ang batas at ang mga rules of court; hindi lamang mahaba at malawak ang karanasan sa paglilitis, kungdi, higit sa lahat, fair, objective and impartial.
Kaya kung siguro si Senate President-judge Juan Ponce-Enrile ang presiding officer noong impeachment trial ko, sigurado ko magiging patas ang laban.
Matagal ang pinagsamahan namin ni Senate President Enrile. Dalawa lang kaming nahalal noon sa oposisyon pagkatapos ng people power. Magkatabi kami sa upuan, dahil alphabetical ang seating arrangement.
Si Senate President Enrile ang mentor ko sa senado hanggang ako ay naging presidente. Ngayon siya naman ang tutor ni Senator Jinggoy. Kaya pareho kami ni Jinggoy na alumni ng “Enrile College of Law.” Kaya Manong Johnny, saludo kami sa iyo!
Pero ang masasabi ko siguro, ako ang maituturing na veteran at pioneer ng impeachment sa Pilipinas.
Marami akusasyong ipinaratang sa akin. Mabuti na lang may kadamay na ako ngayon. Iyong kinalalagyan ni GMA ngayon, duon ako galing.
Now i understand what poetic justice means.
On hindsight, I realize that it is not only me who is victim of injustice and put to jail. I join the ranks of Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Anwar Ibrahim of Malaysia, the dissident Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, and of course, the late Senator Ninoy Aquino.
We were all convicted which makes us men of conviction. I could have avoided conviction when i was offered to leave the country twice on condition that i will resign as president. But because of my conviction, i refused to leave the country.
Today, my life has gone full circle. I have my ups and downs. I thank first and foremost the lord almighty for the many blessings he has showered on me. He has given me much and I realize I have given so little.
But I remain grateful because I know that I continue to be blessed. I am blessed with family and friends like all of you!
The Lord has showered me with many fortunes even if he has also given me many trials for which I will always be thankful. He has given me a good life and a good wife with a good career. For a college drop-out, that must be something.
In all these trials, I can only be happy for in the end, it has served to enrich me, to strengthen me, and enhance in me a brighter perspectives and outlook in life. Out of these trials, I believe I have become a better person.
Totoong ipinagdasal ko na ako ay mahalal na maging successful actor, film producer, mayor, senator, vice president at president.
Ibinigay itong lahat sa akin ng diyos na maykapal, pero hindi ko naman ipinagdasal na matanggal ako sa puwesto at makulong.
For the record your honors, dalawang beses na akong natatanggal sa puwesto.
Tinanggal ako noon bilang mayor ng San Juan. Tapos tinanggal pa rin ako bilang pangulo.
After my conviction, I was given pardon.
Kaya ang sabi ni Mama sa akin noong nabubuhay pa, hindi mo na tinapos ang pag-aaral mo; hindi mo tinapos ang termino mo bilang mayor ng San Juan; hindi mo rin tinapos ang termino mo bilang presidente; ngayon, pati sentensiya mo, hindi mo rin tinapos! Mamatay na lang ako, wala ka pang tinatapos.
And because of this pardon, I have also now pardoned those who have offended me, without any bitterness, without any anger, without any hate.
I took the words of the Lord’s Prayer very seriously when we ask him in this prayer to forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespassed against us.
We therefore pray for the Lord almighty to forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. That is something I have taken to heart.
Mahatma Gandhi said, and I quote so I will not be accused of plagiarism – that “the weak cannot forgive because forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” You will be happy if you give and forgive.
This is the very reason why I am happy on my birthday. I have every reason to celebrate. I have released myself from the burdens of anger and bitterness, which is why I am celebrating today beyond my golden years.
I am no longer carrying the burdens and crosses of the past. I am now determined to enjoy my diamond year.
My life as a public servant has been a challenging one because people made fun of my English. That was my patented trademark and I thought I should make my mentors and classmates at Ateneo frown a little when I mangle the beloved English language.
We need to have a good laugh always because as the great artist and comedian, Charlie Chaplin once said, and I quote, “a day without laughter is a day wasted.” But of course, I had the last laugh. I became president.
But I was always underestimated because I was a college drop-out. They cannot accept me because I am just an actor.
But I always considered myself in good company because if Harry Truman, Grover Cleveland and Abraham Lincoln who were college drop-outs can become presidents of the most powerful nation in the world, why not me? And if John Major, another college drop-out, can become the prime minister of the United Kingdom, why not me?
And if an actor like Ronald Reagan, a class B movie actor, can become president of the most powerful nation in the world, why not me? So you see, i am in good company.
I maybe a college drop-out but I understood the plight of our poor people. As an actor, I took on roles of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed.
Kaya masasabi ko, pinag-aralan ko ang buhay at hirap ng labor leader, NPA rebel, taxi driver, jeepney driver, farmer, waiter, squatter, gangster, sorbetero at taga-buhat ng karneng baboy sa matadero.
I learned from the lives of these sectors of society and I learned their plight by heart. I got an education from them that cannot be learned even from the best universities in the world.
Kahit graduate ka ng Harvard o ng Oxford, hindi mo matutunan duon ang iba’t-ibang problema ng sektor ng mahihirap.
My life in detention was however a lonely one, deprived of my freedom and away from the society of my loved ones, friends and supporters who I love so dearly.
But it was a liberating and enriching experience. I learned there that one moment, you can be on top. The next day you can be down below, alone, miserable, distressed and harassed.
Those were the times I identified myself with our people. Like many of them I was denied justice and wrongfully incarcerated.
But today, I have proven to myself that I can rise above all these trials and burdens. I am convinced that our country can be the same and rise above the difficulties and hardships that we endure.
But of course, my true value today can be measured also in terms of my children who are now here today. I thank them for supporting me and celebrating with me, some have even come from abroad. They are my exhibits in evidence of a truly productive life.
But please don’t take it against me if I took the bible message too seriously when it said, “go forth and multiply.”
I must also acknowledge with deep gratitude my thanks to Dra. Loi who has been most understanding and tolerant of me.
Siya lang, again for the record your honors, ang kaisa-isang babaeng pinakasalan ko.
I must acknowledge that she loved me for what I am and not for what I have or what I have become. She sacrificed being ostracized and ridiculed by her fellow medical doctors when she married me at the time I was just an ordinary mimeograph operator of the then National Mental Hospital.
Imagine, isang kagalang-galang na doktora, seksi pa at saksakan ng ganda nuon hanggang ngayon, pumatol sa akin noon.
Kaya naman, nagsikap ako, kaya siya naging first lady ko at naging senadora pa! Mayroon talaga siyang foresight!
So Loi, thank you for all these years. But you have to admit, we are now both senior citizens.
I also take this opportunity to thank my family and friends for being with me all the years of my life.
You know who you are because you have, at one time or another made or is making a difference in my life or in my career.
I thank the members of my cabinet who stayed behind me. I appreciate your loyalty but more than this, let me thank you all for ensuring that all contracts that we approved and which I signed were not tainted by any anomaly or contracts disadvantageous to the government.
When I was incarcerated, the Department of Justice even formed a task force to scrutinize all these contracts to pin me down. They were disappointed because they cannot find any wrongdoing and all were above board. That is why I am proud of my cabinet. They are men of unquestionable integrity and competence I thank you all for giving me the best service and support any president can have.
I cannot make mention individually of my allies in politics who during those crucial and critical years of my life, continued to sympathize with me and gave me much encouragement and strength.
I believe it is because of you that I was able to overcome the difficult moments of my removal as president and my subsequent detention in Camp Crame, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Veterans Medical Memorial Hospital, Camp Capinpin and in the resthouse in Tanay.
During those difficult times, I knew I was not alone because you were with me and you and your prayers gave me strength and faith.
I must however single out one very close friend, my buddy, Fernando Poe, Jr. who, I am certain is here with us because he never missed any of my birthday celebrations. FPJ gave me a neat lesson in friendship.
His political enemies accused him of not being a natural born Filipino. But the truth is he was more Filipino than anyone of them. He gave the Filipino people much of himself while those opponents who insulted him were the ones who stole and cheated the Filipino people.
He was with me all the way, and during my run for the presidency in 1998, he was always there and never left me. When I became president, he never asked me any favor; he never asked for an appointment nor did he ask that any of his friends be appointed to any position.
I am deeply saddened that when he ran for president, I cannot be there because, as you know, I was detained.
FPJ and I were contemporaries in the movie industry. We had the same career. We both established ourselves as action stars. We both became movie producers. We both became hall of famers in the FAMAS, and we both went into politics, nauna lang ako. He did not exactly like politics but because of the clamor, he ran for president.
Pero pareho din ang aming naging kapalaran sa pulitika. Ako ay ninakawan ng puwesto bilang pangulo samantalang siya naman ay dinaya sa pagka-pangulo. Kaya, sa madaling salita, pareho kaming macho, pareho kaming naisahan hindi namin akalain ng isang small lady.
Pero ang katotohanan, hindi lamang kami ang naisahan. Naisahan ang buong sambayanang pilipino noong nag-nakaw ng posisyon, nagnakaw na pondo ng bayan, pati mga boto, ninakaw pa rin.
Wherever you may be, Ronnie, I thank you but I am not inclined to join you yet. But definitely I will see you again I just don’t know when.
Aquino and Binay
Of course, i must also acknowledge and thank here my running mate, the hard-working Vice President Jojo Binay.
Hindi ko rin akalain, siya lang ang mananalo at ako ang matatalo. Pero saan man siya makarating, siya ay ituturing kong laging partner ko, lalo na sa marangal na paglilingkod sa ating mahihirap na mga kababayan.
I also take this opportunity to express my thanks to the nation’s most eligible bachelor, President Nonoy Aquino III, for honoring us tonight with his presence. By the way, in case you need a consultant on your lovelife, I may be able to help you, Mr. President.
When I was president and he was a congressman, I asked him to join me in my state visits. I already recognized his potential as a leader. He has good breeding because of a distinguished father and a mother president most-loved by the Filipino people. I thought that he will have a good future in politics and may even become president.
Hindi ko lang akalain siya pa ang makakalaban ko at siya pa ang tatalo sa akin. Kaya bilib na ko sa iyo, Mr. President. Saludo ako sa iyo at umasa ka, kasama mo kami sa kampanya mo laban sa corruption.
Somebody has said and I quote, that “age is strictly a case of mind over matter. But if you don’t mind, it does not matter.”
What matters more is how you have used your years and your time in this world.
I have dedicated myself today not in retirement, but in active service of helping the poor, because they have supported me in all my life, as an actor, as public servant, and even as detainee.
Gaya nga ng laging kong sinasabi, mamatay, mabuhay si Erap, hindi makakabayad ng utang na loob sa ating mahirap at mga kapus-palad na mga kababayan.
Somebody had said that when the rich and poor die, they both lose. That is correct. The only difference is that when the rich dies, he loses the pleasures of life. But when the poor dies, he can only lose its pain.
General Douglas McArthur once said that old soldiers never die; they just fade away. I disagree. We must not fade away. Let not our legacies fade away. Let them shine and brighten up as a candle of wisdom to guide the coming generations of Filipinos.
I hope that we can impart and leave them a nation they can be proud of. We may fail today, but as Vice President Joseph Biden of the United States keep on repeating, “failure is inevitable, but giving up is unforgivable.” there is no perfect life.
We must keep on trying even if we fail again and again. We will rise up again and again, and we must never give up.
Sa pagkakataong ito, muli kong ipinaaabot sa inyong lahat ang aking pasasalamat sa inyong mga panalangin, pagdamay at pagbati.
Magsama-sama tayong manalangin sa ating panginoon para mahango sa kahirapan ang ating mahihirap na mga kababayan at tayo ay mabigyan ng maunlad, mapayapa at makatarungang kinabukasan sa pamumuno ng ating pangulong noynoy at pangalawang pangulong jojo binay.
Maraming salamat at magandang gabi sa inyong lahat. – Rappler.com