Variety show meets political rally in Erap bash

Ayee Macaraig

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Former President Joseph Estrada's 75th birthday party brings together the biggest names in politics, entertainment and business

MANILA, Philippines – What do you call a cross between a variety show, a concert, and a miting de avance? The Erap birthday bash.

Former President Joseph “Erap” Ejercito Estrada brought together the biggest names in politics, entertainment and business all under one orange roof as he celebrated his 75th birthday in Le Pavillon, Pasay on Thursday, April 19.

In a rare occasion, President Benigno Aquino III and Vice President Jejomar Binay both stayed in a social event from start to finish. The party lasted about 4 hours.

Aquino’s sister, Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, and Binay’s children were also present.

Also in attendance were Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, House Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr., former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr and several senators.

From show business, there were Susan Roces, Boots Anson Roa, Lorna Tolentino, Ricky Davao, Rex Cortez, and the Gutierrez family, among others. Businessman Ramon Ang also dropped by to wish Estrada a happy birthday. 

Estrada played host to about 1,000 guests in the birthday extravaganza that included skits, and song and dance numbers in his honor. His children, grandchildren, friends, classmates, and even Cabinet members gamely performed to entertain the crowd and the birthday boy.

Still, the celebrant was the star of the night.


Estrada was the best entertainer as he capped off the night with a speech both reflective and comic. It featured his famous jokes known as “Eraptions.”

In looking back at his 75 years, Estrada used two words popularized in the impeachment trial of Chief Justice Renato Corona: sui generis and iconoclast.

“They say that the impeachment trial that will resume next month in the Senate is sui generis. Ang ibig daw sabihin nito ay (They say this means) unique or one of its kind. If that is the meaning, I’m 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,” he said. “I cannot be an iconoclast because I believe in following the Constitution, the rule of law and the established beliefs and norms.”

In the impeachment trial, Sen Miriam Defensor Santiago used the word iconoclast to describe defense witness Navotas Rep Tobias “Toby” Tiangco. Incidentally, Tiangco was also in the party as an Estrada supporter.

Estrada said that from being a multi-awarded actor he went on to become a film producer, mayor, vice president, president and “a multi-awarded prisoner and detainee.”

In his speech, Estrada again stressed that he was removed from office in 2001 by what he calls a conspiracy of the elite: politicians, businessmen, and members of the Church and military.

Estrada said he is the “pioneer and veteran” of impeachment in the Philippines.

Buti na lang may kadamay na ako ngayon.” (It’s a good thing someone else shares the experience now.)

The former president did not stop there.

In reference to his detained successor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he said, “’Yung kinalalagyan ko sa Veterans, ay meron na rin akong kapalit.” (In my detention facility in Veterans Memorial Medical Center, I also have a replacement.)

‘Presidential Love Life Adviser’

Estrada paid tribute to the political heavyweights in the crowd.

He praised Enrile as a fair judge in the impeachment trial and a loyal friend. He said Enrile was his mentor in the Senate and now the tutor of his son, Sen Jinggoy Estrada.

Kaya pareho kami ni Jinggoy na alumni ng Enrile College of Law. Manong Johnny, I salute you.” (Jinggoy and I are both alumni of the Enrile college of law.)

The defeated presidential candidate also honored Vice President Jejomar Binay as hardworking, and called him his partner “no matter how far he goes.”

Yet Estrada got the loudest cheers as he addressed Aquino, calling him “the nation’s most eligible bachelor.”

I also take this opportunity, President Noynoy. I am offering myself to be your adviser in your love life, that is in case you need a consultant in your love life. I will be able to help you Mr President,” said Estrada, a known lady’s man.

As president, Estrada said he got to know Aquino as a congressman whom he thought to have a good future in politics and even saw as a potential president.

“’Di ko akalain siya pala ang makakalaban ko at siya pala ang tatalo sa akin. Kaya, Mr. President bilib ako sa iyo. Saludo ako sa iyo at makakaasa ka, kasama mo kami sa kampanya mo laban sa korapsyon.” (I never thought I would run against him and he would be the one to defeat me. I salute you and we are with you in your campaign against corruption.”

Machos vs little girl

Estrada also devoted a portion of his speech to honor the memory of his friend, the late actor and presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr.

Poe ran but lost in the 2004 polls against Arroyo allegedly due to cheating.

Estrada said he and Poe shared the same fate in acting and politics. After earning awards and becoming film producers, the friends ended up in politics where the presidency was stolen from them.

Pareho kaming macho sa pelikula, machong-macho. Pareho kaming naisahan. (We were both macho in the movies, so macho. But we were both cheated.)

Again, he made a reference to Arroyo.

“‘Di naming akalain ang iisa sa amin ay small, little girl.” (We never thought we would be outwitted by a small, little girl.)

Estrada said, “Wherever you may be Ronnie, I thank you but I’m not inclined to join you yet. But definitely, I’ll see you again. I just don’t know when.”

Not retiring yet

Even at 75, Estrada said he is not yet retiring so he can help poor people.

‘They have supported me all my life, as a movie actor, public servant and even as a detainee …. Poor people never left me.”

“They are always there kaya wala akong sawa na sinasabi, mamatay at mabubuhay si Erap, hindi makakabayad ng utang na loob sa mahihirap.” (I will never tire of saying that Erap will die and live but would still be unable to pay his debt of gratitude to the poor.) –

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