To my first boss, former VP Binay

To the man who can't keep still, who can never do nothing. I am grateful that through you I was able to give my voice a wider range. Thank you for the messages of hope that, over 5 years, I had to force into a mind clouded by disillusionment, spoken by a man of the masa (masses) who embodies what they can achieve through hard work, guts, and thick skin to ward off hurtful words. What more can one ask?

To the man who always kept me on my toes, alert to every need whenever I was with him, thank you. Throughout the hectic out-of-town sorties you have made me appreciate more the value of stillness, and of seeing the beautiful amid the ugly and mundane.

Most of all, despite the weariness from travel that still lingers in my bones, thank you, because through those travels, I have seen the enemy. I have seen poverty in its many faces. I have seen mobs smeared with grime, and people shit on highways next to low-set bamboo tables showcasing the wares, vegetables, or fruits that they were peddling.

I have smelled the stench caused by the lack of running water or a day's hard labor, made more intense as laborers massed together to hear the things they deserve from their government. I have heard people from places rarely visited by government – way before Leni Robredo and her laylayan became in vogue – and witnessed their amazement that someone would deign visit them – as if it were a gift from the gods rather than a right guaranteed them by the state. (READ: Binay's dream: PH where the poor get free pedicure, manicure

"Ay, ang liit niya!" "Ang itim niya!" "Parang tayo lang!" (He is small! He has a dark complexion! He is just like us!) 

How many times have I stopped myself from bawling out, or from shouting that I was rooting for them, that I hope they could rise above the squalor and the dirt and the wretchedness that bow their heads and backs, and keep them from seeing the cold comfort of the moon and stars, and make them curse the sun as an added burden?

Throughout this shared experience I have seen you now and then secretly wipe away the tears that threaten to gush forth from having witnessed the cruel inhumanity that many of our fellow Filipinos suffer. (READ: Binay: I will bear suffering for poor)

You are not the villain your opponents tried to paint you to be. You are the doting grandfather whose eyes light up immediately after seeing your grandchildren, proceeding to grasp their cheeks with both hands. Gigil. You are the Nognog that the common person could tease, touch, and laugh with.

You are the man who would not lie still, even when beaten; a real-life Gandalf whose unbounded spirit is forced to tolerate the limits of an old body, yet always, always, overcomes.

All in all, not too shabby, I guess, for a first boss. – 

Hans Pieter L. Arao, 28, is a former writer and media relations officer of former vice president Jejomar Binay. As a hobby, Hans scours the metro for cheap street food.