It was in early September that I was called to the office of Sec. Gilbert Teodoro. His chief of staff had contacted me the day before to say that he had something important to discuss with me. I had met Gibo together with his team for the first time only a week prior to this occasion for exploratory talks regarding his on-line strategy.
He was alone in his office and after exchanging the usual niceties he began to discuss what he had called me in for. He told me that there was a chance that his party would nominate another candidate for president, and, if they did, he would no longer be running.
Simply put, Gilbert Teodoro’s political future had suddenly become uncertain. Then came a question that surprised me that I felt my jaw drop a little. He said, “Rafa, you and your group have contributed so much work to my campaign. I believe that just because things may not work out for me that you should not be left out in the cold, considering you devoted your time, ideas and resources to meet with my staff and myself.”
He continued, “I believe a good day’s work deserves good pay. So I’d like to know, how much do you think you should be paid for your services regardless of whether I run or not? Tell me because I’d like to pay you now.”
Friends, I come from a diverse business background—I’ve dealt with many unsavory characters, met with cheating varmints of all degrees, faced a lot of disappointment. I know what it’s like for a man to look me straight in the eye and say, “Rafa, we will do business with you,” only to find out that either they steal my ideas and take it as their own, or, at best, don’t call back. To be offered payment, even if was only fair, was about as rare as keeping a convicted Filipino politician from running for office.
On my way out, I told Gilbert, “Win or lose, I am backing you up all the way.” I thanked him for his kind gesture, for being so selfless and thoughtful and for being so classy, to which he simply said, “Rafa, I consider you a friend.”
Gilbert Teodoro could have left me out in the cold, and it probably would have been okay in the business sense, but he chose not to. He put his interests aside and did what was decent and what was proper in the privacy of his office, with no cameras rolling. He treated me with dignity and respect.
This encounter led to numerous other instances that allowed me to witness Gilbert Teodoro’s admirable character:
• He’s a hands-on father. At least thrice he brought his son along to our dinners, meetings, and shootings. Despite his demanding schedule, he consistently finds ways to spend time with family.
• He’s a hands-on leader. Of all my political clients Gibo was the only presidential candidate who took the time to listen to me personally and meet with my group on more than one occasion.
• Even in private, he avoids speaking negatively of his competition. I am guilty of sharing with Gilbert a thing or two about my disgust towards certain politicians. He listened closely, but never spoke ill of them or anyone else.
• He is always very courteous. During our meetings, not a single time did he interrupt, pick up the phone, or start conversations with the people seated next to him. He would wait until the very end to ask his questions.
• He is a well-rounded individual. You can talk to Gilbert about anything. Food, cooking, music, politics, and always maintains a good sense of humor. In fact after one meeting, we kicked back by listening to local rock bands, Sandwich and Itchy Worms.
• He is really magaling and matalino. In one of our shoots, I showed Gilbert the script for his two-part Christmas message. The entire script was written in English. He looked at it for a couple of minutes and said, “Okay, I got it!” When the cameras started rolling he converted the entire message into Tagalog on the spot. The commercial was shot in one take. Check it out here http://www.youtube.com/wat
Friends, when you choose your candidate, all I ask is that you make sure you can live with your decision for the next 6 years. Win or lose, I will have absolutely no regrets because over the past several months I’ve learned a lot about what the significance of a Teodoro victory will represent for the country.
It means that you can win an election through your own merits even if you don’t have the name recall or iconic parents. That even if all the odds are against you. there is no reason to step on other people. That a man does not have to spend billions to tell the nation that he is pro-poor. That a defining moment in a political career is not as important as the way you redefine the meaning of being a public servant.
Peace be with you.
*source: R.A.'s FB note.