THE TONDO BOY AND HIS C5
You grow up poor in Tondo, you learn early in life to adapt to its crude ways. Living among the vile and devious, for many of them live here in these parts, you pick up the skills and methods fast, if at first only to fit and survive, skills and methods these are, just the same, readily helpful and potent as elsewhere anytime. As in real estate business and in politics, for instance…
A friend grew up there too. Several times, he brought me and other friends to their family house, twice for their fiesta, and drank and slept there. If you’re the goody-goody type here, he would say, you don’t stand a chance, you’d be eaten alive. He regaled us with stories of his own shenanigans as a boy growing up in the neighborhood, his recollections of famous criminals he met or knew. “Tondo boy ito, ha!” he would say of himself. He wore his origins like a badge— and sort of a warning: here I am, a first-rate rascal, better beware! Indeed, he was. Making exceptions of us erstwhile friends seemed like a struggle.
So, when I first heard of Villar as a poor man from Tondo who made billions, it was “Tondo” that rang out loud, louder than the “billions”. If you should interpret Villar’s actuations, consider the Tondo boy in him, a Tondo boy with billions. I could imagine, if he were in the company of his tormentors on the C5 scandal, Madrigal and Juan Ponce Enrile, in the privacy of a room, he could be hollering to their faces, “damn hypocrites you all are!” or offering to make everybody happy, bargaining for a way out in the old Tondo fashion, Moriones market version.
I caught him on TV late afternoon yesterday delivering a privilege speech defending his “honor” over the C5 scandal after months of refusing to face his Senate colleagues over the issue. I watched for a time, unbelieving. Will he answer questions finally? This is all politics, he thundered over and over instead, a conspiracy hatched by those who hate seeing one from the margins rising to become President. In the middle of the speech, someone rose to pose a question. Villar signaled to be allowed to finish his speech first. I wanted to catch the part but I had to leave quickly for an appointment. No, he answered no question. News reported the next morning not how he replied to questions but how he strutted out of the Senate hall hastily just as soon as he finished, leaving his loyal defenders to do the answering for him.
Slick and sneaky, indeed, this poor boy from Tondo.
Everything you ever wanted to know about C5, by Winnie Monsod.