THE simmering rivalry between Jinggoy Estrada and JV Ejercito is an interesting study in contrast. To begin with, Jinggoy is a showbiz personality and appears ahead in the contest for media mileage — JV is a silent worker and hardly bothers about publicity.
It would be nice to be able to size up how each progresses in the competition, but I have long given up on talking to Jinggoy. There was this incident back in 2016 when he was imprisoned at Camp Crame allegedly for having plundered some P50 million in connection with the Napoles scam. A friend, some kind of a media counsel for the senator, and I visited him in prison, wishing to get a firsthand account of his incarceration. Upon my friend’s introducing me to him as a columnist from the Manila Times, he remarked, “’Wag na ‘yang mga Manila Times-Manila Times na ‘yan. ‘Yang mga broadsheets, walang nagbabasa n’yan. Yung tabloid ang intindihin mo (Don’t bother about Manila Times and those broadsheets, nobody reads them. The tabloid, that’s what you should be minding).”
Certainly, I am mindful of the story of the brothers Abel and Cain, and I should right off determine who between Jinggoy and JV is Abel and who is Cain. But since I’d hate to start off this inquiry of sorts with one more insult like that one I got in Camp Crame in 2016, I’d rather begin on a good note.
These vignettes on JV’s life are a priceless wealth of human touches.
* * *
For three years after his birth, JV never got to say a word. Not that he was dumb, for he was not deaf. It was just that he would not speak. Then when he was three years old, seriously watching his father don his work suit, he suddenly spoke.
“Daddy, I love you,” JV said.
Agape with surprise, Joseph just found himself asking, “Why do you love me?”
“Because you love me, too,” went the boy’s answer.
Joseph turned to jelly. He hugged JV, who hugged him back tightly, warmly.
“I love you, Daddy.”
“I love you, son.”
* * *
On her knees and with the rosary clutched in her hand, she would walk the center aisle of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Baclaran, begging God to give her a child. She did the same to Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary of Manaoag, Pangasinan; St. Jude, The Apostle, patron saint of lost causes; St. Clare of Assisi, the patron saint of childless couples and good weather; and, yes, she swayed and swung among the thousands of devotees on the streets of Obando, Bulacan, doing the traditional fertility dance to the tune of “Santa Clarang Pinung-pino” on the feast day of St. Pascual Baylon.
On the matter, here’s this passage from an upcoming biography of JV’s mother, San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez:
“And then, did the heavens listen?
The Family Rosary Crusade
“At the end of the years-long episode of childlessness for Guia, came into the Philippines the Family Rosary Crusade of Father Patrick Peyton. The crusade was organized by the Irish priest, who attributed his cure from tuberculosis to the Blessed Virgin Mary through her apparition in Fatima, Spain. Debuting as a prayer session on a small radio station in Albany, the United States, the campaign was picked up by the largest US radio network, Mutual Broadcasting System, eventually promoting it to the entire American continent. In due time, a young advertising executive, Al Scalpone, donated his services to the campaign, and he came up with the slogan ‘The family that prays together, stays together.’ It was that slogan that virtually siphoned Filipinos in their great masses into the campaign when Father Peyton brought it to the Philippines in 1968. Wherever he paraded the image of the Our Lady of Fatima, thousands upon thousands hailed it with loud, heartfelt recitation of the Holy Rosary.
“Quite interestingly, just three months after the Family Rosary Crusade was begun by Father Peyton in January 1942, Guia was born, April 20, 1942. This illustrates that early on, Guia and the prayer campaign were fated to meet up with each other, at one time or another — for what purpose, only God knew.
“So it was that day the Blessed Virgin was brought to the Mt. Carmel Church in Quezon City. In deep reverence, Mayor Guia was reciting the Hail Mary with the multitude, imbuing her plea with her deep longing to have a child.
“And lo! The moment the image of the Lady of Fatima in the hands of Father Peyton passed her way, a great something ticked in her belly.
“‘That was it,’ recalls Mayor Guia. ‘I knew. I knew. Right after the ritual, I rushed home. Joseph was in a hurry to report for shooting and was very uncooperative when I pulled him to bed. ‘No, not now,’ he said. ‘As it is, I am already late,’ he said, pushing me off. But I kept pulling him to bed, struggling to lay him there, but he kept resisting as I turned to almost raping him.’
“Mayor Guia was only too aware of the meaning of the hour. Time and again, she had consulted with her gynecologist, who each time insisted that her physiological constitution allows her just one ovulation in a lifetime. This means she must hit it at the precise moment it came — or hit it nevermore.
“And so when Joseph, no longer able to resist, ultimately responded to the great outpouring of Guia’s ‘essence of a woman,’ the greatest love scene that ever took place happened — outside of the glare of klieg lights and unrecorded by the grind of the camera, but virtually witnessed by thousands upon thousands of praying masses, men, women and children, whose every phrase of their litany interspersing with every gentle touch of the couple’s lips, and every rasping of their hands on the soft mounds and crevices of each other’s body, all the way up to that ultimate moment of the merging of each other’s flesh: ‘Hail Mary full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus.’
“Nine months thence, the heavens celebrated with the joyous cry of a newly born babe: Joseph Victor.
“Why Joseph, is obvious. He was born as the fruit of years of prayers, in all nooks where God’s blessings through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary may be sought. As Jesus, God’s only son, must evoke the name of God, the Father, so must JV, himself an only son, carry as well the true name of his own sire, Joseph Ejercito.
“‘When JV entered politics,’ relates Mayor Guia, he made it a point to rupture from the traditional practice begun by Joseph himself of capitalizing on the movie name Estrada to ensure win in election. ‘Kung ilalaglag ko ang “Ejercito,” kawawa naman ang lolo (If I drop Ejercito, it’s unfair to grandpa),’ JV said.’
“Now, why the other name Victor?
“Because the day of JV’s birth — December 26, 1969 — is a day of victory.
“‘On that day,’ Mayor Guia says with an exquisitely glorious feeling, “the Supreme Court ruled that Joseph was the winner in the contested San Juan mayoralty race in 1967. Hence JV, Joseph the Victor.’”