A good friend from high school is deposed president Erap Estrada’s spokesperson. (Don’t ask me about hows or whys.) If you’re not Filipino you may not know that he was an actor-turned-mayor-turned-president who was impeached on corruption charges. He also inspired a revolution by the poor, then was imprisoned by the current president’s administration. For the longest time, he was also the country’s most popular punch line, via emails and text messages.
My father would send out Erap jokes daily (“Why does Erap like a BMW better than a Volkswagen? He can spell BMW.”) so it was ironic/surreal when M texted me: “Do you want to meet Erap? Meet me outside the Cafe in 5 minutes.”
The traffic was pretty horrible so I waited for about 20 minutes. I wondered what ex-president’s cars looked like. Of course he had a wangwang and a siren, and two escorts (front and back) that stopped traffic before the car (a black Mercedes Benz) pulled up in front of me. M got out, and so did Erap.
We got introduced amidst gawking passersby (hey, how often do you have a presidential sighting on a Baguio sidewalk near jeepney stands?). On his left hand, he wore his signature wristband, white, with a gold presidential seal. (Why does Erap wear a wristband? So he can tell his left from his right.) I shook that hand.
I thanked him for bringing my friend to the Cafe and invited him to dinner, but he said he already had a dinner date and politely refused.
Then, as M and I were walking away, I realized I missed a photo op, so we ran back to the car. M asked Erap to roll down the window so she could take our photo, but his car started moving, so she only got this:
At the restaurant, M called him again to thank him for dropping her off. She added, laughing, “Sir, kilig na kilig yung kaibigan ko dahil na-meet ka nya, hindi na daw sha maghuhugas ng kamay FOREVER!” (“Sir, my friend was so thrilled to meet you that she said she’s not going to wash her hands EVER.”)
Erap started laughing, then replied: “Gusto nya, next time, halikan ko nalang sha para hindi na sha maghugas ng bibig!” (“Next time I’ll just kiss her so she’ll never wash her mouth!”)