WE should not insult the organizers with the claim that those who attended the “Choices and Voices” forum and participated in the mock election inside the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC) last Friday were “hakot.” No sirs, they were not bused to the CICC; they drove or were chauffeured in shiny cars and SUVs.

Not everyone was allowed to get inside the plenary hall where the forum was held. Only the businessmen and their guests were. The laborers, fishermen, farmers and all others were kept outside for obvious reasons. Otherwise, the CICC wouldn’t have only overflowed; the smell of the earth would have permeated the air-conditioned hall, overpowering the sweet scent of expensive colognes and perfumes.

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Give it to Gibo Teodoro. Or to borrow the language of Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, stop sour-graping. He won the votes in the CICC and he doesn’t have too many victories to gloat over.

They said the businessmen voted for the candidate who impressed them most during the presentation. Teodoro marketed himself very well, coming across with clarity.

They saw and voted for personality, not character. I doubt if the businessmen ever considered that this was the same Gilbert Teodoro, who as congressman, led the assault in the House against then chief justice Hilario Davide Jr., whom they wanted to impeach because the Supreme Court decided that the coco levy funds belonged to the government and not to his uncle, Danding Cojuangco.

I’m sure many of you have come across the following story that has been circulating in the Net for quite some time. Joy Gothong forwarded it to me yesterday. I am reprinting it because I find it relevant:

A politician died and was met at the gate by St. Peter.

“Welcome to heaven,” says St. Peter. “We seldom see a high official around these parts, you see, so we’re not sure what to do with you.”

“No problem, just let me in,” says the politician. “I’m sorry, but we have our rules.” And with that, St. Peter escorts him to the elevator and goes down, down to hell.

The doors open and he finds himself in the middle of a green golf course. In the distance is a clubhouse and standing in front of it are his friends and other politicians who had worked with him. They run to greet him, shake his hand and reminisce about the good times. Everybody is happy.

They have a friendly game of golf and then dined on lobster, caviar and the finest champagne. Also present is the devil, a friendly guy who was good with words.

“Now it’s time to visit heaven,” St. Peter announced. The politician then spends the next 24 hours with a group of contented souls playing the harp and singing. Afterwards, St. Peter asks him to make his choice. “Heaven has been delightful,” he replied, “but I think I would be better off in hell.”

St. Peter then escorts him down again and when the elevator opens, the politician finds himself in the middle of a barren land. He sees all his friends, dressed in rags, picking up the trash and putting it in black bags.

The devil comes over to him and puts his arm around his shoulders. “I don’t understand,” the politician said. Yesterday, I was here and there was a golf course and clubhouse and we ate lobster and caviar, drank champagne, danced and had a great time. Now there’s just wasteland full of garbage and my friends look miserable. What happened?”

The devil smiles at him and says, “Yesterday, we were campaigning. Today you voted.”

Be careful with what you bargain for.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)