Pareng Tito and Pareng Lito

Pareng Tito and Pareng Lito

It’s not just about winning or losing, but to learn about teamwork, learn about sportsmanship, learn about discipline. The value of working together for a common goal. Have the emphasis on fundamentals, not just games.

— Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra

Buhay Party-List Rep. Lito Atienza and Senate President Tito Sotto, both gunning for vice president in next year’s national and local elections

TWO friends are gunning for the second-highest position in the country—one is Senator Vicente ‘Tito’ Sotto III and the other, Buhay party-list representative Joselito ‘Lito’ Atienza Jr. The former I met when I was then working for the entertainment center at Celebrity Sports owned by businessman Ambet Figueroa and the latter when he was mayor of the City of Manila.

At Celebrity Sports entertainment center of boss Ambet, Senator Tito had accompanied his younger brother Marvic Valentin ‘Vic’ Sotto and ‘Eat Bulaga’ buddy Joey De Leon, who was going to while their time away by playing our ‘color game’ as they waited for their ‘call time’ for their noontime show.

The next time I met pareng Tito was when he was already a member of the Senate and was a guest in the calisthenics performance of my daughter Karin at Colegio de Santa Rosa in Intramuros. We had a few moments of casual talk and from there we became friends—not close but closely acquainted.

And again years past and I met pareng Tito on several occasions when he was invited as a guest panelist in several press conferences and media forums, among them the Roundtable at Holiday Inn, Kapihan sa Manila Hotel and the most recent (some two or three years ago) at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay hosted by our colleague Marichu Villanueva in the posh Café Adriatico restaurant in Malate, Manila.

What amazes me with pareng Tito is that he is someone with very good memory and on each occasion that we met, he would clearly call me pareng Tracy—as if we were neighbors in his village that often broke morning bread at his table.

On the other hand, pareng Lito was my official source for the articles I wrote for Times Journal when I was assigned to cover Manila City Hall. One thing admired about the mayor was that he was very articulate and could really explain matters to anyone in a clear and resonant voice.

I became even closer to pareng Lito when his son , Kim, became my kumpadre in the baptismal of the son of my neighbor Chito Baliao.

Both pareng Tito and Lito are good friends who never forgot about me or my name. They never acted as if they were standing on any pedestal because we talked ‘man-to-man’ on the occasions we brushed elbows in whatever event or activity. But let me say this, too, as a friend of both celebrated figures in public service, there was never an occasion that I used my position of being a journalist to ask favor from both of them (except one time, when I asked for ‘pocket money’ from pareng Lito because it was my first trip out of the country as a representative of the Journal Group of Publications covering the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Shanghai, China.

So, now that my two friends are running for the same position as vice president of the country, I am really in a quandary as to whom I should choose to vote in the forthcoming local and national elections in May next year.

Pareng Tito is one who takes his job as a public servant very seriously. He has never been absent or late during his long servitude as a senator to the Filipino people—something I dare say has not been done since the Senate was established after the Philippines was given authority to be independent and govern itself as a sovereign state.

Again, on the other hand, pareng Lito is someone with an open hand who can reciprocate and empathize with those in need while giving mutual respect to those people who seek his help. More than that, he is also someone who looks back to the past in order to map out the road to a better future for everyone.

The only misgiving, though, that I feel is that being vice president makes a public servant a mere spare tire for the sitting president. But from what I know about these two gentlemen, they will not be content just being so and will eventually initiate efforts to perform more than is required of them when one of them is elected as vice president by the Filipino electorate.

Suffice it to say then that whoever wins between them is surely going to be beneficial for our country.


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