This is not an ordinary son-mother tandem. Let me introduce you to the letter writer, the son, Lorenzo Legarda Leviste, and his powerhouse mother Loren Legarda, a senatorial candidate for the Philippine elections, about to happen in 4 days.
On Monday, May 9, over 64 million voters will line up in their barangay (small town) public schools and offices to cast their votes for president, vice-president, senators, and local officials. Here's a reliable guide to the Philippine elections.
Loren Legarda is a former broadcaster turned politician. She has a long list of achievements including earning The Outstanding Women in the Nation’s Service (TOWNS) Award as a journalist and being a 3-term senator. Her name has been a staple in Filipino homes, as she reported on the latest news on our TV screens when I was a child. Later, she graced the news for her environmental contributions and political power.
Her son, Lorenzo Legarda Leviste was born in 1999, already famous for being born with the same surname. There isn't much written about Lorenzo but this open letter of grief, published by Rappler, made him mega-famous overnight.
It showed us how, easily (or difficult), a family can break apart because of political choices. What choices did they make to have gotten here?
Loren is running under the banner of UniTeam, the political party led by Bongbong Marcos Jr., the son of Ferdinand Marcos, the 10th president of the Philippines. Bongbong, also known as BBM, is now running for the presidency.
Lorenzo couldn't stomach her mother's relations with the Marcoses. He writes, "The decision she’s made is so profoundly unthinkable, unconscionable, unforgivable. In the last month, my entire life has collapsed. It is beyond a nightmare."
His mother, he says, seemed to have forgotten the atrocities that BBM's father's government committed against the Filipino people. He writes, "This is a woman who lived through Martial Law; she was once a journalist who taught me to value truth and justice."
The disdain is apparent to groups of friends who rally on the streets for their chosen political party, excluding friends who are for the other. I know a couple voting for two different presidents and are not talking about the elections. A group of friends kicked out a member because of her fondness for BBM. Neighbors and co-workers unfriend each other on social media when one posts a photo in favor of a candidate.
It's a sad and painful truth to see, but a reality to behold. In times like these, the Filipino stands up for what he believes in, setting aside familial relations and years-long friendships.
However, breaking relationships - especially the real ones built on trust and respect for one another - and burning bridges over a temporary reason (everything is temporary in Philippine politics!) serves no one.
At the end of his letter, Lorenzo writes, "F*** my mother for abetting this. Their crimes are her crimes now." A son threw a heavy accusation against his own mother through a letter that is available for the Filipino - and global - reading public.
Loren Legarda has not made any response or comment about this letter as of today.