Monday, May 23, 2011


The 20-something’s say they try not let 83-year-old “boss” former President Fidel V. Ramos wear them down. It’s hard work being Ramos’ aides, they say, even if he happens to be their “Lolo Eddie”.

The three men – brothers Patrick, 20 and Bryan Jalasco, 19, and C.J. Sembrano, 22, are spending their summer as apprentices of the former President who’s in the United States to attend another granddaughter’s graduation, talk to potential investors, deliver speeches in several US universities, promote his books – including his latest entitled “Unsolicited Advise” – and his peace and development foundation, and meet with the Fil-Am community and veterans.

His schedule is enough to drain men half his age. After a 90-minute session with the Fil-Am media in Washington DC, Ramos dove straight into a crowd of about a hundred Fil-Am community leaders that packed Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy. That was his way of winding down the day – earlier he met with the DC-based policy adviser Centennial Group and the Emerging Markets Forum that he co-chairs with former IMF managing director Michael Camdessus.

“This summer we’re actually working for him,” Bryan tells us, “We always try to keep up with him. We do our best.”

Patrick and Bryan’s mother is Cristina Ramos-Jalasco, the first female president of the Philippine Olympic Committee. C.J. is one of two children of Carolina “Chula” Ramos-Sembrano who figured in a hit-and-run incident in 2003 that left her in a coma for a month. She survived but the trauma erased over 30-years-worth of memories.

“It feels tiring but at the same time it’s a learning experience,” C.J. shares the experience of travelling with his Lolo Eddie, “When we got to the hotel, we thought we could finally rest but then he told us to fix his books, to segregate them. So that was that.”

Ramos’ grinding schedule is renowned especially among reporters who’ve covered him, from his years as national police chief all the way to the presidency. The Armed Forces made sure it had a full complement of aides who rotated their schedule.

Some of those aides would eventually assume top military and police posts. On one trip to Bohol, Ramos decided to take a swim at one of the island’s pristine-white sand beaches, harvesting a pair of starfish that he playfully placed on the shoulders of his aide, then Capt. Avelino “Sonny” Razon. The “prophecy” came to pass of course because Razon became Director General of the Philippine National Police.

There’s no time to even meet new girls, the younger Jalasco insisted. “Wala eh, we’re always on the move, walang oras” Bryan says sheepishly.

His elder brother explained he decided to tag along for the education. “It’s a big responsibility knowing where he’s coming from. I’m studying political science (at Ateneo) so I’m picking up a lot of things following him around,” Patrick says.

Ramos showed no signs of slowing down. He told reporters at the press conference that there was no time to rest. There were opportunities beckoning for the Philippines and her leaders.

Offering his unsolicited advice to no one in particular, he exhorted “Don’t take any time-outs. It’s not even 24x7 if you’re there in Malacanang or in a sensitive Cabinet position, the work ethic should be 25x8. You’ll need to probably work 25 hours a day. That way you expand public service.”

As for me, I decided to cut and run from the evening’s coverage because I knew from years of reporting about Ramos, he was just warming up.


  1. Typical FVR. It's great to know that his grandsons are spending their summers with him, earning them life lessons and an education they will never get from UP, Ateneo or Harvard. And wise move, Rodney,you've learned your lessons well (at least by leaving earlywhile you still can (Marielle) :-)

  2. true Marielle. Natuwa lang ako (as only a fellow "lolo" can) seeing FVR's "apos" following him around. They looked like fine young men intent on learning from their lolo, and let's admit it, that can be quite an education. Time moves on and occasionally gives us pleasant surprises.