(STAR) PEOPLE By Joanne Rae M. Ramirez - A few months ago, it was Sen. Chiz Escudero most people expected to be vying for space in their May 2010 ballot — either for president or vice president. He had an established party and was long seen as its anointed.

Edu Manzano was the popular game show host with a slew of endorsements and a myriad of suitors — political parties anxious to have him on their senatorial slate, that is.

Today, Edu is running for vice president under the most organized party in the land (the Lakas-Kampi CMD), has broken up with his girlfriend of five years and is looking forward to a tough but “winnable” fight ahead.

Today, Chiz is not running at all, for president or vice president (“I want to be president, but not at all cost. And vice president was never an option.”) He is looking forward to spending more quality time in the Senate (his term ends in 2013) and at home with his wife Christine and their twins.

So, why did Edu do it?

“Because Gibo (Lakas standard bearer Gilbert Teodoro) asked me, and I believe in him,” Edu told me over lunch the other day. “And he said he asked nobody else (with the exception of the incumbent Vice President Noli de Castro) but me.” Edu then tries to imitate the hand gestures of the hit song Nobody by the Wonder Girls.

“I have never turned my back on any call to serve our country and people. This I have proven as vice mayor of Makati from 1998 to 2001, and as chairman of the Optical Media Board, a position I held for almost six years,” he stresses.

The decision to run for vice president has cost him his five-year romance with broadcast journalist Pinky Webb. His eyes well up when he talks about their breakup, then he uses a starched white table napkin to keep the tears from falling. “She was hurt because we were friends and partners, and I made the public announcement of my candidacy without first consulting with her.” He also said his decision would have “endangered” Pinky’s career, but he did not elaborate.

Edu says the decision was split-second and made over coffee with Gibo and DILG Secretary Ronnie Puno on Friday the 13th of November, at the Makati Shangri-La. Edu says he first balked at making the announcement of his candidacy on a Friday the 13th, but both Gibo and Ronnie told him 13 was their lucky number. Edu said he tried to call Pinky just before he faced the cameras but she wouldn’t pick up (Edu says Pinky was then covering US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and so her phone was on silent).

So you chose politics over love, I press.

“No I chose patriotism over love,” says Edu. “I did it because I believe Gibo would make the best president for my children’s future. Victory for me would be to see him elected.” Edu has three kids, Luis, 29, Adie, 16 and Enzo, 15.

Our conversation is interrupted by a call from Edu’s cell phone. “I love you,” he tells the caller. “And I will pick you up later.” His eyes well up anew.

Have you reconciled with Pinky or is that a new girlfriend, I pry. “No, that was my daughter Adie,” he answers. “She just graduated from Antioch last Sunday and I am so proud at how God-centered she is in this day and age.”

“My great success in life is that despite my very public life I have kept my children sheltered. Luis, for one, only entered showbiz after college,” he says proudly.

* * *

At 54, who doesn’t want to have it all?

Edu believes that aside from his instantly recognizable face, his popularity and charisma, he brings into the Lakas team his good record as a local government official and as chairman of the Optical Media Board. During Edu’s term at OMB, the US government acknowledged the Philippines’ efforts to fight film and video piracy. During his stint, Edu received the Asia Pacific Copyright Enforcer of the Year award.

Also, he has no problem being Number 2 to Gibo if both of them are elected.

“I am a good soldier,” says Edu, who says he is related to his most formidable opponent in the vice presidential race, Sen. Mar Roxas. “If my leader points me in the right direction, I’ll get the job done.”

‘Not the right time’

If Edu is “Game na,” Chiz isn’t.

“It is not yet the right time,” says Chiz, who turned 40 on Oct. 10. In the next few months, he says he will focus not just on choosing the right candidate for president — but on campaigning for him.

“All of us have a duty not just to vote for the best candidate but to campaign for him,” believes Chiz.

I asked him who that lucky candidate might be, and he said, “I will announce at the right time.” (He did say to me once, when his plans were still fluid, that he could partner with any candidate except the ones from the administration party.)

Pressed to give one sterling quality of the candidate he would support, Chiz said, “At the very least, he should be honest.”

He also said that the presidency was “70 percent planning and 30 percent destiny.”

“And all it takes is one percent not to get it,” he said, adding, “You become president by fate and by faith.”

The shifting sands of politics are changing the landscape before us — monthly, weekly, daily, hourly.

In the end, those left standing on the shifting sands are those whose feet are grounded by destiny.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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