FVR's former writer remembers ex-boss who treated him like own son

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 01 2022 04:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 01 2022 06:18 PM

MANILA -- He was 21 years old when Jojo Terencio was hired as a writer of former President Fidel V. Ramos from 1992 to 1998.

On Sunday afternoon, when word about the unexpected demise of the former president started to circulate, Terencio’s initial reaction was to dismiss it.

Terencio later decided to verify it from Ramos’s family, and was shocked to receive a confirmation from them.

“Kahit ako na-shock… It was surreal, parang, totoo na ba to? Kasi hindi ba, ang dami-daming false news [dati]? I was really hoping na sana hindi ito totoo, na sana isa lang ito sa mga black propagandang umiikot," he said.

“Mahirap… Kahit hindi ako kapamilya, ngayon ko lang na-realize na ganun pala kasakit din. While I’m not a member of the immediate family. Nagtrabaho lang ako sa kanya. But maybe because of the goodness of the person. Na-maintain naman yung relationship even after his presidency. Masakit, malungkot. Lahat kami,” he added.

Terencio is author of the book “Behind the Red Pen,” which is a story about Ramos' own style of leadership, the president behind the news, and how he led the nation towards economic recovery.

Terencio said people he had worked with would usually tell him that the former President treated him like his own son.

As a young writer then, the President would summon Terencio to his office and teach him about government policies.

“Imagine I was 21 years old…. Presidency is something na hindi naman para sa mga bagito… He would call me and lecture me about the policy of the administration. Siguro para mas maintindihan ko in my young age, diplomacy, international relations, political cooperation, lahat yun nagkaroon ako ng lecture sa kanya. He was my mentor. Those were priceless,” he said.

Terencio said Ramos was known as a “workaholic” leader with a very high work ethic.

Now that Ramos is gone, Terencio has expressed his frustration that not all appreciate what Ramos had done for the nation.

Policies by Ramos, specifically about the contracts his administration entered with Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and his privatization of military camps, were all aimed at saving the country’s economy, Terencio said.

“Isa pa yung nakikita kong tawag sa kanya yung 'Boy Benta.' Yung privatization. Ang connotation nun, parang binenta mo ang lahat ng ari-arian ng gobyerno. But at that time, economic crisis, coming from the EDSA revolution, wala namang pera ang gobyerno di ba? So what do you do, instead of raising taxes, you have to tap the white elephant assets of the government,” he said.

Terencio’s only appeal to the people is to remember his former boss based on what he was able to do for the nation.

“I want the Filipino people to remember him as a leader who had the best interest of the Filipino people," he said.

Ramos, the country's 12th president, died on Sunday. He was 94.