Until now, I have yet to choose what to write on the field labeled as President on the ballot come May 2010. But as of now, it is a toss up between abstain and Chiz Escudero.

Hours before his supposed bombshell, my curiosity prompted me to call a friend who is working for a political marketing firm connected to Senator Chiz Escudero. I asked if they have any idea what would be in store for the said Senator’s press conference that morning. My contact said that they’re not anymore connected to Sen. Escudero. “But you are frat brods, ” I told him and he retorted, “I support him in my personal capacity but I really don’t know what he is supposed to announce today.”

That is very unusual as that person is very much willing to share political information to me as a quid pro quo to me sharing the things I know.

So while I’m at work, I took time to refresh three Philippine news sites (abs-cbnnews.com, gmanews.tv and inquirer.net) every now and then as I don’t want to be left behind about this. And then, the headlines graced Sen. Escudero’s shocking pronouncement that he is resigning from the Nationalist People’s Coalition, his party for the past 11 years.

At first, I don’t know how to react. Instead of dousing water on my curiosity, the information spawned more questions. Does Danding know? How about the NPC leadership? What would Chiz do now? If he runs, who’ll be his machinery?

That confusion continued until the evening news interview between Ted Failon and the senator. But that time, it wasn’t about Danding or the NPC any longer, not even about Chiz’s presidential plans (or the lack of it) or his machinery (or the lack of it again) anymore. My final confusion on the issue is why the senator, known for his courage, isn’t answering Failon’s questions in his trademarked bravery and straightforwardness. Is it because answering it frankly would hurt Danding and the NPC?

I am happy that Chiz, still my favored presidential candidate (Noynoy as far second and the others farther), is the first one to categorically state his position on critical working class issues like labor contractualization. It is way better than Aquino’s motherhood statements, Villar’s non-committal stance and Erap’s demagoguery.

But I’m still finding it hard to fully support him because there seems to be something hidden behind his evasion of Ted Failon’s questions. And when I chanced upon a well-known law dean yesterday, he informed me that his contacts are telling him that Escudero is still a presidential contender.

Yes, I believe that Chiz is still running but, for now, I’m still leaning to abstain. Not until he is courageous against Danding and NPC as he is against Gloria and Lakas-Kampi.

During one of my visits at the Kaisa Headquarters in time for the upcoming USC Elections in UP Diliman, Sanlakas Youth Vice Chair BJ Costales introduced three of his slatemates for an orientation to our organization.

They are BJ’s co-councilor Jose Alinea of the College of Engineering, Tourism Representative Sheena Botiwey and Science Representative Gino Leynes.

Each one of them exudes a leader’s presence at first glance and they were eventually recruited to Sanlakas Youth.  I had a couple of chit-chats with each of them hours after but Jose’s story is the most interesting for me. His story speaks alot of his character.

Jose is one of the living reasons why the tuition increase should not have been approved two years ago. He is also one of the greatest arguments in support of the assertion that the STFAP has never been effective to aid poor-but-deserving students in pursuing UP education.

This Sta. Rosa Science High School alumnus told me that both his parents are unemployed. His mother was actually problematic about his college education after he failed to qualify for Bracket C of the STFAP. So despite his family’s obvious difficult condition, UP is still requiring him to pay 600 pesos per unit.

It is a good thing though that through his intelligence and diligence, he managed to be a scholar of the Department of Science and Technology.

But I’ve never seen him as a grade-conscious student. All the support that he is getting from his officers and co-members from the Philippine Society of Mechanical Engineers speaks a lot how active he is.

And as we unify Kaisa member-organizations about a disqualification case against his and some of his slatemates’ candidacy, it turned out that NCPAGSC Vice Chair Jhai Galenzoga is one of his dormmates, at the Yakal Residence Hall, and she was disheartened of the possibility of UP students being robbed of the opportunity to vote someone like Jose.

“Napakasipag na bata pa naman ni Jose,” Jhai disappointedly commented. Well, as a frequent visitor of the Kaisa HQ and as a keen observer of candidates’ behaviour, I must agree.

That same day that I managed to inform Jhai of the disqualification issue, Kaisa marched towards Quezon Hall and met with another party, Stand UP, to protest the said USEB decision.

The unity of Kaisa and Stand UP that night bore fruit as it produced enough pressure to make the USEB decide in favor of the supposedly disqualified candidates including Jose.

That night, cheers reverberated at the Kaisa HQ in celebration of that victory. And as I observe all of them, Jose is there silently smiling in his usual unassuming way.

I hope he is thinking that it is a good thing that he is now given a chance to fight for the rights of students like him; of working class origin.

I have to explain to my team leader and teammates why I can’t attend the Batangas team get-away. And I told them the truth. I won’t miss this year’s Labor Day protests. As our teammate (and future team lead) Jeremy puts it, “Wala na pala tayong no choice.”

My shift ends at noon that day so I had to rush downstairs to call anyone from the march to updated where should I proceed. I immediately called Aaron of Sanlakas Youth after grabbing my phone out of my locker.

Pa-Mendiola na kami. Recto daw ‘ata ito.”, the Cebuano student leader, sounding not too sure, answered when I asked where they are already. His stay for 2 semesters at the San Beda College of Law before seems not enough to learn the confusing streets of Metro Manila’s urban jungle.

I, then, rode a cab thinking that heavy traffic is expected along the usual jeepney route. As always, I navigated the cab through Quezon City and Manila’s inner streets and I was already at Mendiola right when the frontline is about to cross the Recto-Legarda intersection.

The sun is hot enough to give other teams back at work the impression that I attended our team’s beach activity. The heat is really scorching that not a few protesters can’t fight the temptation of going to the sidewalks, where there are a lot more shade than in the streets, to rest.

The Mendiola program is short. I greeted several comrades, waved and danced with a flag and sang the Internationale with the rest of the working class on our birthday. Yes, I am officially a part of the labor sector.

After the program, we, nearly all of us in our 20’s (except for Rasti… hehe), ate at a nearby hole-in-the-wall carinderia along Gastambide. We rested there for a while and with our stomachs full, walked towards España as all of us are QC-bound.

Pia Montalban, the blogger-activist from the group PUNYAL that I met at the Student Summit weeks ago, went with me at home to drink a couple of Super Dry with some political pep talks as pulutan. She actually requested a talk back then regarding my take on several issues, mainly political and some organizational about the left.

She went home at about 8pm and I proceeded to a new hang-out along Kalayaan Avenue to dine and drink with a Aaron, Rasti, Jofti, Rhodz and Job. Sato, Iris and Jan of UP Diliman came along afterwards.

A few quaffs of a German beer, the name of which I can’t pronounce and the spelling I can’t remember, capped my first May 1 as a salaried slave. Happy birthday to me!