Don Mayo on Federalism Don Mayo on Federalism Mayo G. Lopez

The Don is dead; federalism, atbp Featured

“DON Mayo is dead! Long Live Don Mayo!

We are just into the beginning of the new year and two events occurred: one is personal; and the other, institutional. But both related.

Mario Antonio “Mayo” G. Lopez passed away at dawn last Saturday, January 7, 2018. Very fitting indeed as this was the feast day of the “Three Kings,” the official end of the Catholic celebration of the Christmas season. I would like to believe that the three Magi from the past ushered out Mayo, escorting him to the Lord as they did visiting baby Jesus 2,000 years ago. But knowing Mayo, the reality in fact is more sanguine, if not dramatic. He exited this world “…on his own terms and at his own choosing.” What could be more histrionic than that! The bugger didn’t even wait for me to say goodbye. I texted Kuku, his wife, “ang haligi ng kanyang buhay,” for permission to visit him after the holidays as I had to spend Christmas with my grandkids in Davao. She said to visit anytime. I was in the 6:30 a.m. plane to Manila yesterday and reviewed FB postings and bedside photos with Mayo by Raffy Alunan and Babes Flores, our Harvard colleagues. And then this sudden news.
“Kuku, I’m inside the plane to Manila now when I got the news in FB. I was hoping to visit and see Mayo before he leaves us. Now I regret not flying from Davao earlier. I love the guy. I hope he forgives me.”

Her reply:

“Don Lito, he loves you too. And there is nothing to forgive. He knew you were with the family.”
I have this nagging feeling that Don Mayo left centerstage just before I flew in to see him to stress me out and to prove a point that he is in control. What impeccable timing for an exit scene.

“Don Mayo” and “Don Lito” were names we addressed each other. These titles underscore a special but quirky bondharking back to the early 1990s when we organized, along with Willy Villarama, Art Aguilar, Babes Flores and Angelo Reyes, the KSG-Harvard Alumni where they made me president for several years. Don Mayo was purportedly my “consigliere” although he was more a godfather than I. We were “conspirators” in one sense and spent time in idle chatter (whenever I flew in from Davao) concocting humorous scenarios and stories about our Harvard colleagues, with Kuku oftentimes berating us for being “unkind.” But mostly we analyze and critique most everything, especially official acts of government, from the administrations of Fidel, Erap, Gloria to PNoy, where our solution to the problems of the country was simple and elegant—“kill the miscreants.” Don Mayo may be snickering somewhere in the beyond to observe that the Deegong is now actually implementing our original solution.

Which brings me to the other facet of our relationship. I invited him to be a member of the Centrist Democracy Political Institute (CDPI) board of advisors. He was a valued member of the small group of political technocrats that help CDPI process centrist positions on issues of the day. Among those in the board are Pepe Abueva, CJ Puno, Rufus Rodriguez, Francis Manglapus, Ed Tayao, Philip Camara, Mon Casiple, Linda Jimeno, Malou Tiquia, Peter Koeppinger and Benedikt Seemann.

Don Mayo was my go-to guy when we formulate economic provisions some of which are incorporated in the “Centrist Proposal for the Revision of the 1987 Constitution”. We often clash and disagree on certain ideas on political economy but improving in the process overall quality of discussions. These documents are also partly a legacy of Don Mayo.

Towards the end, Kuku would accompany him to our CDPI board of advisors’ dinner-meetings, making this steadfast exemplar companion part of the proceedings. He was becoming weaker but still had his superb sense of humor. And upon meeting we still bow to each other on one bended knee and putting our right hand to each other’s forehead. He first, and I reciprocate; a ritual we last did in June of 2017. We will do this again when we next meet – but not sooner, I hope.

The Centrist proposal
The printed version of the centrist proposal in booklet form has just been released, courtesy of the Vibal Group (available upon request). It’s a pity that Don Mayo didn’t get his special copy. This week, Rufus Rodriguez, president of the Centrist Democratic Political Party (CDP) provided copies to each of the members of the House, the 23 members of the Cenate, justices of the Supreme Court and all members of the cabinet and PRRD and VP Robredo. The salient points will be discussed in my column next Thursday. But those serious adherents of federalism should refer to my Manila Times column article (“CDP roadmap to federalism,” May 11, 2017), or access

This version was presented to the Malacañang Press last September upon the behest of the then presidential spokesman, Secretary Ernie Abella. This was also printed in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) for a comparative analysis along with the PDP-Laban and the congressional committee versions. Hopefully, this will be taken up in the 25-man consultative commission of President Duterte, if ever.

Towards the end, Don Mayo and I were still texting about political and economic issues, but they became of lesser and lesser importance. His FB postings were becoming more personal, familiar and warmer with photos of his wife, Kuku, and family. Funny, but in some ways, we never did get to meet each other’s children, only our wives. Several months back, we decided to have dinner at La Cabrera with Kuku and his four sons. We postponed the date twice. His last txt to me was last October: “Don Lito, we’ll find time for our steak and wine dinner when my health improves.”
It never did.

So, Don Mayo, I will have that dinner with Kuku and your four sons after “babang luksa”– period of formal bereavement. Then Kuku, your sons and I will raise our glasses of Malbec, to our health and to your memory.

Salud! Please don’t expect to see me sooner.
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