By JOEL GUINTO
THE birthday boy said he wanted to “hang loose,” with no to talk of politics, but his guests, which included power players from politics and high society, and even “Erap,” thought otherwise.
At the stroke of midnight on Saturday, they toasted Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. on his 45th birthday, and wished him success in his bid to become the country's next president.
Several bars in the packed hall at Blue Leaf in The Fort, Taguig, churned out glass after glass of the night's signature cocktail which was named after the birthday celebrant—“Gibo,” a sweet and fruity, but lethal mix.
The drink was green, which is shaping to be Teodoro's campaign color. That night, he wore a white shirt with pale green stripes over blue jeans. His wife, Tarlac Representative Monica Prieto-Teodoro was in a pale gray off-shoulder number that tastefully displayed her fashion model form.
“It took us several tastings before we settled for this,” Teodoro said of his namesake drink.
In a speech after his birthday toast, Teodoro urged his guests to “hang loose because tomorrow is another hectic day.”
Bukidnon Governor Joe Zubiri then took to the stage and said: “I'm sorry, Gilbert. That's how we are in my family. When we trust a candidate, we can trust only that candidate... You are the best at this time.”
“Northern Luzon will support you. Mindanao will support you. The Visayas will support you, Gilbert. You're gonna be the next president of the Republic of the Philippines. Happy Birthday to the President,” Zubiri said as the crowd cheered.
Zubiri, father of Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, said Teodoro shouldn't pay attention to his dismal ratings in recent opinion surveys because people in the provinces have not heard of such studies.
The crowd then proceeded to dance to the “Limbo Rock” before they formed a conga line that went around the dance hall.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita danced the swing with Mrs. Teodoro.
Other Cabinet Secretaries at the carnival-themed party were Presidential Management Staff Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Trade Secretary Peter Favila.
Military Chief General Victor Ibrado, whose Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class adopted Teodoro as an honorary “mistah” or classmate led the military top brass in greeting their defense secretary.
Also present were Navy Chief Vice Admiral Ferdinand Golez, Army Chief Lieutenant General Delfin Bangit, former military chief Alexander Yano, who was recently confirmed as Ambassador to Brunei, and former Air Force chief Pedrito Cadungog.
Stilt walkers welcomed guests to the Blue Leaf hall on McKinley Hill, which was decorated with brightly-colored ribbons and glittering masks.
A surprise guest, “Erap,” master impersonator Willie Nepomuceno as former president Joseph Estrada, also greeted the celebrant.
After a brief stand-up act, “Erap” raised Teodoro's hand on stage as if they were at a campaign rally.