Happy birthday Butch!

Happy birthday Butch!

- in Opinion, Philippines, Sports

One man whose contributions to the Duterte presidential campaign is oftentimes overlooked is William Ramirez.

A teacher, sportsman and leader, Ramirez evaded the limelight but went beyond the call of duty as head of the Duterte Campaign Advance Party.

That is no small responsibility. Not in perhaps the most unconventional campaign in recent memory if not in the history of Philippine presidential elections.

As the man on the scene, Butch had to deal with the different – many times conflicting – volunteers in the different places identified for the Duterte sorties.

Most of the time, Butch merely followed instructions from above so he had little discretion in choosing whom to deal with in the local level.

It is one thing to deal with a group that understood the importance of team work and the sacrifices it entails. It’s a different thing when one faction is committed to the elimination of the others to claim all the credit and – as events would unravel – the glory.

On many occasions, Butch was a fireman, putting out fires lit unwittingly, or perhaps wittingly, from within the campaign structure.

Perhaps the seemingly endless intramurals was one factor why many incumbent administration officials did not lift a finger to stop or at least hinder the Duterte campaign in their fiefdoms.

A History major, Butch knew human nature at its worst so he cleverly sued for time – until the sortie is over. The Duterte visit, oftentimes, did not resolve the infighting but at least the temporary truce allowed the future President to maximize the visit and heighten the momentum that would culminate with the runaway victory.

At the same time, Butch also had to shepherd a rag-tag band of volunteers willing to sacrifice their time, energy, resources and – on some occasions – life and limb just to ensure the future President a safe landing in all the campaign sorties.

When you put people together, many of them meeting only for the first time, with diverse orientations, temperaments and motives, expect fireworks anytime.

Like the father figure that he has become, Butch initiated dialogues if it was still possible but on extreme occasions, stamped his foot down. It must have pained him to disappoint people he knew offered sacrifices for the cause, but he was decisive even if it meant displeasing those close to him.

Butch even went beyond the intricacies of the campaign and was always concerned and available to help out his men in his personal capacity when they needed help.

Now back at the helm of the Philippine Sports Commission, Butch finds his hands full trying to shape up a sector torn by clashing personal, political and business interest to where it belongs – at the top.

The last time (was it the only time?) a Philippine delegation emerged over-all champion in the Southeast Asian Games was in 2005 when Butch first chaired the PSC.

The Philippines’ best chance will be in 2019 when it hosts the games. It won’t be easy but if there is one man who can do it, it is the man who has done it: Butch Ramirez.

A simple man whose devotion to his wife Mercy, his children and great grandchildren is a joy to watch, Butch does not mind that he remains underrated – at least as far as credit in the Duterte campaign is concerned.

For one whose only motive was to make Duterte win, this is no surprise.

Today, most of the men who toiled under him will gather together to greet a man who has touched their lives forever and join all those who greet Butch a happy birthday.

I will be there.

Happy birthday Butch!

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