“Si Madeleine,” the squat sweaty seaman said through pursed lips, “she made a career from Ricky’s halo after he died. She’s like a saint to plenty people and that’s why her own shit don’t stick to her. The People loved Ricky. She’s no Ricky though,” Capt. Willy huffed with a smirk.
Only a few months after her late husband and popular former governor Ricardo Bordallo blew his brains out in a dramatic, over-the-top dispatch during rush hour traffic, widow Madeleine announced her failed plan to run for governor. Many old-timers point to this as the beginning of a mercenary career that thrived on fostering the factionalism within the Democratic Party of Guam.
The old southern peskadot continued to speak in awe of the late former governor Ricky Bordallo for what seemed to be forever. He wove a tale ripe with intrigue, scandal and passion, with the movement of generations - and power.
He wound a tight tale of the rise of politics on Guam to the level of a mixed martial art. But it was all sounding hauntingly familiar. It sounded like he was recounting today’s headlines and the madness that is Guam politics today. Maybe it’s just what I get for hanging out with old fishermen who’s favorite sport is politics.
“This time she got a problem, nai,” he continued without a break, “she got to watch her back for Frank and she can not handle both him and Carl in a race. Not now. Not anymore, nai. You see that halo is fading. She’s fading,” the senior seaman said, smoothing his scraggly goatee.
“People don’t remember how it was. The old gal just don’t fish and it’s just like when all those Vietnamese were going to come here. Ricky told the feds what our infrastructure needed and he’s the one that built the hospital and helped make Tumon so popular for tourism. We need somebody who can do that again.”
The late former governor of Guam Ricardo Bordallo is greeted by an adoring throng of man’amko, residents of Bordallo’s first major project as governor: Guma Trankilidad senior resort housing in Tumon.
The sea dog hoisted a large beat up cooler from the back of his nearby boonie truck. We carried it over to a small table Capt. Willie had set up beneath a ratty old canopy since the dawn of this particular day.
“Madeleine’s been there 10 years and that’s enough for her. It’s time,” he laughed to himself and repeated, “It’s time!” a few more times to his obvious delight. Private joke, I supposed and watch him pull a sharp knife from thin air.
As he spoke, a vermillion sunset flared it’s last and and in an instant, the guts of a large parrotfish pulled still writhing from a large white cooler splashed onto the ground at our feet.
“Ricky was big. When he walked into a room, you knew it, nai. Everybody knew it,” the captain says waving his knife in the air in front of him without looking up from his task with the fish. “He stood up for himself. For Guam. Carl’s like that,” referring to former governor Carl T. C. Gutierrez.
“Always has been. That’s why Madeleine always had to work this divide,” Capt. Willie emphasizes his meaning with one long, slow but precise slice of the parrotfish into two large filets.
The old southern resident, like countless others on Guam, is an armchair political pundit and historian; and a devoted Democrat though he admits to voting for Felix Camacho/Mike Cruz and sitting the last election out.
“She got to learn the game from the best. But when Ricky took that crazy exit, the one to inherit that magic that he had, was nobody but Carl. He’s not a tenth of what Ricky was, but maybe that’s a good thing, nai? Nobody has that connection to the grassroots, the people like Carl right now. And he is the last of his kind.”
I heard about Ricky’s charisma and the magic that filled a room or a canopy when Ricky came in and people would start to talk about how he had made a difference in their lives. It reminded me of how people spoke of Gutierrez at pocket meetings and on the campaign trail back in 2010. Capt. Willie explained why to me.
He continued, “Now, she got big trouble now. Yes indeed. Because not only do we want somebody who is tough, but we NEED somebody that is strong who will stand up fight for his own self and for the people.” The captain pauses to consider the splayed carcass, lost in a thought. “Nobody fights for us no more,” he said with a final stab at the fishy remains.
“It’s like they said at the meeting, nai…’she on the fringe.’ It’s no big secret how she worked against Democrat unity since a long time already because she needed to build her own base in the party. Even if it meant Republicans would win in the legislature and governor’s office she really don’t care so long as she can keep getting hers. It’s time for ours now!” the old man demanded.
It’s a charge that more than a few guamblog readers continue to make, as well.
“So, what do you make about the fact that the Congresswoman and governor have struck a bargain, and Carl won’t run for congress?” I asked.
Capt. Willie guffaws and kicks over the large white cooler spilling the water inside and reaches into a smaller blue one to retrieve the last beer. It was time to go home.
“That’s bullshit!” Willie shrieked after drawing deep from his frothy beer. “She’s not going to help Gutierrez for nothing! So what? She asked Alicia Limtiaco took look into ‘the matter,?’ For what?! She sure is pretty but Alicia won’t do nothing; she never did. And when it’s too late for Carl to run for congress, then what?” the feisty old coot queried rhetorically.
“Madeleine always resented Carl because he was the One. Not her. She had no choice except quietly to keep the division in the Party going so she can keep her job and all that benefits that go with it. She been doing it too long now to stop. United she loses. That’s why.”
He shrugged his shoulders and nodded toward his beat up old truck with no tailgate and 3 spare tires (you know, those skinny little weird tires), less windows in the doors.
“Na-a-a-h,” I said. “I drove. Thanks anyway.”