Cesar Flores was in a light mood. His face luminous and handsome as he was being grilled by Mr. Boy Abunda in the latter's talk show, The Bottom Line, late Sunday night.
Flores heads Smartmatic Asia Pacific, the company that's overseeing full automation of the country's elections touted to be the world's biggest automation undertaking. This cost the country a hefty PhP7.2 billion, probably a paltry amount in relation to the size of its voting population and the difficult logistics of fielding manpower and machines across the archipelago. We are, after all, a nation of 7,100 islands - and crossing land masses and seas has to cost more than just that.
When asked why we should trust the PCOS machines, he calmly replied, "PCOS is more accurate than the human eye." He also tweeted that "Manual counting is prone to honest or intentional mistakes." Is the system prone to manipulations? Can it be cheated? Like any computer system, it is! "But the system is built in a way that it can be audited. It can be cheated, but not without leaving a trail," he added.
What was their biggest mistake? "We weren't hard on implementing the testing procedures (we wanted) which is, testing and shading real ballots?" This was because they weren't allowed by the Comelec to print extra ballots as the country has a paranoia regarding these extra ballots! He shrugged and said, "This is part of the learning curve."
I was curiously caught with the way he replied to all these questions. He was emphatic, but polite; self-assured without being cocky, and we somehow felt we could trust him. In fact, we don't just trust him, we like him - a lot! We are not alone in this matter. Flores' 2 month old twitter account has a steadily growing following of 1,600! Actor Chris Evans ("Cellular", The Human Torch in "Fantastic Four" series) has less (688) and Ryan Reynolds ("The Proposal") has 8,400. Flores is fast becoming a well loved celebrity!
Is it true that he has a girlfriend in each country (he worked in)? The handsome Venezuelan didn't deny it, and said "I've had my fun." But he is the marrying kind. In 2007, he was about to get married to a Venezuelan girl. He offered, "She was lovely, and I cared about her, but our personalities wouldn't work." In fact, he even took her to El Nido (his favorite local holiday destination), but as fate would have it, "We broke up after that!"
How important is a woman in your life? "Very important. She is someone you share your goals with, your happiness and frustrations." He isn't dating, at the moment. In fact, he denies having a girlfriend right now mainly because he doesn't have the time to spare, what with the ongoing canvassing at the Congress. He seems to like the Filipinos as they make him "feel comfortable" but complained in jest that "politicians are a different breed."
When he wants to unwind, he visits Videoke bars and sings Frank Sinatra tunes (probably the cutest videoke singer this side of the universe - and I thought only lolos sing Sinatra these days), then gamely sang a line. When asked of a favorite country, he replied, "Germany. I lived there for 6 years." Thank Heavens, he didn't kiss ass and say the Philippines.
For someone who is constantly grilled by politicians, Flores' feathers isn't ruffled, in fact he gamely tweeted a few days ago, "I miss the Congress. I need the adrenaline rush!" And for someone who was on the unenviable hot seat, Flores has his cup of confidence spilling over. He explained, "We've had 4 years of preparation. We have the truth on our side, and we know we did a good job."
Why did Smartmatic get the job? He smiled, "We had a bid 30% below the budget."
He seems to genuinely like the Filipinos, but he underlined our gullibility to chismis (rumor-mongering). He added that, "Venezuelans love to gossip too, but here (in the Philippines), people believe in them." In my opinion, that can't be such a bad thing, I reckon, because it allows us to be vigilant. With all the midnight deals floating around, we need to sharpen our antenna and tune in our radars.
Would he do it (facilitate the Philippines' automation program in the next election) again? "In a heartbeat," he smiled. Now that is a man I CAN TRUST with my vote!
Who is a beautiful woman to you? "Julianne Moore!" (Mr. Flores, I kinda look like Ms. Moore! LOL)
What is a beautiful girl's name? "Sofia" (I'm having re-baptized next week! I'm getting bored with Catherine anyway.)
What are your thoughts about gays? "I am a liberalitarian. I believe in personal freedoms. I respect everybody's choice, as long as it contributes to the common good; as long as it has something to do with helping people."
Then Mr. Abunda waxes naughty and mines the gay man in him. What is the hardest part of your body? "My knee."
What is the longest part of your body? "My middle finger!" Then he corrected himself, lifted his leg and flexed his left foot to check it out, "Now that i think about it, it's my foot! It's a size 12!" Then Mr. Abunda added, "Big feet, big heart! That's what they say." Huh? Never heard that before.
We are all turning over a new leaf. Thus Noynoy Aquino's (a Presidentiable I didn't vote but will respect as my new President) installation as the Philippines' next President has to have ample credibility so that people can actually move on, and undo all the rust that GMA lovingly showered to the struggling Filipinos. Otherwise, we would, once again, be locked in constant debates and politicizing; something that our nation can't further stand.
It is with great honor that we have been served by a gentleman in Cesar Flores, someone whose respectability, trust-worthiness and competence is beyond question. It's such a bonus that he is such an eye candy too. He makes me wanna watch the nightly news more often!
Is he aware that he is good looking? "I was told that I am."
Hmmm. An honest man can be so sexy. You can hit me up when you feel lonely, Mr. Flores!. We can sing "My Way" together - all night! (Me fluttering my lashes) ;-> OMG!
Congratulations to The Bottom Line for a very entertaining show. Pertinent topical shows are more often boring. I had fun! Public Affairs Programs tend to forget that they do have to up the entertainment quotient as late night habits are prone to make people fall asleep! This was otherwise brainy, entertaining, no-holds-barred, although I'd have dealt more into Mr. Flores' past (He studied Economics and Sociology, but somehow got waylaid into the I.T. industry.) Can you please invite him over for a 2nd part?Pweety pwees!