In one of my one-on-one meetings with Cory Aquino when she was running for Philippine president, she asked me, "What would you do if you were Secretary of Education?"
Without hesitation, I answered, "I would make Filipino the medium of instruction."
She said, shaking her head, "Sobra ka naman" [You're too much).
That did in any possibility of my being named Education Secretary when she won the election against Ferdinand Marcos. Instead, she chose Lourdes Quisumbing, then president of Miriam College (formerly Maryknoll College), a much better choice than me. Quisumbing stayed in the Department of Education the whole time Cory was president, thus becoming the longest-serving Education Secretary in the history of the Philippines. Other Secretaries came and went, often without any impact on the educational system. Quisumbing introduced and advocated Values Education, a newer version of what I had during my elementary school days as "Good Manners and Right Conduct" or "Behavior."
I will always remember that particular conversation with Cory not because I lost my chance at being a member of her cabinet (whew!), but because it showed that she chose her cabinet members not because they were personally known to her, but because of their beliefs or advocacies.
Ironically, when she was President, Cory signed an Executive Order urging all government employees to use Filipino in their official transactions and communications. She was the only president to have done that. Other presidents have been, for political reasons, unwilling to comply with the Philippine Constitution, that mandates that Filipino be indeed the primary medium of official communication and the primary medium of instruction.