I was in Whole Foods, holding a bag of frozen pizza and Harry Potter DVDs while Amy looked at orchids, when I decided to check CNN via WAP on my mobile. Quite a surprise. Reagan dead at 93.
I idolized Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. It was nothing to do with politics, of course; I was a little boy in the Philippines, knowing nothing about Republicans or Soviets or Libyans or Walls or Contras or what a “Gipper” was. No, I was seven years old, and I watched Superman II, and saw that scene in the White House, where the president, that tragic, noble character, kneels before Zod. “Wow, the president knows Superman!” I thought to myself, unable to distinguish E.G. Marshall from Ronald Reagan. Ah, from then on, the title “President of the United States,” carried with it the dreamy flavor of prestige and power and Superman.
You have to understand, of course, that this was the time of the Marcos dictatorship. “Elections” were an unknown thing. I, unaware of such concepts as death or democracy, thought Reagan would last forever, the happy crinkled president of that land across the sea, of freeways and bay bridges and Toys ‘R Us and Saturday morning cartoons. It was only later, in 1986, when the ousted Ferdinand Marcos was spirited away by US helicopters and Cory Aquino took the throne, that I realized a few things: Reagan and Marcos were friends, presidents are not always necessarily the good guys, and presidencies are not forever.
George Bush Sr. ascended the throne in 1988, and it just wasn’t quite the same anymore. I still don’t know anything about politics, but I do know that Reagan, for me, symbolized that happy innocent time of Superman-worshipping childhood, and his death will leave something of a gap in me forever.