Sunday, June 1, 2003

A few major significant events took place just last week. Well, that's how I perceived them. Monday - I got stranded in the heavy downpour caused by blasted Chedeng, internationally named Linfa or Limfa and a monstrous traffic in Edsa. Goodness! It was so unbelievable?!

I left the office earlier than usual because it was raining and I was thinking of the access roads that will render unaccessible in a few hours. I took the MRT hurriedly and by 815 in the evening, I found myself among a throng of people boarding off the last station of MRT North Avenue. I was too glad then because in 30 minutes, I'll be home. Lo and behold! That dire 30 minutes became 4 hours.

I catched a bus fully loaded of standing people. I decided to ride knowing I really had no choice at all. After a few minutes, a man got off so I was able to sit. Lucky me! =) The trip home was so boring that I almost fell into a nap. I remembered waking and being in a slumber again for 3 times. We were not moving that much so I thought I was just sleeping for a mere 2 minutes at the most. But I was so shocked to hear when a guy behind me complained that it was almost 12 midnite and we were still in Balintawak. BALINTAWAK?! What?! 12 midnite at Balintawak?!

That was the time I really checked my mobile phone for the right time and I blinked and winked my eyes to really see if I am seeing the real thing. 5 minutes after 12. The man was right all along!

By 1 in the morning, we finally got off the bus and unfortunately, it was raining hard. I had my umbrella [I normally do not bring umbrella but hard times asked for it] but even this sturdy piece cannot hold the strength of the rain and wind. I decided to call my mom since she might be worried. I told her that I cannot still go home because there were no trikes around to bring me home. There was even no line and I know the sharks of those blasted drivers will be swimming amongst us passengers. For a mere 5 pesos for a fare, they will charge you 20-30 bucks! I tried to hail any trikes but to no avail. To make the story short, I was able to go home at 2 in the morning, dripping wet for I decided not to use the umbrella anymore.

Tuesday - I was absent because I was stranded. I was already at the fx station where a 45-minutes ride will bring me to Makati. I waited too long and it was raining hard. At 12 noon, I decided to go home but once again, I was stranded,. I got home at 4 in the afternoon.

Wednesday - Despite the heavy rains, I managed to reach the office. I cannot afford not to be absent for I have so many daunting tasks ahead. Hehehe! They were all surprised to see me. Anyway, it was my birthday, too. I won't elaborate much about it but I wanna thank those who greeted me on this say and the day before yesterday. They thought the other day was my bithday. Thank you also to my colleagues for the greetings and the cake; for the nice card from my superiors [I appreciate the nice and encouraging words you guys have written there]; for Dusit Hotel for the other cake; to BWI people especially to Sir Louie and Kuya Ian; to my high school bud Aya for the call and to Haze; to Pex peeps Jawee, LA, Jon, Jovee, Paul.

I said I won't elaborate but let me thank Kuya Rage too for the surprise call. I really did not expect him to call that time and I was too surprised to know he is in the country already. Ei, I hope to see you soon. =) To my Tita Myrna, too who is in the States, thanks a lot.
To those who emailed, I really do appreciate it.

But one thing I will tell you all, I am not so enthusiastic in turning -- [secret!]. Here is an explanation for that. I maybe 25 now but I can still relate to this. I came across this through email...

When you’re 24 (and Single)

When you’re 24, you start to accept that you are through with the teeny bopper stage. You transfer the boxes or chocolate cans filled with letters from your bedside to the storeroom of
your house and replaced them with books about successful living.

When you’re 24, you weigh decisions as to when to get along with friends. Unaware, you classify them and hang with them according to the mood or struggle that you deal with. You view the youngsters’ giggles on their crushes as non-sensical, their laughter and uncontrollable noise irritable, and their passion to be the best dresser so vain. You forgot that you had been there, having that same craving for friends, crushes and love, always wearing your best clothes at the time when you only care about is to belong.

When you’re 24, you become realistic. The ideal man you dreamed of suddenly evolves with no face as you learn the virtue of patience. You’re now more careful in choosing a partner because the possibility of getting married just hangs around the corner. By this age, you re-define the
essence of relationship.

Your mind is more focused on your career. You don’t want to fail, get lost and end up being a mediocre. So, you keep your toes going; your mind - bursting with ideas; your heart burning with the passion to fulfill its goal: to be on top of your chosen field. To become an expert.

Slowly, it becomes easy for you to cancel a gimmick because you prefer to counsel a friend in need, who’s not necessarily a part of your circle. You learn to welcome strangers to your life.

Sometimes, you over-react in protecting the young members of your family. You observe the length of time they spend outside your home. You’re more eager to see them earn good grades, and sometimes you preach as if you’re the patriarch of the household! And, when you already feel that you’re over-reacting, you would sit at the backyard, or in the lawn, to breathe some fresh air. There, you would ponder on your purpose in life. Within your heart, you would search the purpose you want to serve in your family, friends, and lastly, to yourself.

You would admit that being single is quite lonely, but again, a part of you would always be ready to reason that your decision to be single for the moment is worthwhile. You’re loved by your family and respected by your younger siblings and cousins.

And, of course, you would renew your commitment to yourself that you will be doing daily exercise to burn some calories! (because you know that you miss doing it most of the time). Equipped with prayers and positive thinking, you would jog your worries away, and start each day with a hopeful and thankful spirit to the One who’s watching over you.

Thursday - I was early for work. At 630 am, I was already in Makati. I will be attending then a press conference at NSCB for the First Quarter 2003 RP National Accounts. It went well and I hope the figures for the economy will sustain its lead. I just hope so.

Supposedly, I was to attend a lecture at Asian Institute for Management @ 6 in the evening but I forego the sched since the weather was not cooperative.

Friday - the most incredible and shocking of all! A joint meeting with business organizations @ the Dusit Hotel which was organized by the Makati Business Club with none other than Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the helm, as guest of honor and speaker!

My superior was supposed to attend that event but with no claim or advise the day before that, he requested me to attend and listen what GMA has to say with regards to her US State Visit. I was panicking because (1) only for members [though I represent the company which is fine with me], (2) CEO s and chief expats are the one present in the meeting [I can still manage being with them though how unusual I may seem to them], (3) this is entirely my dilemma: I was wearing a black Lee bootleg type jeans and a 3/4 while blouse. I wasn't so formal. Good thing I had my black blazer with me. Somehow, it diverted men's eyes from me but looking so small and young amongst them did not make any difference at all.

But everything was ok. I was able to get the information I need and I really had a good impression of that report. I only hope that those financial promises be translated to concrete reality so people will believe.

Below is the speech she delivered to the business organizations who attended the event.

A Report to the Business Community on the U.S. State Visit

Her Excellency Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
President, Republic of the Philippines
30 May 2003

As Secretary Roxas and the other speakers intimated, the Philippines today is emerging from the stagnation, cynicism, cronyism, and disengagement from the world that characterized the end of the last century. And in line with this, a new modern alliance between the Philippines and the United States is essential for the well-being of our nation on a range of issues: security, regional stability, trade and investment, economic reform, and good governance measures, to name a few.

That’s why I went into that important meeting with President Bush at the White House last week. That meeting underscores the strengths of the relationship between the Philippines and the United States. As you know, I was the first Asian head of state to be given a state visit in the Bush presidency. And President Bush and I, in accordance with what I think we need as a country for the 21st century, developed a modern framework to guide our relations. Relations that had drifted are now back on track and stronger and more mature than ever.

I followed with great interest the published commentary on the implications of the outcomes from my recently concluded state visit. I join many of our people in noting with pleasure that most commentators welcomed the generosity and kindness of America in that visit. There seemed to be an overwhelming acceptance that what happened during my state visit constituted genuine good news for our country in an otherwise dismal season in the global scene marked by war, disease outbreak, economic slowdown in the world.

Three threads of contrary opinion were, however, articulated by respected voices. These dissenting voices say: 1) that my state visit marked a return to a patron-client relationship between the U.S. and the Philippines – one that is marked once more by mendicancy and dependence – after this was ended by the 1991 closure of U.S. bases in our country 2) that the announced gains from the visit are mere propaganda, not reality 3) that the gains from the visit mainly serve my personal political purposes for the 2004 elections.

I thought that our people would benefit from my addressing these opinions. It’s important that our country understand better the intended meanings and underlying purposes of key changes in our current relationship with America, not just for the benefit of my administration but for the guidance even of future generations of this century.

I will now offer an extended enumeration of the various gains from the visit. Those of you who came here expecting a laundry list, I’m sorry to disappoint you. After all, published reports have already provided much of this information. And if you are really interested, go through all of them and do your clippings and do your own additions. These published reports have already reported on different forthcoming investments and job contracts, but if you put them together, they are worth over a billion dollars. They’ve already reported on various World Bank and IFC programs and projects announced during my trip, but if you add them all up again, they amount to more than a billion dollars, too. They’ve already reported on credit lines from OPIC and Eximbank worth US$500 million. They have already reported on defense and security assistance exceeding US$350 million. They’ve already reported on expected OFW remittance savings of US$300 million once we fix the system of remittance. They’ve already reported on various bilateral poverty alleviation programs, which again if you put them together will amount to over US$200 million.

In any case, I 'm confident that the people from the sectors, institutions, and regions that will directly benefit from agreements made during the visit will be the best spokespersons about the reality of these gains. For instance, looking at the reports that other visit also to the U.S. made by their own people -- so that I could make my report consistent with their format -- I saw that what they get in GSP is part of what they consider as gains in the visit. On that score, I am confident that the seaweed farmers will be the best spokesmen for the GSP benefits when carageenan begins to enter the U.S. tariff-free. On the part of OPIC, I 'm confident that people like Loida Nicholas-Lewis, a Fil-American, will be a good spokesperson about the credit line because she is one of the U.S. investors who will avail of it -- in her case to put up a meat processing plant in Cagayan de Oro. I 'm confident that the children who will benefit from the health and nutrition services of the US$96-million development assistance and child survival project will be the best spokesmen for that project. That the children who will be fed with milk as part of the US$42-million Food for Peace program will be the best spokesmen for that program. I 'm confident that the ex-MNLF who will continue to benefit from the US$33-million renewal of their reintegration assistance will be the best spokesmen for that support of the U.S. to the continuing peace process. And I am confident that the electric cooperatives who will receive long-term debt funding will be the best spokesmen also, all of them together for the bilateral poverty alleviation program.

On the part of commercial and corporate transactions, I 'm confident that the governor of Batangas will be the best spokesman for the projected US$500-million CALABARZON joint use airport and mixed-use township development. I am confident that the prominent citizens of Cavite led by former Prime Minister Virata will be the best spokesmen for the US$117-million geothermal plant at Bacon-Manito and the Visayan power transmission lines. But I feel confident that the consumers themselves will be the best spokesmen for the US$50-million Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion Plant of Sun Solar Power and that the people of Cagayan will be the best spokesmen of the US$5 million-dollar IFC grant for the Cagayan Solar Power Plant. As I am sure that Planters Bank will be the best spokesman for IFC 's US$25-million investment in our small and medium enterprise financing facilities.

I also look forward to the day when the aircraft mechanics will be the spokesmen for a US$300-million investment of Dyncorp in a regional aviation repair and maintenance center and an aviation technical training center. And when additional automotive workers will be the spokesmen for the next US$150-million investment of Ford Motor Corporation.

I 'm confident that the nurses will be the best spokespersons for the US$26-million in U.S. healthcare job commitments. And I 'm confident that starting June, 8,000 young people will begin to become the best spokesmen for the first US$10-million call center of Convergys. And that in September, 300 young people will be the best spokesmen for the Western Wats Call Center.

I feel confident that the workers and professionals who will work in Iraq will be the best spokesmen for the first US$100-million worth of jobs being discussed. And I 'm confident that the farmers will be the best spokesmen for the US$50-million World Bank Agrarian Reform Community Development Project whose signing was announced during my state visit. And so with the various beneficiaries of the other World Bank projects already being programmed all the way up to 2005.

Suffice it to say here that the magnitude, range, and structure of the benefits obtained merited our country 's appreciation. We obtained quantitatively more valuable benefits across a wider range of concerns at a more accelerated schedule and with better-targeted purposes than we had thought attainable at these times.

Nonetheless, I did not go to America with a begging bowl. I did not place our sovereignty on the negotiating table. I never intended to be America 's Girl Scout in our region. America is not in search of dependents, puppets, or errand girls. It is in need of authentic allies whose own security interests coincide with their global war against terrorism. The Philippines is one such ally. I believe that the world was indeed fundamentally altered by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. While fighting terrorism cannot be the end-all and be-all of all human endeavor, I believe that it has become a transcendental issue that colors our other concerns, whether we like it or not. Terrorists and those who fight them will make sure that it does color our world, even if we would have it preferred otherwise.

I went to America in behalf of a country whose citizens and economy have suffered and a country which is under continuing threat from terrorism. I had dinner at the White House that is now the vigorous fighting heart of all peoples under threat of terrorist attacks. America was generous with its support for our own struggle against terrorism. Yet the Philippines was entirely worthy of such support as Filipino blood and fortunes have been invested in prosecuting our own fight against those who inflict violence in behalf of political or allegedly religious goals. America 's support for Philippine efforts is not payback for compliance, rather it is an act of solidarity of two sovereign countries engaged in common struggle where both are at risk. While the outward appearances of my state visit to the U.S.A. may look similar to those of other state visits – including that of my father, and I accompanied him on that state visit, too, so I have a chance to compare – I believe that the underlying reality that our relationship with America has changed significantly towards greater mutuality, equality, and maturity. That is completely new. Our official friendship with America is not new, but the mutuality of national interests that underlie such relationship is a new and more powerful motivation for an old friendship.

I wish to appeal to those who would seek to misappropriate the gains of my state visit in favor of whatever they may imagine to be my political plans in 2004. This includes not only my detractors but also my well-meaning supporters. Please refrain from tainting this national enterprise with political colors.

The whole country, the entire Filipino people, and most of all the people from Mindanao, are the main intended and eventual beneficiaries of whatever was accomplished during my state visit. Everyone else, including myself or members of my cabinet and other leaders who participated, were merely instruments in the service of the national interest. America’s generosity was extended primarily to 80 million Filipinos who, after all, are the citizens who bear the burden of securing the peace and advancing the economy.

I shall not diminish the nobility and honor associated with the two nations of the Philippines and America affirming their deep and abiding friendship with each other through my state visit. I have no wish to exact from the gains of the Filipino people any reflected glory for my supposed political plans. Our people expect their President to be a much greater leader than that, and I have a much greater respect for our people to be any less.

The financial support provided by the United States is welcome, but not central to our long-term relationship. The purpose of my trip was not about aid, though it came, but about a new and broadened relationship that takes in every facet of life and commerce between the two nations. Commerce, that’s why I ask you businessmen to be here. My state visit was to forge a new, modern framework to guide our two nations a relationship built on mutual respect and shared values. I was honored by the State Visit. And as mentioned by our speaker earlier, I thank you, my fellow citizens, because you said, you are proud, too.

We have laid a strategic basis for Philippine-U.S. relations based on more trade, not aid reciprocity, not mendicancy mutuality, not exclusivity. Through this bolstered alliance, we have gained solid momentum for a more decisive engagement with the world. But that engagement is not only for us and the government to do, it is in the business sector to do even more.

We in government take care of the diplomacy and sometimes the initial contacts, but I expect you to follow through with characteristic zeal and ability. We must get on early and make a go for it. We’re already three years into this new century. Let’s bring in investments and step up higher into the world stage. Let’s give jobs to our people. Let’s fight poverty. Let’s build a strong republic for the 21st century.

Thank you.

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It is always refreshing to know what is in your mind. Thanks!