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Meeting PGMA

(Picture Courtesy of Archie G. Rotap)

Wow! What an exciting opportunity to be able to write a blog for Philippine Generations!

I have been a member of PG for a year or so and although I am not filipino myself I love all things Pinoy. My wife is from Pangasinan, we have 2 teenage children and I have always loved the Philippines, so I have been there many times. We have TFC at home so I always like to keep up to date with the Balita from back home.I have to say that I believe President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has always been a strong leader.

Of course her leadership is a difficult one. You could compare her staying power to our former prime minister Tony Blair! There have been protests and scandals. Some people love her and are keen supporters and some people hate her! I had an amazing opportunity to meet with her on Saturday 19th September at a brunch organised by the Philippine Embassy in her honour.

As I said I love the Philippines and so am very keen with any chance to attend any event related in any way to back home! I was very kindly afforded the opportunity to attend this event thanks to PG. They had been offered 5 invitations and they opened this out to members. An email was sent out that said the first 4 to reply would be invited along as guests of PG Director Mae Williams. I was the first to reply!!! I would like to say that it is lovely and refreshing to see that I and fellow active PG member, volunteer and PG admin, Janette Robertson, were able to be included in this invitation to speak about and share the good news about PG to others at the event through networking.

I needed to wake up very early on Saturday morning to get ready. We all had to dress very smartly and I looked forward to the chance to wear a suit! When I arrived I was really taken care of and looked after, we were greeted by her entourage and needed to register. Thankfully my name was on a list and I was given a badge which I have kept as a souvineer!

We entered the ballroom where we were able to hear some brilliant entertainment there was a 16 year old girl with a lovely powerful voice. I have always loved the fact there is so much talent from back home! The impression I got was that the Embassy and indeed the Philippine Goverment wanted to showcase all the achievements of the Philippines in South East Asia. The various speakers from departments in the Governement wanted to share all the good things that had been achieved during the Presidency of PGMA. From roads to communication Hubs at Subic bay to plans for 7 new airports and many new jobs. When Subic Bay was still in use as an American base there were apparently sound 24,000 employees there are now over 55,000! The President was able to tell us about her plans for investment and call centres and the big increase in this area. The impression I was given by the speakers was that there are new job opportunities and growth through the time of PGMA. Of course there may be some people who may be skeptical and not believe all the facts. I did however and was impressed.

We all had to stand for the Philippine National Anthem which I love and respect very much and then the President arrived. It was such an amazing feeling to be in the same room with such a powerful women after only watching her on TFC. When she arrived in the room everyone stood up and clapped loudly. You could see all those present from business people, those in caring and nursing, students, and various workers representing the community were excited to see the President and hear her speak. She is such a powerful and dynamic speaker as well! She really knows how to captivate those present.
She had good news to tell us about her Presidential term. One of the highlights for me was when she seemed proud to share with us all about the skills and talents of Filipinos working abroad. Her Excellency then commendably said that she would like to see a day when working abroad would be a choice and not a need. She also spoke about the lowering of the costs of medicines through the new low cost medicine regulations. Whilst we had a lovely brunch and were all looked after very well, I would say to those who may ask why she needs to make these trips abroad and spend money on entertaining others is that she seems to have genuine love of the Philippines and would like to tell us all the good news of her achievements for the country.
She also wanted to reward and thank those in the community who work so hard, we were able to witness the carer of the year from the Philippines being thanked and presented to us.

The biggest moment for PG was when she spoke of the fact that some members of the second and third generation of Filipinos here in the UK, have come together and started a group named…Philippine Generations! It is included in her speech on Youtube and on her personal page on the Philippine Government website. please take a look at the links below:
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmzGGliVMzY&feature=channel_page

Personally to be able to speak to her and even say Maraming Salamat Madame President and shake her hand was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life and was truly an honour.
This was a moment I will never forget and am indebted to both the Philippine Embassy especially his excellency Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo, Deputy Chief of Mission Reynaldo Catapang, Consul General Tess De Vega, Cultural Attache Cecile Santos and Philippine Generations for this.

Maraming, Maraming Salamat Po at Mabuhay!!

By Malcolm Conlan

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