Wednesday, October 22, 2008


The Carmen Guerrero-Nakpil/Cafe Havana bi-monthly lunch forum I attend is a wonderful mixture of people mostly from the journalism profession, some in the culture and in the arts, business, and still some former senior officials of past and present regimes. Yesterday October 22 was quite a treat for we had no less than Mrs. Imelda Marcos as guest of honor. She was her usual talkative and optimistic self when it came to the potential of our country to be a progressive nation again. And yes, her magnetism was indeed remarkable. Later that afternoon, I sat beside her and Mrs. Chitang Nakpil and listened more from her as she spoke on the Marcos era and the injustice done to them by the very same people who would be doing worse things to our country today. She remembers well how my father set up the Palace-based Evaluation, Research and Analysis (ERA-4) group which helped conceptualize some of her special projects as First Lady and Metro Manila Governor - to name a few, the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Film Center, the Green Revolution, the New Society, the patriotic slogan "Walk Proud, You Are Filipino," and the Metro Manila Commission (now the MMDA). I reminded her of the RP-USSR Friendship Society which my father organized as well. She was its chairperson, and among its members were of course Mrs. Nakpil, Sec. Carmelo Z. Barbero, Rep. Roquito Ablan, Salvador Bigay, Sec. Blas Ople etal. This special cultural bond between the two countries forged good friendship and honor, and most especially recognition by a goliath of a nation to a tiny archipelago. The Philippines was for some time in the minds of the old Kremlin comrades of the former Soviet Union - in a friendly way. And then years after, some sinister cop and party would put our country to shame to the new Russia in an attempt to slip out of Moscow a prohibited amount of cash which to this day, none of the officers including the equally-sinister DILG Secretary Ronaldo Puno could explain to the public in a convincing manner. Mrs. Marcos spoke of the Philippine economy then as compared to now and how the Filipino had a sense of pride everywhere he went, whether here and especially in a far away place overseas. Today, our OFWs are favorite victims of cruelty from their foreign masters, and still victimized some more by our very own government-labor embassy officials, not to mention the inutile Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). She spoke further on her current dream and project to eradicate poverty in our country which she aptly calls her 'No Filipino Poor' project. Its ingredients are filled with positive steps towards the betterment of the Filipino life, with his now tarnished image brought about by poor governance by a rotten regime. Now, before you start labeling me as a Marcos Loyalist, just make a comparison of life then and now. If you still think our life is better off today under this kakistocratic government, then let me be the one to tag you as a 'Gloria Fanatic.' But over and above all that, it was really good seeing again old (not literally) family friends Miss International Gemma Cruz-Araneta and her mother Chitang Nakpil. They surely top my list as the classiest ladies of our society together with who else, but the incomparable Mrs. Marcos. Others in attendance were former UAE Ambassador Roy Seneres, Philippine Star columnist Jarius Bondoc, Malaya columnist Dahli Aspillera, Commodore Rex Robles, General Sonny Yan, General Jimmy delos Santos, Vic Macalincag, Consul Lynn Gavino, former National Historical Institute (NHI) chief Dr. Serafin Quiason, spy-master and JCI senator Erick San Juan, UP Prof. Rene Azurin, Jose 'Pepe' Rodriguez of Instituto Cervantes, Ateneo Prof. Alan Paguia, Rep. Roilo Golez etal. We definitely missed Larry Cruz of the LJC Group, operators of Cafe Havana. Larry has left this world much too early, and his restaurant isn't quite the same without him there with us. Anyways, yesterday was indeed a pleasant afternoon. After we had all stood up to adjourn the lunch meeting, it was already past three and we escorted Mrs. Marcos to her waiting black Chrysler 300 limousine, and after a few hugs and 'besos,' off she and her security entourage went to an undisclosed destination.
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