Byline: FERDIE J. MAGLALANG
BURLINGAME, California (Via PLDT) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo ended her visit to California and flew direct to Santiago, Chile yesterday to attend the 12th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit.
The President and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo, led the Philippine delegation that left aboard a chartered light plane from San Francisco at 11 p.m. Thursday (3 p.m. Friday in Manila) for the Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Santiago.
The President, who will be staying at the Mariott Hotel in Santiago, will meet with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos Escobar to discuss bilateral relations.
She will host a dinner at the hotel in honor of Peruvian economic development expert Hernando de Soto, one of Mrs. Arroyos foreign economic advisers and consultants.
Her brief working visit in California was highlighted by the conferment on her of a Doctorate in Humane Letters by the Jesuit-run University of San Francisco (USF), visits to the eBay Corp., and meetings with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and her foreign advisers.
The President also took time off to have cocktails with some Filipino-Americans who occupy elective and appointive positions here. The affair was held at the Hyatt Hotel.
Among these Filipino-American officials are State Representative of Washington State Velma Veloria, Milpitas City Mayor Jose S. Esteves, West Sacramento Mayor Christopher Cabaldon, Davis City Mayor Ruth Uy Asmundson, Hercules City Vice Mayor Frank Batara, Union City Councilmen Manny Fernandez and Im Navarro, Hercules City Councilman Ed Balico, Suisun City Councilman Pete Sanchez, San Francisco City College Board Member Rodel Rodis, and Daly City School District Board Member Rachel Puno.
Filipinos holding appointive posts here include Public Utilities Commission Chairman Dennis Normandy, Commission for Migrant Rights Chairman Joaquin Gonzales III, Commission for Juvenile Probation Chairman Jacqueline Lingad Ricci, Commissioner for Veterans Affairs Godofredo Gomez, Commissioner for Aging and Adult Services Rosario Carrio di Ricco, Commissioner for Appeals Board in the City and County of San Francisco Carlos Borromeo, and Commissioner on the Status of Women in San Mateo County Alice Bulos.
Honorary doctorate for GMA
SAN FRANCISCO (Via PLDT) President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was conferred here Thursday afternoon (Friday morning in Manila) an honorary doctorate in humane letters in recognition of her firm resolve to make a more humane and just world.
In a solemn ceremony at the St. Ignatius Church adjacent to the University of San Francisco (USF) campus here, the President received the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, conferred on her by Rev. Stephen A. Privett, S.J., USF president.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyos commitment to public service and to the poor is underpinned by her intellect and education, indefatigable nature, focused leadership, and abiding faith in God, former Ambassador Alfonso T. Yuchengco said, reading a citation.
Yuchengco, a former Philippine ambassador to the United Nations (UN) and to the United States, now sits as a member of the USF board of trustees where he initiated a special academic program, known as the Yuchengco Philippine Studies Program.
He cited Mrs. Arroyos career in public service, notably with her recent election where he laid out her 10-point pro-poor agenda poverty alleviation and good governance which Yunchengco referred to as very Jesuit, very Catholic.
Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the president of the Philippines, represents a lifelong commitment to public service on behalf of her nations people and to a value system at one with the vision, mission, and values statement of USF, Yunchenco added.
Mrs. Arroyo finished her masteral studies in economics at the Ateneo de Manila, also run by the Jesuits in the Philippines, where she also studied before she entered government service as trade undersecretary during the Aquino administration.
Mrs. Arroyos investiture was attended by San Francisco City and County Mayor Gavin Newsom and noted Filipino-Americans who are now holding elective and appointive positions in the state and city governments here.
Newsom, in a symbolic gesture of welcoming Mrs. Arroyo to his city, handed her a key to the City of San Francisco to Mrs. Arroyo, who once was adopted by the city government as an adopted daughter during her first working visit here.
They also recognize the Presidents leadership in advancing world peace, San Francisco Consul General Ma. Rowena Sanchez said in an interview, noting how the Philippine government has participated in many peace-keeping efforts under the United Nations.
She added that the international community has begun to acknowledge the Arroyo administrations firm resolve to advance the peace process with Muslim extremists in Mindanao, particularly with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
Sanchez recalled that Privett first met Mrs. Arroyo when he had celebrated a thanksgiving mass in Malacanang Palace at the height of public clamor for the impeachment of Chief Justice Hilario Davide Jr.
Privett used to visit the Philippines for some educational exchange program with the Ateneo de Manila University, which is also run by Jesuit priests and brothers. Mrs. Arroyo is close to the Jesuits whom she continually sought for guidance. (Ferdie J. Maglalang)
Dollars for RP, please
BURLINGAME (via PLDT) President Arroyo asked Filipinos and Filipino-Americans here Thursday night (Friday morning in Manila) to remit at least $20 each to their relatives in the Philippines every month to help boost the countrys ailing economy.
The President made the pitch during cocktails with the Filipinos and FilipinoAmericans residing and working at the Hyatt Regency Hotel here, notably those who are now holding elective and appointive positions in the US government.
While your continuous remittances indeed serve well to keep our economy afloat, I encourage our overseas Filipinos to make additional efforts to overcome this massive challenge that our country faces today, she said.
Can you just imagine what an additional $20 -a- month remittance can do to further uplift our nation? Let us help each other and go beyond the call of duty. Because in the end, our concerted efforts will benefit an entire race, she added.
Mathematically, Mrs. Arroyo explained that a $20 monthly remittance of every seven million overseas Filipino workers could amount to about $140 million for every month or about $1.68 billion for a year.
This is a big contribution not only to your families, but also for every Filipino, she said, mindful that the overseas Filipino workers have remitted an estimated $8 billion last year, and, thereby, help contribute to the countrys economy.
Government figures showed that of the total remittances of $7.64 billion from Filipinos abroad, over $4.095 billion of which came from Filipinos in the United States, which is enough to help ease the P200-billion budget deficit incurred by the Arroyo administration.
The Chief Executive, however, assured that the Philippines will never find itself in the brink of Argentine-type financial crisis because her administration has drawn up a fiscal reform package that could bail it out from its current fiscal problem.
But I am aware that the Philippines is at a critical juncture, and there is only one path to take if we are to turn the country around: The path of fiscal restraint, the generation of new revenue, and rooting out of corruption in government, she said.
She said her administration will take the race to the finish in putting the countrys economy back in working order by taking tougher decisions, such as improving the tax collection and administration, curbing rampant graft and corruption, among others.
I am optimistic about our country and our people, she said, adding that the Philippines is assuming a new role in the region and the world not only in the field of security, but also in economic performance and improving the standing of living for all Filipinos. (Ferdie J. Maglalang)
eBay Philippine website
SILICON VALLEY, CA (via PLDT) President Arroyo went to San Jose, California Thursday morning (Friday afternoon in Manila) to witness the launching of eBay Philippines (www.ebay.ph), a new localized website designed to allow individuals and small businesses in the country to trade goods and services on line.
The President welcomed the new business venture as a boost to the countrys effort to promote the information technology sector, hoping that eBay Corp will consider the Philippines as the site for its regional operations in Asia.
eBay Philippines will be a boost to the development of exports, entrepreneurship at the grassroots level, and growth of small and medium enterprises. Together with investments in IT infrastructure, these constitute important pillars in the sustainable growth of the Philippine economy, she said.
With the Philippines strength in IT enabled services and its strategic location, we invite eBay to take a close look at the potential of our country, for any future plans in establishing a regional hub of operations in Asia, she added.
eBay Corp. has added up the Philippines among the 20 other countries which it serves for facilitating the buying and selling of items from collectibles like trading cards, antiques, dolls, and housewares to used cars, clothing, books and compact discs, and electronics.
The launch of eBay Philippines brings our successful online marketplace to a growing Internet market in Asia, Bill Cobb, senior vice president of eBay International, said at the launching ceremony that coincided with the Presidents visit here.
Since 1995, eBay has provided local sites in Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the US.
Interestingly, aside from being its userfriendly features, individuals and small businesses can actually list and sell their items up for auction to the highest bidder using the local currency on eBay.ph at no charge. (Ferdie J. Maglalang)…