Friday, December 10, 2010
I Met Noynoy. Finally.
It was my third time in Malacanang last Friday.
The invitation was faxed last Wednesday which I read a day later. Of course, I would go. It didn't matter that the invitation came barely two days before the event. It was an occasion to celebrate the International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2010 at the Heroes Hall of Malacanang, 10 AM.
I was a witness to several things that day:
1) The signing of the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-Torture Law;
2) Etta Rosales acting like a school principal reprimanding the President to listen. As an introduction, Etta said Noynoy had asked her to keep her speech short and sweet. And she go, "Well, Mr. President, you're my captive audience now. You have no choice but to listen." And indeed, we were all held captive to a looooonngggg narration of her first 100 Days as Commission on Human Rights Chair. To be fair to Noynoy, he was not the only one who stopped paying attention to Etta. Leila De Lima was in lala land. The diplomats were exchanging news and gossips with their seat-mates. I was figuring out how to zoom the Blackberry built-in camera. Etta Rosales was enjoying the floor too much, she didn't care if she was already committing genocide. That is if boring, disengaging speeches could kill.
(CHR Chair Etta Rosales after the long and winding speech)
(Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima)
3) Noynoy asking the government to withdraw the case filed against the members of Morong 43. It wasn't a big surprise. I remember just giving him the double-take when he said it.
4) The ineptitude of the Palace staff in handling the event. If Noynoy's government has really been cutting corners to cut costs, I must say they're cutting more flesh than fat. The staff assisting the diplomats were shabbily dressed. I had been to an Erap function and a Gloria event in Malacanang and the staff then looked and moved world-class. Back to Noynoy. There must have been close to a hundred diplomat-guests whose names they cut-out from a bond paper and assigned to a chair. They must have re-arranged the names on the chairs a dozen times before the diplomats arrived. When the diplomats did arrive, they were still arranging the names. They escorted the diplomats to a chair this way and that, moved them a seat or two, a row or two twice at least. Some got exasperated they took the vacant seats next to us. I shook my head and was close to asking my assistant to help these hapless Malacanang staff!
After the event, we were treated to empanada, brownies, sandwiches, orange and four-seasons juices on trays carried by Palace waiters. I took one empanada and a glass of four-seasons. It was past 12 noon. No, I am not going to do a Mai Mislang.
Speaking of Mai Mislang. Her boss, Ricky Carandang, was at the gathering. I saw him during Leila De Lima's press briefing after the event. Mr. Carandang was trying real hard to be inconspicuous. Being one of the Communication Group's heads, he looked out-of-place being outside where the action was. He was alone under the shadows of the darkened passage to the hall. He looked self-conscious standing alone. He looked lost. When Noynoy left, I expected him to catch the ball and play host. But he seemed clueless on this function. Epic fail.
Noynoy wasn't the first President I came to see at the Heroes Hall. He was the third. The first one was Erap, the second was Gloria. Just how many Filipinos get to be invited to Malacanang three times over a period of three presidents?
With Erap, it was through an invitation of a friend who was working for a commission under the Office of the President. I developed their website and I must add for free. When the commission's major report was presented to Erap, the stakeholders and the press, I was there. Whoever was in charge of Malacanang events during the time of Erap knew class. It was well-organized. The staff knew exactly where everyone should be. It was like a happy symphony where every note was in place. It looked effortless. And we know that when something seems effortless, a lot of work was carried through and miles and miles of brains moved to the last minute, to the minute detail of the affair. But all these had taken place before the first guest arrived and never after.
With Gloria, it was work-related. I had to be there because I was tasked to be there. The ambiance at the Heroes Hall was stiff and dictatorial. But the event was no doubt handled by professionals.
Noynoy is trying damn hard to be a good president. But he's surrounded himself with unskilled butterfingers.
Now, here's one sincere man leading us. There are just too many jesters and nincompoops in his court.
(Noynoy leaving the Heroes Hall)