A Date With The PRESIDENT
by Stephanie Jones Jallorina
The President is the supreme authority in our country, and meeting him, up-close and personal, is a memorable experience that anyone can pride themselves on, and will always live to remember. Jeepney Press gladly brings you interesting and funny accounts and recounts of people behind and upfront, on and for, the November 14 Dream “First” Date! As a year-opening salvo, let me note that the “First Date” was some elusive dream that came true. It was an old school kind of love, Unang Dalaw, where everyone got so excited not to only polish each of their assignment, but to finally decide on what to wear, how to look immensely better, and perhaps, to even smell far and good. Which one were you?
Ricky Lumenario “Mr. Perfect Practice but ABSENT during the BIG DAY”
Kuya Ricky is a musician by heart. He was a member of the Choir, taking his first shot on beat box, wanting to express himself to the President had he not been obliged to come to work. “Pinag-igihan ko ang practice ngunit sumabit lang sa work nung big day, sayang! Pero sinuot ko yung yellow rubber ko at tinanong ako ng boss ko sa airport kung bakit daw ako may ganun. Ang tangi kong naisagot ay dahil sa nandito nga ang presidente natin. Pero wala din, call of duty eh so I have to serve. But I am still glad knowing I “almost” sang and met, and surely, was willing to do it for the President. On second thought, maybe it is not yet time for us to meet.”
Lily “Ms. Extraordinary Christian”
Ms. Lily’s story is very inspiring. She is a Sectarian Christian but being so did not hinder her from rendering support to the Choir for the Mass with the President, of the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic nation. “Hindi ako nag-alinlangan nung maimbitahan akong sumali sa choir kasi at the end of the day, ang aking pag-awit ay para sa pangulo, para sa ating bansa, at para sa iisang Diyos na ating pinalulugdan.” Ms. Lily is also married to a Japanese who was equally supportive during her late-night choir practice, during the preparation of cranes to be given to the President and during their JaPinoy son, Yuki-kun, practice for, and presentation, where they even brought extra barong for other kids. Their lovely family represents the successful Japanese-Filipino marriages and kin.
Dr. Mel Kasuya “The Musical Director / Herald of Tahanan”
Doc Mel rehearsed and directed the applauded 37-Man Choir from 10 different parishes that made the Mass with the President more solemn and meaningful. On behalf of the Filipino Community in Japan that was present, Doc Mel also conveyed to the President about the “Tahanan,” a dream home for our children, and she expressed that, “Friends have been calling to say that the affair was very organized, the mass was solemn, the choir was good, the children’s part was touching and the sentiments of the FilCom were properly relayed to President.” Doc Mel ably articulated in her message the thoughts and insights from some 20 FilCom organizations and individuals.
Sis Nori Marquez, St Ignatius Church
Sis Nori was very thankful to be invited in that Filipino gathering to welcome the President. She has witnessed the reception for the coming of former Presidents Estrada and GMA but the recent meeting with PNoy is the best and most meaningful; a mass with the President. “I felt it was a very warm, familial get-together. The mass was very solemn and I really value the opportunity of praying together with our President. The presence of the children was very heart-warming and touching. They gave us the great joy and hope of seeing the Filipino spirit growing in our children of the second generation…The liturgy of the eucharist, the choir, the President’s speech, the gift from the children...lahat ay nakakapuno sa puso...something we have to be grateful to the Lord.”
Dennis Sun “The Presidential Emcee, The Designer”
Nakatutuwang isipin na maski ang ating Editor-in-Chief na si Kuya Dennis ay hindi pahuhuli sa ganitong pagkakataon. Tinanghal na Global Pinoy, ang likha at disenyo ng ating mahal na editor na streamer/ banner/ID na nagsilbing tanging dekorasyon ang isa sa mga nagpatingkad ng okasyon. Simpleng disenyo ngunit tumatatak sa puso na animo’y bandila ng pagkakaisa, pag-asa ng bagong Pilipino dito sa Japan. “Madali na siguro para sa akin ang maging emcee dahil sadyang napagtibay na ako ng panahon pero ang hindi ko makakalimutan ay yung kung pang ilang ulit kong idinisenyo ang nasabing streamer – disenyo, pasa, ulit– hanggang sa bumalik ulit sa unang yari. At ang mas nakakatuwa ay kung paano animo’y “Meeting of Great Minds” na tulung-tulong tayong mga Pilipino para ipakita sa disensyo ang sa iisang adhikain. Ang marinig na idinisplay ang mga ID, nagpa-picture sa streamer bilang memorabilia sa pambihirang pagkakataon ay nakakataba ng puso dahil alam ko naging parte ako.”
Jhun Faderanga “The Production Head”
Jhun has organized so many similar productions before but getting as close with the President of the Philippines is surely by far and will be a lifetime thrill. “Getting an opportunity to work for our President was one of the greatest things that ever happened in my life! Natural na nakakapagod dahil pinag-iigihang mabuti na lahat ay pulido at ikaaya-aya ng ating Pangulo pero sakaling mabibigyan pa ulit ng pagkakataon, lagi kaming handang tumulong sa abot ng aming makakaya.”
Ami Banzon and Natalie Datu, the Proud Parents of Joz and Nicole
Proud mommies Ate Ami and Ate Natalie feature a comical and touching parent-children story on a first date! Ate Ami was all-genki to coach her lovely daughters especially her eldest Joz, our Little Miss Philippines, deliver in Tagalog the children’s prayer for the President. “Having three children, our anticipation of a crowd (close to 40 kids in attendance) control were high that we prepared videos, activities and rehearsed their Japanese entrance song and the “Self-Less Love” finale to keep them focused and in place. But we were more surprised with how behaved and cooperative the children were during that day. During the recognition-after-party, Joz asked her mom, “How about the kids, Mommy?” Ate Ami related that the children were truly one with us in that gathering that they recognize their stake for their and their fellow children’s future here in Japan; they must have felt that hope is in the air that the new President, in his super power, can fulfill for them.
Ate Natalie can never be more proud she went out her way to look for Japanese kimono for Nicole, our Little Ambassadress to Japan, and had her all made-up to show how we have come to embrace the Japanese culture, second to ours. During recessional, a good number of Japanese in the audience hugged and pride on Nicole for getting too close with the President. They were so appreciative and happy as if a part of them has graced their own president or their Emperor for that matter.
Ate Natalie also recounted that what was sweeter about the Meeting with the President was the preparation of the cranes. In such a short notice, she and her children were able to make 700 perfect cranes as if preparing a good meal, or the house for the coming of a suitor! “Ang nangyaring ito ay isa talagang napakagandang alala para sa akin, sa aking buong pamilya, na yung nasa ibang bansa pa ay tumawag para lang batiin kami, at lalo na para sa aking anak. At sana ay masundan pa ang ganitong pagtitipon dahil sinumang magulang ay gugustuhing maibahagi at makibahagi ang anak nila para sa kanilang magandang kinabukasan.”
Angelo Roa, the First Child
Angelo Roa is one amazing kid! He cannot contain his excitement to finally meet and handshake the President. His excitement was contagious that we settled our when-to-wear-his-barong-charade at 4:00 pm and then rehearse his “Hi, Mr. President! God bless you,” lines which he would wittingly change to, “Pwede ka bang maka-dinner Mr. President?” Pero noong mismong iniabot na niya ang crane, “Na star-struck ako Ate. Ako yung unang nag-handshake tuloy!” Truly as I recall what has unfolded two meters away from where I was standing, in awe, was a handshake that stir the rest of the Filipino audience from their seats and that will make a big difference in Angelo’s life. I was seeing a happy child, flying even without wings!
John and Andrei Abrenica, the Blessed Bearers
Jan is Angelo’s partner crane bearer; unbelievably a shy kid no more when pressed to meet the President. It was a relief that he enjoyed and did perfectly well his short stint of a lifetime. And what was surprisingly funny was, “Ate bakit naiba? Di ba sa kaliwa dapat yung camera?” He and Angelo both complained kasi baka daw pangit yung kuha nila. I just have to make mention of the cute Andrei, youngest brother of Jan, whose birthday fall the same big day. The kid will surely have something historical and sentimental to share about with other kids who wish the same experience; when the future continues to be better to them, that is.
Consul-General Solphie and Madam Precie Confiado, The Dream Team
Together with Nanay Anita, we are sincerely thankful to two beautiful persons on top of everything; ang pinapangarap na tambalang Solphie and Precie, na tunog Guy and Pip! Ang isang magandang patunay at blessing na rin kung bakit naging malaking success iyong Meeting with the President ay dahil sa lalim ng pananampalataya ng mag-asawang Confiado na nagsilbing inspirasyon sa ating lahat.
Everything has been smooth and was professionally done because God was with top leaders every step of the way. Congen with the Embassy Secretariat and the 150 FilCom Volunteers have brilliantly covered the entire program and mobilization, while Tita Precie has been magically instrumental in the challenging 10-minute children’s program that has been the highlight of the Meeting, and which receives endearing and positive feedback. Sis Nori even suggested that in the next Meeting with the President maybe we could honor all the children living in Japan with Filipino roots. Both Confiados, to me, are like Talent Scouts; they have keen eyes and a very generous heart, the eyes of God who calls by name those who can be His Shaping Hands, and the heart to share their unwavering passion and love for Him by doing His Works worthy and well, and together proclaim His Good News.
When I received the invitation on the President's visit, I marveled yes, but I was sure I was not as too emotional and ecstatic as I remember I and Tess Simbre were during the hold-up drama of HK nationals in August that has lambasted "my" President's name in a "major, major" way for the first time upon his seat. Even Friday, a week before his actual visit, when ConGen and Tita Precie, asked me to help with the children's program, I was half-jokingly telling my buddy Tina Adovas, "It is not sinking in yet Shalani, nada!" and she came in a knowing-smile-rebutt, "Oh, com'on Liz!" It was not sinking in probably because I was wishing for someone else to appear; someone less political, someone who can relate on a more personal level, with us.
The children raised here don’t even know who he is and in their young minds, could care less about Philippines or about him for they are born, and more or less will stay here for good more years. But when they were lined up the tail of the grand stairs of Yokohama auditorium and were told to listen to the President's speech, they were all ears. I remember the littlest Bien, grasping to see the President's big frame and asked, "Who is He?" I could have easily answered, "He is the President Bien; with whom we shall give those cranes," minding that his gorgeous parents may have briefed him about someone running a country. But there is more in Bien's intelligent mind yet simple question that demands a tough answer...
But at certain points, of all the preparations, the sharing and reflections that I have heard from all Filipinos, Japanese and foreign friends who took part in that rare Meeting with the President, I got a glimpse of idealism, hope, and a sense of pride, duty and honor, not only from the President, which he surely inherited from both his parents. I realized, during those moments, that perhaps character cannot help but manifest itself. What was most appealing about and could be hyped about that chance encounter with the President is the character built among Filipinos. The character to lead by example and relay the Divine intervention as to our Embassy leaders; the character to mobilize, to share and optimize the talents, time and treasures as with fellow Filipinos who gathered, who sang, who rendered, and who delivered; the character to inspire, to strike, to balance, to harmonize as with the children, our future leaders, to whom we are building Tahanan for, and the character to recognize the assistance of a more Supreme Being than the President himself in all this.
Character is inescapable, and Filipinos have yet and again showed the rest of the world that we are a people of character, a people of God.