Meeting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Today was a hell of a day. Woke up at 2PM to rush Selena and prepare her because she’d be going to Times Square with her friend, Noor. Of course, not only the 2 of them (stupid thinking!) but also with Noor’s mom and the nanny. I also prepared myself for the Philippine Embassy affair to meet the Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Marlou was invited to sing the opening prayer, guess what the song was? The Prayer from Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion. He’d be singing the song with the Philippine Embassy staff, Jennifer, who can also give justice to the song.

We reached Saloma Restaurant behind Concorde Hotel before 4PM. Some members of the 2 Filipino bands in Concorde were also with us. There were only 9 of us representing the Filipino musicians in the whole of Malaysia in the crowd. We were outnumbered by the domestic helpers who were dressed better than us. Most of us, the musicians, were in jeans! Hahaha! Most people out there were in their Filipiniana dresses and Barong Tagalog’s. We were seated on the 4th row and I was seated first from the center aisle, so I could get better pictures (which ended in all disaster snaps! Hahaha!).

We had a long wait for the president’s arrival… say 2 hours!!! The affair is actually 4-7PM but what we didn’t know is that the first 2 hours were for the guests’ arrival. They just showed ads of the biggest reality TV show in the Philippines, Pinoy Big Brother, on the big white screens. It got more and more boring as I stopped talking with my friends so that I can reserve my voice for the night. But when most of the guests were already bored, the projector operator suddenly clicks the Vanbasco Player on his desktop, played some Christmas songs in karaoke. We started singing softly, until we got the hang of it and in the end, we were shouting our lungs out and laughing at ourselves together with the rest of the waiting crowd. The VIPs sitting infront of us were kinda annoyed of our voices but we didn’t care. They were too poised in their Filipiniana costumes to join the fun.

At last, the long wait was over. The VIP’s started to arrive like the governors and mayors from different parts of the Philippines and cabinet members like Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo who directly seated on the vacant seats on the stage. And then, the wait was over when we heard sirens outside the Saloma Restaurant. We waved our little Philippine flags, oh, let’s rephrase that. They waved their little Philippine flags while I struggled to take photos with my camera. Darn, she’s really tiny! It was my first time to see Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in person, especially in less than a meter distance.

The affair finally started with the Philippine National Anthem as we all raised our right hands to our left chests. It was then followed by the opening prayer of Marlou and Jennifer. It was so solemn but I didn’t care because I couldn’t take great photos. The professional photographers were doing the same anyway so I just continued snapping away. After the song, I wasn’t sure if we’re not allowed to clap because it was supposed to be the “prayer”, but I couldn’t help myself from being proud of Marlou so I started clapping and the rest followed. Then the opening speech was done by the Charges d’Affairs of the Philippine Embassy followed by the presentation of awards for outstanding persons who have remarkably helped Filipinos in Malaysia in their own little ways. Our lady boss, Mrs. Cherina Chacko, were one of them for helping musicians in Malaysia. I know few of the other recipients and I was really proud of them. The president then gave her speech and talked about how proud she is for the Overseas Filipino Workers. The affair then ended shortly after that and when the President started walking back the aisle, I gained full confidence to come near her and I was introduced as one of the singers. I told her that I’m singing in the Shangri-La Hotel and hopefully she could come and visit us, even though I know that her schedule is hectic. But what I really wanted to say was we should meet up some other time and have a drink together! Hahahaha! Kidding!

We all rushed back to the hotel when we passed by a mamak stall. So we just packed some white rice and fired chicken and went back to the hotel. I got kinda worried about Selena, maybe they got back from Time Square already. I was right, she was sent back to Brice’s room. Nanay Susana was also there, too, because we weren’t around. Selena wanted to sleep over in Nanay’s house so I got her things ready.

It was a good night at work, good for a Sunday night. Did mostly requests and the Platters member Steve jammed one song with us again. He jammed couple of song the night before and he really worked the crowd. My friend Mir came with a Romanian model, Laura, who suddenly became our apple of the eye. JP was also there even though my Aunty Susan has already gone back to Manila for a vacation.

It was indeed a wonderful Sunday for me. I wasn’t really that thrilled to have met our President, of course it was big bonus to have met her, but it was more of the experience itself. With friends around you and having fun while others were too poised in their attires. Sometimes it’s the company of friends that matters more than the food and the affair itself.

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