A friend and ‘F.O.E.’

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

LOS ANGELES – Aside from representing US presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, candidate for member of the State Assembly (Dist. 32) and former State Senator and Assemblyman Phil Wyman was at the Fresno Convention Center for another reason – friendship.

This friendship of course, is with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and and First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.  Some would wonder how an American politician would be closely related to the first couple other than for official business, but Wyman’s story is one for the books.
“I met the President because her husband, Mike, and I were classmates,”  said Wyman in an interview with the Asian Journal.  From 1970 to 1971, Wyman was a graduate student at the Ateneo de Manila University Law School.  “I was the only foreign student at that time,” he said and jokingly added, “We even set up our own fraternity – FOE –  Friends of Everybody.”

Wyman has so many memorable experiences with the couple, but he has one that he regards as the most important – the day when he was invited to dinner at the house of the former president, Diosdado Macapagal (and the President’s father), with the former first lady, and the couple.  “My first thought was, ‘What a remarkable family,”  Wyman said.

On politics and stars

Before even going to his political career, Wyman believes that dinner was a factor in his life in public service.  “During that time, I had a wonderful conversation with the President’s father, about life,” Wyman shared and added, “and a background on how to be successful in politics.”  He admits that he was overwhelmed and humbled by the experience,  “I was just a buck sergeant back then, but there I was, having a conversation with the former president of the Philippines.”

Wyman continued on by saying that he saw the Macapagal clan as a “wonderful and nuclear family.”  That time, President Arroyo had a used clothing store for the destitute.  “She was interested in economics, and I knew that she had a future in politics,” he said.

Outside law and politics, Wyman and the First Gentleman were also charter members of the Philippine Astronomical Society.  In fact, he still remembers President Arroyo’s message for her, after getting their family involved in astronomy. “It was the sweetest thing – ‘Tell Phil that I remember that he was the one who taught our kids about stars.”

There was no doubt that Wyman’s affection for the couple goes beyond politics.  At the meeting last Sunday, he proudly showed Asian Journal a cherished possession – a photo of him with the couple during their graduation.  He shared that he not only see the President as a great leader, but also a great friend.  “They’re the best friends I ever have.”


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