Tag Archives: US Visit

Sleepless in New York: GMA takes Manhattan in a marathon of meetings

by Momar Visaya/AJPress

NEW YORK – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s whirlwind business trip to the U.S. brought her to the Big Apple Thursday and Friday (June 26 & 27) as she met business moguls, investors, and the local Filipino community in the East Coast.

The President arrived here Wednesday night after a successful three-day working visit to Washington D.C., where she was able to meet President George W. Bush.

On Thursday night, she had the opportunity to update and thank her countrymen about the ongoing relief operations being done in Manila after typhoon Frank pummeled the archipelago, along with her report on how successful this trip has turned out to be.

“The US was one of the first nations to offer assistance because we are such strong, dependable allies of each other,” the Chief Executive said in her 18-minute speech, as she thanked America for their immediate assistance in this time of need.

The President said the US government immediately sent to the Philippines the USNS Stockham, two helicopters, a P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft, and a U.S. navy divers to assist in the rescue and recovery operations at the height of the super typhoon that hit the country.

“That is what a good ally does,” the President said.

Arroyo also decribed Philippine-US relationship as “strong, growing and mature” and noted that there are now four million Americans of Filipino descent in America and 250,000 US citizens who live and work in the Philippines.

At a time of global tensions and economic uncertainty, the President emphasized that the two countries “remain steadfast allies and friends.”

The President also reported on the relief operations being done in the Philippines and asked the audience for a moment of silence to pray for the victims and families hit by typhoon Frank.

Hindi na natutulog ang National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Umaga man o gabi dito sa America ay tinatawagan ko sila. No wonder they call me a hands-on President, and rightly so, ” Arroyo said.

During her speech, the President reported that as of 6 pm of June 26, 2008, Manila time, the total number of affected population is 600,000 families in 4,000 barangays, 380 municipalities and cities in 45 provinces of Ilocos, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Mimaropa (Oriental and Occidental Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Bicol, Visayas, Northern, Southern and Central Mindanao, the National Capital Region, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and the Caraga Region.

The President assured the audience that the government is doing everything to aid in the clean-up, provide disaster relief and bring comfort to the families of the victims.

“We are also holding the ferry company accountable to ensure that “we find out how this ferry tragedy could have occurred/ so that we can take steps to make sure it never happens again,” the President said.

Hundreds of Filipino Americans from the Northeast United States – Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York and New Jersey – trooped to the Hilton Hotel Thursday, June 26, to attend the community meeting with the President.


“During our trip, we are advancing key issues that impact on the Philippines, particularly during this time of global economic uncertainty,” the President said.

The President had several business meetings earlier in the day with Manhattan-based corporations “to expand their investments in and trade with the Philippines and to add new jobs.”

This leg of her New York trip is a business mission, and she thanked the businessmen who were part of her official delegation, which include Teresita Sy-Coson, President of Shoemart, Inc and Chairman of Banco de Oro Universal Bank and Enrique K. Razon, Jr., Chairman of International Container Services, Inc.

President Arroyo’s official delegation also include First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, sons Cong. Mikey Arroyo and Cong. Diosdado “Dato” Arroyo, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, former Press Secretary and now member of the Monetary Board of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Ignacio Bunye, Budget Secretary Rolando Andaya, Finance Secretary Gary Teves, BSP Gov. Armando M. Tetangco, Jr. Other members of the House of Representatives who were her in this US visit include Cong. Joseph Santiago (Catanduanes), Cong. Anton Lagdameo (Dist. 2 – Davao del Norte), Cong. Conrado Estrella, Jr. (Dist. 6-Pangasinan), Cong. Antonio Cuenco (Dist. 2-Cebu), Cong. Raul del Mar (Dist. 1-Cebu) and Cong. Eduardo Gullas (Dist. 1-Cebu) for their continued trust in her administration. The President hopes to push her campaign to advance economic and investment opportunities in the Philippines that would create more new jobs and sustain economic growth.

Busy day

On Thursday, she started the third leg of her 10-day, three state working visit to the United States, at 10 a.m. by visiting the New York City Stock Exchange (NYSE).

A Philippine flag was draped alongside three American flags, including a giant one that adorned the NYSE building on Wall Street.

Upon her arrival at the NYSE, the President was met by Duncan Niederauer, chief executive officer of the NYSE Euronext. After their meeting, Niederauer presented to the President a token with inscribed Bull and Bear statue.

Immediately after her visit to the NYSE, the President proceeded to the Bellevue Hospital on First Avenue, where she was welcomed by the officers and staff of the hospital including Filipino nurses.

The President also had a brief tour and interacted with the Filipino staff working in the hospital. Following the hospital visit, President Macapagal-Arroyo received several callers at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel.


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GMA takes Fresno by ‘storm’

FRESNO – Meeting with almost 900 Filipino Americans from Fresno and nearby counties like Stockton, Bakersfield, Modesto and Merced, you can say Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took Fresno by ‘storm’ – literally. The meeting was the President’s first official activity in her 10-day working visit to the United States.

Held at the Fresno Convention Center last Sunday, June 23, the meeting started with a Mass followed by a short speech and a video conference with the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and cabinet officials who were in Malacanang early Monday (Manila time).

Reaching out to the community

In her short speech, President Arroyo called on the FilAm community to extend her assistance to victims of typhoon ‘Frank’ (international codename: Fengshen) in the Philippines.

Ngayon may bagyong dumaan sa Pilipinas na aasahan na naman ang lahat ng gustong tumulong,” the President said in her opening statement from Fresno.

“To our FilAm brothers and sisters, for your generosity towards the less fortunate in the Philippines, and for your commitment to enhance development in our motherland, salamat!” she said.

The President also lauded her kababayans in the US for their doing so much without losing their bonds of affection for their motherland and their inherent pride in their Filipino heritage. Every year, FilAms send all forms of assistance to schools, hometowns, provinces and local organizations.

“From medical and dental missions, to educational and internet support, to humanitarian and charitable causes, Filipino Americans are ever ready to help the land of your forefathers,” she said.

She then again appealed for any assistance to the typhoon victims that could be coursed through the various embassies and consulates via disaster-relief donation accounts.

A milestone and a trip down memory lane

The President’s visit to Fresno isn’t her first. In 1999, the then Vice President Arroyo was invited by the Chamber of Commerce as a guest speaker. Titus Versoza, who was with her that time, shared an interesting story about it. “After the event, we all drove to San Francisco, sabi ng Preside nte that time, kami naman ang taya sa dinner.” Of course, there was no way that Versoza would let Arroyo pay for dinner, but he had only $80.00 in his pocket, plus another $20 or $30 of his own money in his pocket so he wasn’t sure that it could cover everything they ordered. Since they also chose a Chinese restaurant which did not accept any credit cards, Versoza prayed that what he had will be enough. Luckily, the bill amounted to just $90.00. “There was even extra cash for tip,” Versoza said.

Arroyo extended her gratitude towards the hospitality given to her by Versoza’s group that time, “We will never forget the generous hospitality in Fresno,” she said that time to Versoza. But what makes this story more interesting is what Versoza said to Arroyo. “Madame Vice President, pagbalik nyo ng Fresno, presidente na kayo,” he said and to this the then Vice President Arroyo humbly replied, “Mahirap mangyari ‘yan.” Nine years later, Versoza’s statement then proved to be true.

Always a working President

In spite of being the US, the President remained in close contact with her office to remain informed of what is happening in the Philippines. Prior to the video conference in Fresno, she had already had a teleconference shortly after arriving in San Francisco last Saturday night. Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said, “The President is very concerned about what is happening,” he said and added, “She has been getting updates and gave specific instructions on what to do about the situation. She is actually personally handling this herself.”

Before meeting with the Filipino community, the President also visited the Community Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in the agricultural city of Fresno.

Bumisita ako ngayon para ipaalam sa inyo na ipinagmamalaki namin ang ating mga medical practitioners dito sa Amerika,” she said.

There are about 2,000 Filipino nurses and medical practitioners gainfully employed at CRMC. In the past seven years, some 5,976 Filipino nurses were deployed to the US to fill up the 130,000 vacancies for nurses and physical therapists, according to Acting Labor Secretary Marianito Roque.


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