A close encounter with PGMA


By Cha Monforte

It was already twilight when the then senatorial candidate and now President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo arrived and called up to be on stage at a miting de avanci in Nabunturan in year 1992. She was in white shorts and in t-shirt. Yuppie-like during her first run for senator. The town folks giggled and became rowdy upon hearing of GMA’s name, knowing she;s ex-President’s daughter. When she spoke, GMA right away held the audience captive by her audible voice and Bisaya words. It was the first and the last time yet that the PGMA stepped on Comval’s capital town.

She could have stepped anew in Nabunturan two years ago when she did not skip her Capitol visit during the time of ex-Gob. Joecab after PMS and PSG earlier scoured the Cabidianan Capitol. But by sudden turn of events, the helicopter ferrying her went straight to Compostela to see for herself the kalamansi seedlings and wati in the district office of Cong. Manuel “Way Kurat” Zamora. Joecab was left alone, and it was dyahi for him to go to Compostela and be with the group of his political nemesis who later caused for his defeat. But it was a so short visit, less than an hour or so on the 8th of July 2006. But the brief PGMA’s pass with the Comval Lakas group was actually giving another shot of glory to Cong. Way Kurat at a time when there was another impeachment threat against the President.

But that time when the President went to Compostela town, Joecab was accordingly left at Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City where he was talking with the Chinese investors who wanted to do mining in Diwalwal and in Surigao. The Chinese investors were accordingly part of the PGMA entourage. Were they the ZTE Chinese investors that became the controversial subject of whistleblower Jun Lozada?

I got another honored chance of seeing, in fact meeting GMA so close when she was already a reelected senator in 1995. She accompanied her late father ex-President Diosdado Macapagal and late mother Dr. Evangelina Macaraig Macapagal at their ancestral house at Timoga, Iligan City. Well, her mother had inherited a good Timoga land overflowing with fresh and so cool spring waters, which some portions of which were occupied with what society calls as squatters, the dregs. There was a negotiation I facilitated between Dona Eva and the two groups of urban poor occupying the Macapagal properties at Timoga and Buruun.

The lasting impression I got when the negotiation ran between the urban poor and Dona Eva was that GMA and ex-President Dadong had never uttered a single word to intervene in the process. They just observed and listened.

At the end, the parties settled for the Timoga occupants to go for a relocation and the Buruun occupants to remain for an onsite settlement on interest-free direct purchase for a ten-year period under the administration of the Lualhati Foundation of the Macapagals. It was a win-win situation as the Timoga occupants were promised a relocation to Buruun property.

In huddle with GMA after the successful negotiation, she told the group of urban poor leaders she could well initiate for more legislations favoring the urban poor and asked me as a PCUP area coordinator then to send raw proposals from the ground. A close encounter with a still young PGMA could have you mum especially that she’s a really straight-talking intellectual. She uttered words like policy legislations.

Ex-President Dadong jokingly complained that he retired a poor President and that the Timoga lot was the only piece Dona Eva got from her parents. When he tapped my back on how important a coordinator’s role in mediating contending parties in the government housing programs on the ground level, oh how I was honored to be with the senator who later become the country’s President and an ex-President, modesty aside.

Today, a new PGMA is coming out for her 8th SONA. I don’t how Filipinos describe her after her speech, while the SWS has just did her in. (For online edition, visit my blog at: https://cha4t.wordpress.com)


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