The tribes of Africa believe in one thing, that once you achieve the title of King; you can never become anything less. Not only do the tribes of Africa invoke their ancestors to guide them, and bring them to find peace and meaningful solutions to the troubles and strife within a divided tribe, but they invoke their past as a way to remedy the future.
If one thing in the Philippines that I’ve come to know and understand is the fact that here, like Africa, a king is never anything less. Even those understanding the days of Ferdinand Marcos truly comprehend what I mean here.
By a stroke of luck (under par of course) I was invited to Rancho Palos Verdes Golf Course in Davao City. Attending the event were those also from the BIMP-EAGA International Trade Fair at SM Lanang Convention Center. People of all walks of life including those from the local government like Karlo ‘Boy’ Nograles, Jesus Dureza and numerous others attended the charitable event. But one man – one ‘King’ stood out from them all, the honorable Fidel V. Ramos.
I will say that I have reservations about politicians in the Philippines, but that comes at a cost, the simple cost of not really knowing or understand the true man that stands before you. My meeting and breakfast with Ramos and the Dureza was ‘humanising’, for a lack of a better word. That time gave me the ability to see, learn, laugh and poke fun at the human side of political and personal shortcomings.
Everyone greeted Mr Ramos as “Good Morning Mr President,” that’s when my mind drifted back to the legends of Africa, back to the Kings of a nation, once you are one you can never become anything less.
Ramos asked me many questions about America, from politics to ideology, to Barack Obama to his time in West Point, living in Pennsylvania at Valley Forge and much much more. We spoke of Ferdinand Marcos to Marium Defensor Santiago and even about why I’m living in the Philippines (I can make the best of them smile when I tell them “I took a wrong turn, di ba”).
After breakfast and some photo ops, one of the Jaycees asked for the President to sign his Jaycees shirt, but instead Ramos did something even better – he made art. Ramos made the famous 19th hole along with a skidded ball in the appropriate section on the shirt (aka= ‘far below’).
Our morning breakfast together would ultimately have to come to an end as the King himself had already booked a flight back to Manila and of course was running late. But his Filipino time came with many surprises including all of us blowing out a birthday candle for our new friend Louel from the Jaycees. President Ramos not only greeted and posed for many people on the way out but his humour even came at the ultimate hour of leaving the club house. He scooted out the window and gave us a final wave goodbye, and of course he could never do so without the likes of a beautiful Filipina.
President Ramos gives one hell of a firm handshake but his kindness is as gentle as an ocean breeze. Our time together at Rancho Palos Verdes was without a doubt an awe inspiring moment, one that I will not soon forget.
My remainder of the day was long, and lasted far into the night with award ceremonies, drinks from my favorite gang at Alchohall and the incredible food at the clubhouse buffet.
My day lasted from 6am to 11pm and every hour I must say I enjoyed myself. I have to mention how impressed I was with discovering the eager young minds of the men and women of the Davao Jaycees. Not only did their kindness flow out of them with ease but their smart, professional and uplifting perception of true life in the Philippines came shining through at every turn. Without them, my day would have not been complete and for that I can only be thankful for meeting such an incredible team of professional men in Davao City.
I’d also like to thank the City of Davao, BIMP-EAGA, The Davao Bloggers and so many others for having me at this incredible event. It is days like these that often alter the mentality that sometimes comes with living in the Philippines for a foreigner, today my cup runeth’ over, maraming salamat.