Mrs. Arroyo goes to Tamayong
How I wish my news organization owned a chopper. Better yet, I wish teleporting is real.
The thing is, I can only dream about it while transfixed to a presidential chase today. The object of our chase probably didnot even know that we exist, more so that we were looking for her.
Right in the middle of a taxi ride from SM City to Davao’s airport, I caught myself mouthing to my colleagues: “Why am I pursuing this coverage?”
“Her” is President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who ‘honored’ Davao City today with a visit. She flew in directly from Sydney in Australia, fresh from the 15th APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit.
We did not chase her so to get quota stories. I ain’t got a quota.
Any presidential visit merits coverage from any legitimate media organization. She is the highest-ranking government official —and the public deserves to know what is she doing here.
The top Philippine Information Agency man in Mindanao, Efren E. told me by telephone that the President will arrive at around 3a.m. Monday morning. So a vehicle that will bring the media to Kidapawam City will wait starting 5a.m. at the PIA office.
Mrs. Arroyo was expected to grace a 10a.m. function in the PNOC – EDC geothermal site in Illomavis, Kidapawan City. There she should sign an executive order urging LGUs to create special economic zones around geothermal areas.
Notably, staff at the City Press Office texted their list of chosen few reporters that another vehicle will bring the media to Tamayong in upland Calinan by 8a.m.
Apparently, the President was invited to the 22nd Founding Anniversary of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name, the group of television evangelist Pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
A little past 9:30 a.m. the call was made: PNOC trip aborted due to bad weather.
Mr. Weather you’re so bad, Mrs. Arroyo went to Quiboloy’s prayer mountain in Tamayong, instead.
Honestly I did not plan to cover her. Since she was scheduled to go to Kidapawan, I just alerted our correspondents from the area. I went to the Kapihan sa SM City press conference thinking it will be worth covering at least as most of the reporters went to see the Queen.
But the abort order changed all that. Tamayong is in Davao, my reportorial area, so I’m duty-bound to cover. After a meeting with the Mandaya Tribal Professionals Association from Caraga, Davao Oriental for an interview – I decided to join friends who were asked to cover.
That’s why the taxi ride to the airport by 1p.m.
Ooops! Which airport? There goes the chase.
Badi of the Philippine Daily Inquirer and Kitoy of the new spoofy Ageance Kunwari Press got different directions from friends who went to Tamayong. Rize of Mindanao Times also got hers different.
We decided it was the Davao International Airport — so off we go. When we were there, somebody sent a message that the President will hold a command conference with security officials in the old airport —so off we go.
When we arrived in the ghostly old airport where the military’s Eastern Mindanao Command was based before, the guards told us matter-of-factly she was not there. So off we go back to DIA.
By the time we went past airport security — Mrs. Arroyo’s plane just took off to Manila.
Good bye. Frankly, I really should have pursued first the story of the Mandaya tribe.
What happened? Apparently there was no media briefing, add to it the cancellation of the PNOC visit.
Even the PIA — which was supposed to guide the media during Presidential visits —was at a loss at certain points.
Try this: my name was in the list of reporters for admission in the Tamayong function. Bombo Radyo’s Dennis Lazo wasn’t. He was there but was barred from entering. My name was in the list but I didn’t go there. Me and Dennis should have swapped.
I went to the airport for the presidential send-off and the so-called command conference before it. But airport security almost did not let me in because my name was not in the list —and they probably thought I’m one of the fly by night reporters. Wanna play boxing?
I did not receive text advisories from both the city hall and PIA organizers about the changes etc while others did. Hehe. I’m amused, I think I like it that they will not like me.
Before I forget that this post is not about me, I should probably nip the bud at this point.
Here’s my personal resolution: If you think the coverage is hastily called and the main protagonist is wielding her powers, think twice before going. When in doubt, don’t.
One of Murphy’s Laws goes like this: It is fundamental law of nature that nothing ever quite works out. This chase with prexy, you know, didn’t.
Just to relieve us a bit of the frustration and exhaustion, we grabbed a serve of halo-halo courtesy of another reporter in a Bolton Street restaurant. Luckily, it worked out. 🙂