Meeting Senator Poe at the exclusive media press conference prior to Kalayaan’s celebration of the 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence, was not only a privelege, but an unexpected experience of admiration for a public servant who humbly sounded like a powerful, potential Presidential candidate.
During the press conference chaired by Susan Dilkes and moderated by Atty. Allison Aquino-Silva, Senator Poe responded to a wide variety of topics ranging from concerns on the allegedly fradulent election results during the 2004 Presidential elections when her Dad lost to GMA, to the questions on the non-bailable plunder charges against the three senators involved in the PDAF scam; to the question on who monitors the millions of financial aid poured to the Haiyan typhoon victims and futher, on a lighter note, the question on her plans of running gor the top office in the next election and how she feels coming to LA where she, along with Senator Chiz Escudero, received the highest OAV votes during the last election, giving way to her current senatorial post.
Politely, Senator Poe answered each and every question with her wit and charm, pointing out the rampant ballot-rigging in the Mindanao area where they have proof of ballot tampering during the 2004 elections; regarding the PDAF scam, she said that those guilty will be charged to the full extent of the law and on the millions of financial aid to the Haiyan typhoon victims, that Senator Ping Lacson, as the Rehab czar has the responsibilty given him to report and give updates on the rebuilding programs currently being done. Finally, she said she has no plans to run for the top post, but then she can’t predict the future either and she further quipped saying that she was glad to come to LA to thank the largest Filipino community in the US for voting for her, inspite of being number 22 on the pre-election polls back home..
The smooth media press conference was followed by the Kalayaan celebration’s grand gala, where charming emcees were: Philippine News Southern California correspondent, Lydia V. Solis and Noel Omega who both projected a warm welcome to everyone and they proceede with the evening’s program, mentioning the 2014 theme of “pagsunod sa yapak ng mga dakilang Pilipino tungo sa malawakan at permanenteng pagbabago.”
The national anthem was sung by Sara Mislang, followed by a historical “kalayaan” movie
Invocation was done by Bishop Oscar Solis followed by the welcome remarks of Bing Dela Vega, the overall 2014 Kalayaan Chairman. .
In his introductory speech, Consul General Leo Herrera Lim described Grace Poe’s initial college life at the University of the Philippines (of course, a UP alumni himself) and at Boston College in Masachusetts, where she graduated with a degree in Political Science. She was priveleged to have been raised by famous parents, Susan Roces and actor-turned Presidential candidate, Fernando Poe, Jr.
Though she grew up in the limelight, Senator Poe recalled some of the special moments she had with her Dad growing up and when he passed away, she realized she wanted to continue her Dad’s unfinished “vision for a greater Philippines” mission, prompting her to move her family (husband Neil Llamanzares, son Brian and daughters Hanna and Nike) from their home in Boston, back to the Philippines.
Senator Grace Poe’s “vision” includes: a food/nutrition program for kids, particularly those who come from underpriveleged families; a Freedom of Information Law proposal where print and broadcast media professionals have direct access to government records in order to enable them to expose government corruption and on that note which was applauded by us all, she said that the PDAF scam would have been known earlier if we have such a law passed; her third advocacy is the improvement on overseas remittance systems which she personally experienced while living in US and finally, she wants to encourage the worldwide eligibility of the Philippines as a major filmmaking destination much like New Zealand’s opportunity when their country was chosen as the place of filmmaking destination on the blockbuster movie “Lord of the Rings.”
In closing, Senator Grace Poe thanked everyone, particularly Kalayaan Chairman, Bing Dela Vega and the officers and members of Kalayaan and the packed Westin LAX ballroom of approximately more than 1,500 kababayans who graced the celebration in honor of the 116th Anniversary of Philippine Independence. Speaking graciously in Tagalog she said, “maraming salamat po sa inyong pagtitipon sa kaarawan ng 116th na taon ng ating Kalayaan. Mabuhay po kayong lahat!”
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