Last Monday I was among of the 650+ OFWs who attended the so-called Filipino Community Night at the Philippine Embassy, Riyadh. Though the said event was in line of PGMAs state visit in the Kingdom.
I and my friend Bernard Abad of OFWins (OFW Investors Society) arrived in Diplomatic Area at 7:00 pm., we passed the Diplomatic Quarter gate smoothly while security manning the entrance gate at our Philippine Embassy was very strict in body search and even those wearing Diplomatic IDs like me that was issued by POLO & OFWC were still searched by our kababayan belong to PGBI and Black Python under the supervision of OFWC execon member. But one thing was not familiar; Presidential Security Group (PSG) wearing their signature suit with earpiece as usual, manned every corner of the Embassy. I thought for a while and say to myself, wow this is it! Malacanang is in Riyadh.
Community leaders were given a front seat row facing the stage, the Filipina nurses wearing their white uniforms were in the right side row, on the left row were professional group like Institute of Integrated Electrical Engineers (IIEE-CRSA), Davaoenos Group with flying streamer, Pampaguenos of course were there too, and everyone cant just overlooked the big streamer posted on the right side wall of the stage with big letter printed on it “Welcome PGMA” courtesy of UNITED OFW, kulang nalang lagyan ng IBOTO for OFW Party List Group, HUH!
Early Government Official Ive seen before the entourage arrived was Special Envoy to Middle East Roy Cimatu who settled a seat along with Filcom leaders. S.E. Production led by their CEO Ranie Basanta was there as always to entertain the audience, and food was served while dancers and singers of the TFC Pop Star Search gave their best to kill the time waiting for the arrival of the President.
I vacated my chair in front of the stage to accompany my friends and our members from Industrial Area during dinnertime, and stayed there till the end of the program. Actually, the main reason was; I am so upset when Welfare Officer Bellido forgot to acknowledged some names of our colleagues, one of them was Engr. Faizal Sharque who heads the community security team who was there from 10:00 in the morning up to the program proper. One of my friend whispered to me that the names of those not mentioned was intentionally deleted from the lists, for reason I didnt know with a thought that Philippine politics is everywhere, any place at anytime.
Government Entourage like Sen. Miriam Santiago, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, SecLab Pat Sto. Tomas, Usec Seguis were among the first to occupy the seats provided at the stage. Special Envoy to KSA Tony Villamor introduced GMA after the President unveils the launching of National Broadcasting Network PTV 4. At first, am so grateful that one of our recommendation was given an instant reply, only to my dismay knowing that PTV 4 is part of the Channel 7 Kapuso package that is open for subscription to Filipinos in Middle East.
GMA in her speech made an announcement of a possible investment opportunities that Saudi government is going to undertake in our country more particularly in Mindanao; and other areas of investment like tourism, food processing and banking. She also informed the crowd that from 50 OFWs jailed for minor crimes, King Abdullah raised the numbers to 83 that are going to be freed, and probably to join in her flight back to Philippines. Now in newspapers the numbers increases to 138, good news indeed to their respective families back home.
However, the meeting with community leaders was not materialized due to the strict guidelines with her Chief Protocol and members of PSG. There were 14 leaders in the original list but around 30 or more were already waiting for her at the Ambassadors Living Room. The Ten Point Recommendation was instead submitted to Senator Miriam Santiago who gave her time with us at the lobby of the Ambassadors Residence. Usec Rafael Seguis assured us that the President will give time to study our recommendation and official reply will be sent in due time.
Sana Nga at hindi sa basurahan. Abangan ang susunod na kabanata, Kung Kailan di ko alam.