At a recent dinner, I had the serendipity to be seated directly across a powerful lady long considered a force in the Filipino business community, and she, of all people, had wonderful things to say about the president and the economic state of the nation…
“Tell me what’s happening now. Are you pro- or anti- GMA?”
“You can’t brand me as pro-GMA. We’re both strong women and we’ve had ‘run-ins.’ I’m ‘mataray’ and she’s ‘mataray.’ We had a shouting match in the chapel at Saint Luke’s [ Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City ] when Mike was really sick. But credit must be given where it is due. In this case, to her.” she qualified.
“Do you honestly think that we could be here partying if everything had fallen apart economically??? Do you know anyone here who really got affected badly? You… were you badly affected? No! See what I mean?” she asked.
“Not seriously, Thank God. But we’re OK now. Could be worse, you know.” I replied.
She nodded in agreement. “That’s because the economic buffers are in place. That’s why we haven’t fallen apart. She really knows her economics.”
“That’s her advantage over Erap. Her expertise on economics. Erap is an expert on every other thing — wine, women, and song — but economics.” I recalled.
“If we go technical, I can tell you the figures of our current [ economic ] state… They’re actually good.” she suggested.
“Oh please, spare me the figures!” I mock-pleaded.
She declared: “She’s the only president who has managed to make payments on our foreign debts. The only one!!! I talked to Say [ Central Bank Governor Amando Tetangco ]… ‘Where exactly are we???’ And he said: ‘We’re out of IMF.'” [ IMF – International Monetary Fund ].
“We’re out of IMF???!!!” I asked, incredulous. Unbelievable because new loans from IMF were daily breakfast fare during the Marcos era.
She continued: “Say said: ‘Look, I’ve announced it several times already, but nobody’s paid attention!’ ”
“Infrastructure is all over the place. Roads, bridges, the works! I talked with Alfred [ Alfredo Romualdez Jr. ] and he said roads and bridges are coming up all over the Visayas. The action is outside Manila. One has to see it to believe it!” she explained excitedly.
“What about the supposed 40 % payment one has to make at the Malacanang palace for a deal to be approved?” I inquired audaciously.
“Not true! If you know Mike [ First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo ] as well and as long as I have, you know he’s not capable of it. Too much of a gentleman.”
“What about the vicious rumor going around chichi social circles during the First Gentleman’s hospitalization: that the President had spent much time in the Saint Luke’s presidential suite with her laptop recording the trail of USD $$$ and EE Euro placements remembered and dictated by her ailing husband, lest he die and the whereabouts of all that money be lost?” I asked, curious about her version of the story, of which she had none.
“Not true! He was really sick and she was really worried.”
“And what about the supposed 70 % cut of the Arroyos in the settlement of the Marcos USD $$$ and EE placements and properties?” I naughtily asked.
“Not true! Do you think they would agree? Do you think Greggy would agree? No way. Not Greggy.”