We had a hectic month-long journey to France including Lourdes where we visited once more the shrine of our Blessed Virgin Mary, then to Qatar in the Middle East, and in the last few days back to our home province of Pangasinan.
With wife Gina, we spent five days until yesterday with our former constituents, relatives, friends, teachers, farmers, fishermen, and employees in government in Pangasinan’s 4th Congressional District, where we served for twenty years before the advent of Martial Law until 2010, followed by Gina’s two terms in office.
We joined our son, now 33-year-old Christopher, who is beginning his second congressional term as he visited new projects in Dagupan City and San Fabian, both along the South China Sea.
Then we motored to the other municipalities of Mangaldan and San Jacinto enroute to the miraculous Blessed Virgin Mary town of Manaoag, visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims throughout the year every Sunday and even on ordinary days.
Christopher’s projects recently launched included irrigation systems, municipal and barangay roads, school buildings, barangay halls, health centers, covered courts, new farm equipments, and computer sets for 44 public schools.
In some villages, hedistributed water pumps and medicines, and even had experts conduct a martial arts seminar and self-defense classes for barangay police (tanods).
He also launched the 1stDe Venecia Challenger’s Cup, a 13-kilometer cross country race traversing the upland barangays of San Fabian town.
Christopher held a week-long birthday celebration by inaugurating projects, conducting medical and dental missions, and launching livelihood programs in the 4th District of Pangasinan.
We told wife Gina that we believe Christopher is doing better now than in our own first term which was cut short by Marcos’ Martial Law and that he far exceeded our expectations.
We were joined during our Pangasinan visit by the celebrated Pangasinan publisher Roger Oriel from Binalonan, who now owns and publishes the popular Asian Journal newspaper in the U.S.: twice a week in Los Angeles, California, weekly in San Francisco and Las Vegas, and also once a week in New York City and New Jersey in the East Coast.
Wife Corazon team up with Roger in running their modest network and the editor-in-chief in L.A. is 26-year-old daughter Christina, a graduate of George Washington University, assisted by another daughter Carina, who will soon graduate in Fordham University.
The Oriels of Binalonan, Pangasinan used to own the Oriel Vocational School in Binalonan for 50 years.
Roger began as a junior accountant of Sycip, Gorres & Velayo founded by the legendary Washington Sycip, then became a small publisher in 1982, g to lead the first Filipino Yellow Pages directory until 1990 with 600 pages in California.
In the Philippines, the Yellow Pages directory was introduced in 1958 by the American-based firm, GTE Directories Corporation.
We are encouraging the 64-year-old Roger to put up a Filipino-led newspaper in the Arab world, based in Dubai or Jeddah, followed eventually by a broadsheet in Iran’s capital Tehran to cover both the Shiite and Sunni cities of Islam, where this columnist pioneered for the Philippines as a businessman on both sides of the Persian Gulf (Arab Gulf to the Arabs) from the 1970’s until the early 1980’s, following our earlier stint in government as Minister-Economic Counselor in Saigon in the old Indo-China in the late 1960’s and then as congressman before Martial Law.
In a few weeks, from November 18-21, we will travel to Phnom Penh to address the Asia Pacific Summit co-hosted by the Seoul- and New York-based Universal Peace Federation (UPF) and the Government of Cambodia underPrime Minister Hun Sen.
Incumbent and former presidents and prime ministers, parliamentarians, and civil society and religious leaders from the Asia Pacific region will discuss issues besetting the Asian region and the international community, such as peace and security, poverty, climate change, and terrorism and extremism.
UPF will hold a World Summit in Seoul in February next year.
Prior to the Phnom Penh conference, we hope to fly to Washington D.C. with Senator MushahidHussain Sayed of Pakistan and former South Korean Ambassador to Russia and Armenia Park Ro-byug, Vice Chairman-Special Rapporteur and Secretary General, respectively, of our International Conference of Asian Political Parties (ICAPP), for consultative meetings with incumbent and former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate about a possible working cooperation between ICAPP and members of the U.S. Congress and the Republican and Democratic parties.
As we mentioned in this column much earlier, ICAPP has working partnerships with the Latin American political parties under the Permanent Conference of Political Parties of Latin America and the Caribbean (COPPPAL), the Council of African Political Parties (CAPP), and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) and European lawmakers.
In December, we will travel to Terengganu, Malaysia to preside at the 33rd Meeting of the ICAPP Standing Committee and address the inaugural meeting of the newly-created subsidiary group under ICAPP, the Tourism Promotion and Inter-City Cooperation (TOPIC) Council, headed by our good friend Dato Seri ShahidanKassim, former Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister of Malaysia, now led by the legendary and still capable Prime Minister MahathirMohamad, pride of the Malays in Southeast Asia.
We will be accompanied in these trips by our long-time Assistant, AldwinRequejo, who previously worked as junior executive in the Secretariat of the House of Representatives for 17 years.