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PIA Press Release

PGMA visits toy factory, hotel and convention center at Clark

by Eloisa P. Galang

San Fernando, Pampanga (18 October) -- Even for a head of state, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo stands out as particularly busy and hardworking.

A typical work day for her involves a series of meetings, project inspections, inaugurals, consultations, efficiently flowing into one another. But what makes her recent visit to the Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ) is the fact that she proceeded with her commitments despite the fury of Typhoon Milenyo – said to be the most damaging one to hit Metro Manila and some parts of Luzon in more than a decade.

First stop – Hansa Toy International

From Lubao where she attended an early morning mass commemorating the birthday of her late father, former President Diosdado Macapagal, she walked into the Hansa International Toy Factory at 10:30 am.

She did so amid the warm welcome of Hansa officials and its workers, the President’s cabalens. The scene was in total contrast to when representatives of agencies arranging the President’s visit came to inspect the factory – workers went about their work, detached and not allowing anyone else who came in to distract them from maintaining their desired productivity.

But from the time the President walked in, the workers hailed their most important cabalen, which must have warmed her heart that she broke through strict security cordon. She shook hands, allowed some luckier ones to plant kisses on her cheek and gamely posing for picture taking with them. All throughout the interaction, she admired the world class quality of their work, told them to keep doing a good job, to show employers that the Filipino worker is likewise among the best in the world!

Hans J. Astheim, founder and current president of Hansa, said that “Filipinos are very creative and hard working”.

Astheim emphasized that Hansa used to produce toy animals that were made of 20% local materials and 80% imported ones; but now, he said, they use materials that are 40% local and 60% imported. Already 18 months in operation, Hansa is recognized as the leader in toy manufacturing worldwide, exporting to 21 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, France and Australia.

The President was elated to hear Astheim’s admiration of Filipino artistry saying it should be further tapped, so that the 300 Filipinos in Hansa’s present employ may increase to 1000 plus in its expansion in the near future.

The President was with her daughter-in-law Angela, wife of Pampanga’s second district Rep. Mikey Arroyo, and her two granddaughters, Gloria Mikaela and Monique. The young ones enjoyed touring the two Hansa showrooms of animated toy animals – riding up on the life-sized elephant, having their picture taken with the giraffe. The President, even while on official duty, was also a dotting grandmother, pointing out items of interest and casting an affectionate eye on her apos.

Second and third stops – Raffles Hotel and Fontana Convention Center

The President and her party spent a whole hour at Hansa but breezed through her activities at the Raffles Hotel and the new convention center of Fontana.

She inaugurated Raffles Hotel, a five-star pink structure that is not hard to miss along M. Roxas St., corner Ninoy Aquino Ave., in Clark. The hotel has 250 well-appointed rooms including 16 suites.

While there, she walked a few steps into a Chinese restaurant within the hotel and witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement between the Clark International Airport Corporation (CIAC) and representatives of the Tiger Airways and Cebu Pacific Air which will have the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) as a regular flight destination.

From Raffles, she proceeded to nearby Fontana Leisure Parks to formally open its modernized convention center, with its eight new conference rooms and state of the art audio-visual equipment and an all-new professional demeanor and staff.

The President expressed pride in the growing list of modern facilities such as this, making it better prepared to accommodate the needs of future developments in the Urban Beltway and other super regions.

Milenyo’s fury

From Fontana, the President and her party motored back to Manila for a scheduled afternoon meeting at the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Midway in her travel on the North Luzon Expressway (NLE), Milenyo’s winds and rains were then at their peak and it was not advisable to meet the typhoon’s fury head on. Thus, they headed back to Clark where the President called for an emergency meeting of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC) and held a tele-conference with the NDCC officials at Camp Aguinaldo, instructing them on immediate rescue and rehabilitation efforts to be done.

As government employees involved in the preparations for every visit the President makes in the region, we have become familiar with the tasks and other nuances relative to people, actions and reactions, and we have learned to expect the unexpected.

Even so, there are still surprises – some pleasant and gratifying, like those in this particular visit. Learning that vagaries of nature cannot stop, but instead even speed up, the grinding wheels of public service! (PIA-Pampanga) [top]

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