Hundreds of Fil-Ams brave Chicago's chilly weather to meet GMA
Chicago (13 November) -- Chilly winds and showers failed to stop hundreds of Filipino-Americans in Chicago from showing up at Hyatt O'Hare Hotel to meet with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who made a stopover in Chicago before proceeding to New York.
Over 500 Fil-Ams, representing various professional organizations in Chicago, warmed the dinner reception for the President amid zero-to-negative degree weather in the US Midwest's largest city.
The President, accompanied by a lean delegation, was welcomed at the hotel by Consul-General Orontes Ramos of the Philippine Consulate in Chicago, along with the heads of leading Fil-Am community organizations in the Midwest.
There are around 32,266 Filipinos in Chicago, most of them successful professionals who have been in the US for many years. Many of them have earned recognition for their role in shaping Chicago's ethnic community.
In her speech, President Arroyo told the Fil-Am crowd that the Philippines is standing on solid economic ground amid the current global financial turbulence severely affecting the US and other countries.
"While no one can predict the full impact of the current global financial crisis on the Philippines, our economy is stronger than it has been in generations. Because tough choices were made, we have built a firewall around our country that has slowed down and somewhat softened the worst effects of the global crisis," she said.
The President also cited the government's efforts to sustain the vibrancy of the Philippine business and investment climate while advancing pro-poor agenda and revenue generating measures to prop up fiscal independence.
"You must have heard of the VAT (Value Added Tax). Its result has been, on the one hand, more unpopularity for myself, but on the other, to save the day for our country," she said.
"We are aware of the pressures your families back home face from inflation. We know they are as concerned as you are here about job security and the buying power of wages and remittances. We are concerned, too," she said, adding that "we are working hard to keep down the prices of rice, food and fuel and to increase the number of jobs through investments."
Alongside efforts to put forward pro-poor agenda, investment in education, healthcare and social services, the President also said the government is investing in modernizing infrastructure like roads and bridges on an unprecedented scale.
"The next time you go to the Philippines, you can travel by car from Appari to Sulu through our roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry nautical highway system," she said. (PIA-MMIO) [top]