scenes from a coverage

this week, the philippines hosted two mega international events -- the asean finance ministers' investor seminar held for  a day at the manila pen and capped by a night of fun at fairmont hotel, then the three-day world economic forum at the shangri-la hotel and other venues at the country's wall street of sorts.

the country hosted both events at a time when the philippine economy is experiencing a boom ( last year, philippine gdp growth was the fastest in the asean, and the second best in asia), its credit ratings upgraded into investment status by the three major debt raters last year (with standard & poor's even raising it further to one notch above the lowest investment grade level most recently).

at the same time, there's undoubtedly the rising tension with china over the disputed south china sea, and the political squabbles in neighboring thailand, one of the founders of the asean sub-regional group some forty-seven years ago. another asean member, vietnam, is also having a tiff with china about a group of islands that both countries are claiming to be part of their territories.

internally, the philippines is also undergoing a political turmoil with the ongoing expose about the corruption in government, specifically about the misuse of billions of pesos of funds intended for infrastructure, social and other projects. these funds allegedly went to fatten the pockets of lawmakers (both houses of congress), some media personalities, even a number of priests, a few high-ranking military men, and god knows who else.

the corruption scandal, if unresolved, may result in a political chaos, with some sectors already impatient with the slow process of putting those who pocketed the money behind bars. in turn, it could erase all the economic gains that the country has achieved in the last few years. it could also herald the return to junk status in the country's credit rating.

in short, all of these can be summed up by the opening paragraph in charles dickens' classique a tale of two cities:

"it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

so apt, right?!


to say that these are exciting times for the philippines, the asean, and the rest of the asia-pacific region is an understatement.

for indeed, this is one of the best times to be a political and financial journalist, with the philippines again hogging the spotlight in the global stage after languishing and being relegated to the backwater for so long. this is a revival of sorts, something that we last witnessed during the time of president corazon aquino and her successor, former defense secretary fidel v. ramos or popularly known as fvr.

for the record, i was born into the world of business journalism during the fvr presidency, the time when almost every month the philippines was hosting all these international fora and conferences -- asean, apec, adb, etc, etc. it was also the time when the government was in the midst of restructuring the economy to end the cycles of boom and bust and lure foreign investors into the country. these initiatives included privatizing state-owned firms such as petron through an initial public offering or ipo that led to the ipo boom, deregulating the oil industry by removing subsidies and letting "market forces" dictate the prices of oil, opening up some sectors of the economy that were previously closed to foreign investors particularly the banking industry, lowering of tariff rates and the removal of non-tariff barriers.

these key events made my baptism into the ring of fire more exciting and amazing, for lack of better words. they also hastened my evolution and transition from an ingenue who could not distinguish gnp and gdp, much less explain what an ipo is and why every investor, big or small, whom i interviewed was talking about it like it's manna from heaven, into a "veteran" in just a matter of months because i had no choice. otherwise, i might lose my job.

end of rewind. back to the present.

and so, there i was amid the hullaballoo, witnessing right before my naked eyes (chos!) how the major business stories of the day unfolded, and seeing with a bit of nostalgia the younger reporters who covered the asean finance ministers' investor seminar typed their stories away after hours of listening to speakers and their long speeches, interviewing officials, digesting everything in a very short span, and trying to summarize them into few paragraphs and turning them into a news article.

somehow i missed the rush that one can only experience when beating deadlines with the aid of the three c's of coverage -- coffee, cigarettes and coke. lots of them!!! 

so you'll know what exactly i am talking about, here are some photos inside the media room (during our time, when most reporters were bitchier and less afraid -- ok unafraid-- to ask probing and difficult questions, some officials called it the lion's den. i could never forget how an imf team from washington used to call us central bank reporters "vultures" because we hounded and surrounded them with our notebooks, pens and sharp questions every time they stepped out of the meeting rooms) at the conservatory of the pen:

(sorry, no "selfies" here. call me jurassic, archaic, antique, old, i am simply not a fan of it.  hahaha.)


just outside of the media room, a member of the paparazzi insisted on taking my photo while i was descending the stairs towards the lobby to meet some officials.


the lobby, where most delegates and some media people like myself were hanging out during breaks in the plenary sessions.


then the cocktails slash wine boozing at the fairmont hotel to cap the tiring day,where gorgeous actor/singer markki stroem serenaded the audience with ballads, and kept us glued to his lovely face and sexy moves on and off the stage. before him, christian bautista, karylle and a host of other performers made the audience swoon.

(at some point, markki approached my table, shook my hand and asked for a photo with me. double chos!! that prompted one banker to ask me if i know him. haha.)


then after that, while i was already tipsy, mitch and i (even if i wasn't invited) drove to another bar to meet up with some editors and reporters including ms. corrie, who's based in bangkok for a few months, raul, noel, roderick, jay-anne, chopsie, and tina and her good looking son.


another markki shot to end this post on a happier note.


that's all fairies, bitches, witches, queens, pa-queens, wannabes and princesses. have a great weekend ahead!!


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