Dear Fellow Correspondents, Midwives and Friends,

Hi! How's everyone? Life seems to be very busy but I really tried to catch up early this time. I'm so sorry for not giving you my feedback, i just don't know how but rest assured that i really admire all the efforts and the beauty of each aricles. Is just that , i feel incapable of feedbacking. I hope after this second draft, i can have even a small time to give you my words. Thank you so much and best wished to everybody! Keep up the high spirit!

love, malaya

My heart seems to stop when I heard the news about the controversial lavish dinners of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her entourage in her recent US state visit. In both expensive restaurant of New York City’s Le Cirque Restaurant and Washington DC’s Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, the group paid $20,000 and $15,000 respectively. This is sheer display of callousness amid the hunger and poverty of the Filipino people and the 400,000 Americans who lost their jobs in 2008 due to economic recession.

In today’s economic meltdown, developing countries like the Philippines is worse hit. Everyday more than thousands of Filipinos mostly women are out of jobs. Factories and small enterprises are closing down. According to international survey, the Philippines ranked fifth among the hungry countries in the world. Four million Filipino children are malnourished and 52 million out of 92 million Filipinos are hungry everyday. Despite job retrenchment abroad more Filipino women are still going overseas for jobs.

Yet, this woman, Philippine President Arroyo who always goes overseas dined lavishly as if there is no recession and poverty. She can afford to eat million worth dinner from people’s money with no remorse. This controversial dinner sparked outrage among Filipinos both domestic and abroad. In defense of President Arroyo, the Palace spokeperson said that the amount is small compare to the billion of dollars the country benefited from the president’s travel abroad. Among those cited were the $6.2 billion in investments and other forms of financial assistance, as well as US military assistance and aid for Mindanao.

What an arrogance and desperate move to justify such act of indecency! Reality shows that the benefits out from the President’s foreign trips are hardly felt by the Filipino people. Those who are in power benefited much as showed by their ostentation lifestyles. German-based Transparency International in its annual CPU index which measures a country from 0-10 with 0 rating equivalent to absolute corruption, the Philippines garnered a 2.5 rating for 2007, making it one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Just recently, a woman Philippine Navy Junior Officer Lieutenant Senior Grade Nancy Gadian revealed a multi-million corruption in the Joint Philippine –US Military War Exercises in 2007.

Mrs. Arroyo’s trip to the US cost the taxpayers a total of P 37 million. Yet, the people did not gain anything. Arroyo’s US state visit definitely further government’s bankruptcy and subservience to US loans and aids. The 45 minute talk between US President Obama and Philippine President Gloria Macapagal –Arroyo highlighted Arroyo’s appointment as the regional coordinator of the US War on Terror in ASEAN countries. Obama praised Arroyo’s accomplishment in her counter-terror effort including her statement on Burma human rights abuses. There was no mention of American soldiers continued presence in the country and their direct participation in combat operations. There was no mention of continued human rights violations and abuses in the Philippines committed by Arroyo’s government. Definitely, President Arroyo’s lavish dinner was a celebration of renewed ties of unequal foreign relations between the post colonial slave and post colonial master.

The Filipino women's movement together with other movements both here and abroad must therefore heed the strong challenge for social change against corruption, arrogance display of power, extravagance and puppetry in time of hunger and poverty. As we Filipinos commemorated in August 21, the 26th assassination anniversary of Former Senator “Ninoy “Aquino from the Marcos dictatorship, we must live Ninoy’s legacy of continuing the fight against tyranny, dictatorship and colonialism. We have to demand accountability of government’s abuse of power and corrupt practices. We must not forget the darkest years of our history and the men and women martyrs who sacrificed their lives for us and for our freedom. Let our hearts continue beating in unison with fire of love and freedom.

Comment on this Post


Overall, your op-ed is strong. Bringing attention to President's Arroyo's lavish dinners conveyed to me that she and her government are disconnected and insensitive to the Philippine people's daily struggle for food security. I have a few suggestions, but I know you are working with your midwives, too, so take them with a grain of salt.

  • I would stress that her dinners were paid for with taxpayer's dollars if that is the case. The term, "people's money" didn't resonate with me. -My husband works for Oregon's state-wide foodbank and they often us the term "food insecurity" to describe hunger. There was one sentence where I thought that might be a better choice of words... but maybe hunger has more punch? -I like that you mention Senator Aquino. I would like one or two concrete examplea of how one demands accountability in the Philippines. How could one challenge corruption?

My heart beats with fire of love and freedom with you and all Philippines.

Love, Jennifer

Jennifer Ruwart Chief Collaborator JR Collaborations

Dear Jenni,

Hi! Happy to hear from you again. I hope you had have a very wonderful vacation. Thanks for the great suggestion. I'm still waiting for the comments of my midwives and I'll be so happy hearing from them. I will try to incorporate your suggestion and hopefully i could submit my op ed article before the deadline.

Yap hunger i think has more punch compared to food insecurity. Though, i'll try to use the term food insecurity in any of the sentences here.

Thank you again!

love, malaya

Hey Malayapinas, I remember you not being sure if a dinner over $15,000 would seem as outrageous to an American audience as it is to those in the Philippines. I just wanted to let you know that this does in fact seem extreme to me too. I can't imagine how any group of people, even as many as 50 persons could manage to spend that much on a group dinner. I may not run in the type of circles that would eat and drink at expensive restaurants but even with that in mind, I can't help feeling there must have been a great deal of unnecessary extravagance with this meal. It is entirely the wrong message to give to the people of the Phillipines. Every now and then we hear of stories of unnecessary extravagance here in the United States too, as all of us "ordinary" folks struggle on the bare bones during this economic global recession. As Jennifer said, this Op Ed is very strong. Your voice rings loud and clear. Well Done! All the best Tina

Hi Tina! Thank you once more for your enlightening information and your affirmation about my op ed article. My story is just a typical example of how top government officials especialy the President's circle live their lives. They dine and wine like Kings and Queens while every day hundreds of children are dying of hunger. They just don't care because their very motive in government work is how to become rich and famous out from sweat and blood of poor and hungry Filipino taxpayers.

Just the thought of this makes me angry and I wish soon - these people will be made accountable for their crimes to the Filipino people and the world.

keep the best of everything !

love, malaya