The title of this essay, “Eats meets waste,” is a play on “east meets west.” Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the Business Mirror’s August 19, 2009 edition, page A6.

I ask our people to spend on the basics first before the luxuries so our children will have enough to eat.  – Gloria Arroyo

Dr. Anthony Golez
Deputy presidential spokesperson

Dear Dr. Golez,

Allow me to congratulate you for placing your president’s behavior in the proper context and for putting her critics in their place. You said it so beautifully I must quote your statement in full.

“The issue at hand cannot be the sincerity of this President’s commitment to uplifting our poor. Whatever monies may have been spent for the appropriately ceremonious conduct of her official trip abroad are but a tiny fraction of the billions of pesos she has committed, and will continue to commit, to the alleviation of hunger and the amelioration of poverty in our country.

“In their frenzy to score media points at the President’s expense, these critics will go so far as to demean and debase the office of the Presidency itself, not just its current occupant.

“They would now have us believe that the leader of our nation is somehow not good enough to be hosted in the best hotels, or chauffeured around town, whenever he or she travels abroad as the representative of one of the fifteen largest countries in the world.”

You’re absolutely correct; the issue is not about Mrs. Arroyo’s commitment to fighting poverty.  It’s about what she’s entitled to as the head of a regime whose survival depends on exported labor and the largesse of rich countries.

Mrs. Arroyo must travel in chartered planes, ride in limousines, stay at the best hotels, and wine and dine at the finest restaurants because we don’t want anybody to think she’s not good enough.

She must always travel with a large entourage because we don’t want anybody to forget that the Philippines is one of the 15 most populous countries in the world.

Dr. Golez, your statement came at the right time. The trash talk about those dinners has gone out of control. Mrs. Arroyo’s critics connected those million-peso meals not only to hunger and poverty but also to the lack of proper equipment for the soldiers fighting bandits in Mindanao.

The latter connection is absurd. Everybody knows that passing on those dinners won’t help our soldiers. Filet mignon does not make good leather for combat boots and lobsters shells can’t be used as body armor.

That said, I would like your take on the comportment of Rep. Danilo Suarez, the host of the $15K dinner at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse in Washington, DC. The Washington Post thought he was a woman.

“…at the conclusion of the meal, an unidentified woman opened a handbag stuffed with cash, counted out bills and paid the $15,000 tab.”

Do you think it was proper for Rep. Danilo Suarez to dress in drag while he was still in Washington, DC? Shouldn’t he have waited until he got to the Bay Area in California before morphing into Danielle? Do you think he will clobber me with his purse if continue asking questions?

Before I go, I hope you won’t mind some unsolicited advice.

Your statement, as beautiful as it is, was a bit too long for TV sound bites. Keep it short and sweet.  Instead of that long-winded declaration, you could have simply said, “Mrs. Arroyo believes that the Filipino is worth dining for.“ Trust me, it conveys the same message.

Hugs and kisses,