Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This piece was published in the February 11,  2009 edition of the Business Mirror, page A6.

“Keep a knockin’ but you can’t come in
Keep a knockin’ but you can’t come in
Come back tomorrow night and try it again.”
–  Little Richard, “Keep on Knocking”

Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s third attempt to meet and greet, however fleet, US President Barack Obama was not a complete waste of time and public monies. She got things done:

She slept at the Four Seasons Hotel, breakfasted at the Hilton, and prayed beside Nancy Pelosi, the first female Speaker of the US House of Representatives. She met Steve Austria, the first Fil-Am congressman.  She talked to Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, the 82nd province of the Philippines. She had a photo-op with Sen. John Kerry, the loser of the 2004 US presidential election. Most important of all, she tete-a-teted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and told her how much Filipinos love her.

I spied on the pantsuits.

“Thank you for taking time from your busy schedule,” Gloria told Hillary.

“No problemo. I always make time to meet with my sisters,” replied the mother superior of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsuits.

“Is there anything I can do for you? Do you want me to call the President and set up a meeting for you?” asked Hillary.

“Well, I really came to Washington to pray and to invite you to visit my country,” explained Gloria.

“Oh? I was under the impression you wanted to meet the President,” replied Hillary.

“That would have been nice. I wanted to clear up a couple of things,” said Gloria who was still smarting from Obama’s message to those afflicted with clenched fists.

“He does have a lot to say,” said Hillary who lost to Obama.

“Yes, but he can learn a thing or two about governance from me. First of all, I am ahead of him and probably, I would think that if there’s anything to be learned, it should be him learning from me,” said Gloria.

Deputy spokesman Lorelei Fajardo broke protocol and addressed Hillary.

“President Arroyo had the humility to learn from an honest and hardworking street sweeper, your president should be happy to learn from a humble balut vendor,” she said.

“You brought balut for Barack?” Hillary asked.

There was a moment of uncomfortable silence.

Hillary broke the ice, “Madame President, you traveled from Davos to Italy to Saudi Arabia to Bahrain before coming here… I’ll be doing a lot of traveling soon… would you share with me how…”

“How the Philippines continues to be an island of calm amid the global crisis?” asked Gloria.

“No, I meant tell me how you keep your pantsuits pressed.”

“By the way, is your husband Jose with you?” continued Hillary.

“Long trips are bad for his health. And his name is Mike not Jose,” said Gloria.

“Sorry about that. I must tell the FBI to stop calling him Jose. Anyway, some people here want to talk to him.”

“So many people want to talk to my husband.”

“Yes, I read reports he was invited by your Senate to share his expertise on bidding for public works.”

“He wants to accommodate everybody but he recently had a heart bypass and stress might endanger his…” Gloria explained.

“His lifestyle? Well, my husband had a quadruple and it hasn’t slowed him down at all. Tell Mike to come here for a rest,” Hillary said.

“Did you say arrest?”

“Yes, I said a rest. We’ll take care of his rehabilitation.”

Gloria gaped; she was about to say something when Hillary’s protocol officer pointed to his watch.

Hillary rose from her seat and said, “Thank you for visiting.”

“Thank you, Madame Secretary. And may I reiterate my invitation to visit my country,” said Gloria.

Hillary extended her hand for the obligatory handshake but she remembered Gloria had clenched fists syndrome so she clenched hers too and the two ladies fist bumped instead.

Malacañang announced Hillary will visit the Philippines, as soon as she irons out her schedule… and her pantsuits.