You’ve come a long way, Babe!
Not a line from a song but my compliments to our man in Washington, D.C., Ambassador Babe Romualdez.
One of the first things you learn about His Excellency is that his nickname is not Babes but Babe. And if he looks and sounds like a real diplomat, charge it to his background as a communicator. He was a telegenic broadcaster on RPN Channel 9 The Leader, rising from field reporter to news presenter and then prime-time anchor. Watching him as the guest of Rotary Club Manila’s virtual meeting two days ago brought back memories of Channel 9 before it was shuttered by the Aquino I government.
Mabuhay, Babe! If survivors of the Newswatch gang in Channel 9 had followed you on their digital screens last Thursday, they’d have cheered for you.
Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, whose uncle Kokoy preceded him as Manila’s envoy to Washington in the ‘80s, gamely answered questions posed by the Rotarians, most of them his friends — Hermie Esguerra, Bobby Joseph, Susing Pineda, Jose de Venecia, Jack Rodriguez. As a born charmer trained to hold an audience, the envoy was a natural who spoke his humanity, not so much a diplomat as a fellow traveler touched by the hardships encountered by fellow Filipinos in a strange country during a strange time.
Babe it was who sought the help of fellow-Rotarian Art Lopez to provide hotel rooms in the NCR for 50,000 stranded OFWs. On the plight of 80,000 PH seafarers begging to be repatriated, he said, “That has changed me,” a “priceless” gift to have helped those “whose sacrifices are responsible for our high (foreign currency) reserves.”
The PH embassy will keep an eye on a bill pending in the US Congress to suspend aid to Manila over alleged human right violations. Just as sticky: 350,000 Filipinos facing deportation. His advice? “Go home before you’re deported, otherwise you’ll never again be allowed to enter the US.”
Rotarian Frank Evaristo asked how soon US-made COVID-19 vaccines will be available and was assured that Ricky Razon has been tapped to provide freezer container vans to store millions of doses.
The ambassador’s parting shot: “We’re in a good place . . . perfectly situated.”
Way to go, Babe!