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Welcome to the ‘Club’

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Ignacio R. Bunye

Ignacio R. Bunye

By Ignacio R. Bunye

 

In a video-taped greeting to former President Fidel V. Ramos, former Malaysian Minister Mahathir Mohamad welcomed PFVR to the “Club.”

The exclusive “Club” refers to public figures aged 90 and above. Mahathir, 92, was the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He served from 1981 to 2003.

Other greeters (but not yet members of the club) were PFVR political contemporaries, Bob Hawke of Australia and Singapore’s Go Chok Tong.

The occasion was the 90th birth anniversary celebration of PFVR, which he co-celebrated with former First Lady Ming Ramos at the Manila Polo Club last Thursday.

The occasion – celebrating the service and legacy of FVR – started with the usual book signing of PFVR’s latest book, followed by an AVP highlighting various stages of PFVR’s career as a soldier, public servant, statesman, husband, father, and lolo.

At 90, PFVR still maintains an active schedule regularly visiting the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation (RPDEV) office on Buendia where he continues to read, to write, and to meet his visitors. Quite a few seek his political advice and/or blessings before running for a public office.

He reads and reads and comments on articles which interest him. I am almost sure that in a few days I will receive from him a photocopy of this article with his comments written in red – either agreeing, disagreeing, or just simply thanking me.

PFVR continues to be sharp and tries to look and act physically fit. Age has slowed him down somewhat but his hand grip is tight (vice-like, describes one his former cabinet members). His affectionate pat on the back sometimes feels like a controlled karate chop.

He started his message on the floor but almost immediately mounted a table from where he finished his speech.

I was expecting him to do his signature “Edsa jump” but he did another number, instead, mimicking a paratrooper doing a low-altitude jump, shouting “arc thousand…two thousand …. three thousand.”

Aside from books, which he churns out, he also distributes to well-wishers pocket-sized pamphlets which contain a litany of his favorite sayings – which also say a lot about PFVR’s philosophy, wit, and humor.

The handouts contain such titles as: Great Truths About Getting Old, What is Success, Great Truths That Adults Have Learned, 10 Things in Golf That Sound Dirty, The Four Stages of Life, A Prayer for the Stressed. Also included are off-color sections entitled: How Old Are You? And Counting Calories.

The collection of witticisms is attributed to “sources unknown as of March, 2006.”

Here are some excerpts:

Great Truths About Growing Old – Growing up is mandatory, growing old is optional.

What is Success – At age 4, success is not peeing in your pants. At age 80, success is not peeing in your pants.

Great Truths That Adults Have Learned – Laughing is good exercise. It is like jogging on the inside.

A Prayer for the Stressed – Help me to always give 100 percent of my work. 12 percent on Monday. 23 percent on Tuesday. 40 percent on Wednesday. 20 percent on Thursday. 5 percent on Friday.

That’s PFVR. 90 and still counting. A statesman par excellence. For me, still the No. 1 Most Admired Adopted Son of Muntinlupa.

Expanded Passport on Wheels

Because of the sheer number of applicants, applying for a passport or getting one renewed can be a challenge. There is the usual waiting time after applying online, and, as expected, the long queues at the DFA main consular office.

To alleviate the situation, the DFA has opened six mall-based satellite consular offices in Metro Manila and even initiated the Passport on Wheels (POW) program.

Starting January, 2018, on instructions of Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, DFA has embarked on an expanded POW program both in terms of duration and coverage. Previously done during weekends only, the Passport on Wheels are now operational weeklong.

POWs are now deployed in coordination with 1. local government units, 2. other government offices, 3. private companies, 4. organizers of travel fairs and job fairs. Previous coordination was limited to LGUs.

Since the expanded operations commenced on January 15, 2018, DFA has served 37,965 from 36 cities and municipalities.

As I wrote this piece, I learned that offsite passport processing was on-going in Davao City.

I learned about the expanded Passport on Wheels program only recently. My passport and that of my wife expired on February 19, 2018. Long before expiry date, I applied for renewal of our passports. I promptly got an email reply from DFA setting a date for personal appearance at the DFA Consular office.

There was only one problem. I told DFA that my wife was bedridden and it would take a great effort on her part to make the trip to DFA. DFA asked me to email a doctor’s certificate which would justify my wife’s non-appearance.

To cut a long story short, my wife was included among a list of off-site applicants. Before long, DFA reps were knocking at our door to digitally capture my wife’s photo, fingerprints, and personal data. They said they were in the area as part of an on-going Passport on Wheels operation.

Passport renewed on the spot and for ten years. That’s what I would call public service.

 

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