SELFIE: Vice President Leni Robredo and singer Kirby Asunto at the NaFFAA Empowerment Conference last weekend.

THE popular Vice President of the Philippines, Leni Robredo, arrived in the U.S. quietly.

After 48 hours, she left to return home, again, quietly.

For an official who was voted on by over 14 million Filipinos, both inside and outside the country, including those in North America, it was most unfortunate that she was met and seen only by less than 300 Filipino-Americans who invited her and who attended the NaFFAA Empowerment Conference in a small hotel in a far-flung corner of Pennsylvania.

We feel she deserved and could have been welcomed enthusiastically, at least, by 5,000 Filipinos, or more, like what Pinoys in the Northeast did in 1986 for then President Cory Aquino at Fordham University.

The problems we observed were the following:

•The handling and organizing of the visit was considered private by the sponsoring organization even if the guest was a public persona;

•The established protocol in cases like this visit by a Filipino government official was seemingly ignored (or the organizers were unaware). The Philippine Consulate in New York, which should have been consulted from the planning stage of the visit, was evidently ignored in the initial stages.

•Two weeks before the visit, we tried to inquire from the Consulate about schedules because the Filipino Reporter wanted to sit down with the VP for an interview in view of the big and significant events, like China issue and extrajudicial killings that has been published by the Filipino-American and mainstream media in New York and in Washington D.C., as well as in Europe. We were told the Consulate had no knowledge.

•We called the Philippine Embassy in D.C. They didn’t know anything either.

•We observed that the Philippine Consulate in New York had to virtually grab from the sponsoring organization the handling of press conference with the Filipino-American journalists from New York and New Jersey in order to be involved.

•Come Conference day, an unfortunate incident happened to a group of Filipino journalists who travelled to Pennsylvania to cover the Vice President. They were barred from entering the hall where the Vice President was going to deliver her address and have photo ops.

Worse, the fine and seasoned lady Pinay journalists, like Cristina DC Pastor, were branded “security threats” and were virtually pushed away by the hotel security guards, apparently, at the instigation of one overzealous member of the sponsoring association.

We are writing this editorial in order to prevent repetition of similar unpleasant incidents in the future.

We really feel that Vice President Leni Robredo deserved more, much more, than what she got in terms of reception by Filipinos in the East Coast.

Sayang! Some people blew the rare opportunity.

(Editorial note: A written apology from NaFFAA’s new National Chair was received by the aggrieved Fil-Am journalists on Aug. 9. However, it is the consensus among the journalists that the person who yelled and acted rudely should come out, identify himself and be the one to apologize.)

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