Covering the Vice President

The Vice President of the Philippines flew in yesterday to grace the 92nd birthday party of former Third District Cong. Herminio Teves. The birthday boy is the father of former Finance Sec. Gary Teves (who is gunning for a gubernatorial seat in the province).

At 92 years old, Cong. Meniong is still in top form, mentally and physically. I attended a presscon he called for last year to discuss about the state of agriculture in the country. From his talks, his brain is just as sharp as ever. Anyone would be lucky to reach that age and still have your wits firmly about you.

Anyway, we were told to get to the VP’s presscon venue at 8:30 to start setting up. By 9:30 a.m., reporters were already milling around the venue. As the hours ticked past, we started getting antsy. Turned out the VP decided to take a private jet at the last minute, and their take-off from Manila was delayed. I regretted leaving my laptop back at the office, as I could have killed the waiting time productively by finishing some news reports.

I arrived a little past 8:30 a.m. The presscon started nearly 11:00 a.m.

This is one of my pet peeves during coverages. Waiting for hours for a presscon to start. The organizers will always want the media to arrive at the venue early. And the media will wait for hours for a presscon that will last for only 30 minutes because they need to get the news.

And it’s also because that’s how Filipinos do it – Pinoy time.

So we killed time by swapping jokes and taking pang-FB (for Facebook) pictures.

But with my one foot on the other side of the fence as well, I know how fickle the schedule of visiting top government officials can be. I remember during the presidential visits of the previous administration; there was never a final itinerary until the day of the visit. I think they also do this for security reasons. So we always had to be on top of our toes, ready for drastic changes at the last minute.

Good thing comedienne-singer Marissa Sanchez was invited to perform at the luncheon party (which was one floor below the presscon venue). Goodness, the woman is spectacular. She danced and shimmied onstage, flirted with the birthday boy and the old guys in the audience – even smothered one with kisses while asking him if he’d be interested in a voluptuous woman like her. She belted out powerhouse songs. She chased after Cong. Meniong’s dashing, young and very married grandson (pictured with her below). I was in stitches the whole time.

I had to drag myself away from the balcony where I was watching her when the organizers started calling us back in for the presscon.

A couple of shots from the presscon:

Vice President Jejomar Binay (right) with ex-Finance Sec. Gary Teves (left).

Weirdly, the interns almost outnumbered the reporters.

Where there’s an audio speaker, the reporters are there with their recorders.

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I write to live, or live to write. Whichever it is, writing is my life.

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