What a great dinner it must have been! Only the best, you know.
What? You think I’m talking about some dinner that Feyma and I had at a local restaurant or something? Nope! I’m talking about Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s dinner that she had while in New York recently.
President Arroyo went to the USA recently to meet with President Obama and some other official business. In addition to Obama, she met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and probably with some Congressmen and Senators, although I’m not sure on those. After completing her business in Washington, DC, she and her official traveling party moved on to New York City.
While in New York City, President Arroyo caught the attention of the New York Post, and ended up on their famous (or is in infamous?) Page 6, where they print all the latest gossip. What did President Arroyo do to get this (probably unwanted) attention? She went out to dinner at La Cirque Restaurant in the City. My understanding is that there were a total of around 25 or so members of her party dining that evening. The total bill for dinner for 25 people came to… get this… around $20,000. Yes, that is US Dollars, not Pesos. That’s is nearly P1,000,000. So, let’s see, that is almost $1,000 per person for dinner.
Now, let’s face it, people with that kind of money and power eat differently from you and I do. They don’t go down to McDonald’s to get a Quarter Pounder, or go for a Whopper at Burger King. Heck, they don’t even go to places like Bryan’s Grill, the place that I love so much here in Davao. Feyma and I can eat a gourmet meal at Bryan’s for P1,200 or so. That’s like $25 for the two of us. No, people with big money and power don’t eat that way. But, come on… $1,000 per head? Isn’t that a bit much?
Now, as a guest in the Philippines, I don’t get into Politics. I don’t argue over policy or elections or that kind of thing. But, let’s just look at this for what it is… a meal – dinner for the President.
How many people in the Philippines are starving? I don’t just mean that they are a bit hungry after dinner, I literally mean starving, because they lack enough food to sustain themselves. How many kids go to school with no breakfast? Do you remember some months ago when I wrote about kids at school eating rice and soy sauce as their lunch? I wonder how much that meal cost them? Probably less than $1,000 per head, don’t you think?
Well, as of now, it is not known who paid for that meal. Maybe it was paid with public funds. Maybe President Arroyo paid out of her own pocket. I can’t be sure, nor does the media seem to know. As far as I know, there was no wealthy benefactor there treating the President and her entourage to dinner on the town.
What do you think about this? Personally, I feel that with such a large number of Filipinos going hungry, or only being able to afford meager amounts of food, and of questionable nutritional value, spending P1M for dinner is pretty insensitive of the President. There are so many things that the money could have been better spent on.
Doesn’t it seem that the President would be embarrassed over something like this? To date, though, I have heard of no explanation from President Arroyo, or from her staff.