Despite what the spin doctors at the recently renamed Presidential Communications Office claim, the visit last week of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr to Beijing was not the big success they claim it to be.
While I do not want to call it a failure just yet, it seems to follow a pattern that has been set by the previous visits of the president to foreign countries.
The former Office of the Press Secretary will say that millions of dollars in investments were pledged as a result. The office may even say that the investments will come in to specific industries, such as agriculture, infrastructure, or manufacturing.
Mere weeks later, all will be forgotten. Few, if any, of the promised investments will come in, and the next presidential visit to another country will be announced.
Either this month or next month, the president will be flying off to Japan, then to Switzerland. He will, of course, bring his favorite traveling companions, namely his wife, his cousin the Speaker, and his favorite son, the dragonfruit lover.
For the record, he has been traveling at the rate of more than one country per month since he assumed the presidency, and shows no let up in planned travels. Notice that I did not use the word junket.
But back to Marcos’s recent trip to China.
One of his announced “accomplishments” was to assure a supply of fertilizer from two Chinese companies.
So he simply placed an order for fertilizer, and two companies agreed to supply the stuff, which the Philippines does seem to have a sufficient supply of. I mean, the best fertilizer is bat guano, right? That’s also known as droppings. And the less polite word is four letters starting in S and H and ending in I and T.
All one has to do is head for the nearest cave where bats are known to stay, and collect what they drop on the floor. Best of all, it’s free.
So there were no investments from the two Chinese fertilizer companies. All there was, was a deal to sell on their part and to buy on our part, courtesy of the traveling chief executive.
Guess what? All companies exist to sell their products or services to anyone who wishes to buy. It’s how they exist or survive.
Heck, I could have gone to China, looked for fertilizer companies in the yellow pages – that’s symbolic, ok? I don’t even know if there are still phone books with yellow pages. Or maybe I could have gone online and searched Google for the desired company that sells bat guano.
With my luck, I might have ended up buying a mixture of bat droppings mixed with human feces, but as long as it does its desired job of fertilizing the good earth of my little farm, than all is well, huh?
So I could have done what the president allegedly accomplished in his Beijing sojourn, which was, to repeat, buy bat sh!t.
Does this mean that I could make a good president?
Don’t answer that. I am being flippant. But at least I am not including some silly Batman joke here.
Now if having the ability to purchase fertilizer was one of the president’s biggest accomplishments in his trip to the People’s Republic of China, then his other major achievement was even better. Or worse. It all depends on one’s perception.
But again the spin doctors of the Palace who give public relations a bad name tried but failed to draw praise from working media stiffs like myself, because to be blunt about it, I as a Filipino felt very insulted.
There had been expectations that the trip to meet President Xi would necessarily include serious talks on the West Philippine Sea, which China says is part of their South China Sea.
We all know that the contested waters should no longer be contested anymore after a UN-backed tribunal ruled that the West Philippine Sea is Philippine territory. All of it. Not one drop of sea water there belongs to China. Not a single fish there, no matter how small, is Chinese property.
What Malacanang announced over the weekend must take the cake, be it fish cake or crab cake.
The presidential palace said that the country’s president had managed to convince Xi to allow Filipino fishermen to fish in Philippine waters.
Should I repeat that?
I shall not, just read it again, ladies and gentlemen.
The president had managed to squeeze some magnanimity out of Xi, who most kindly allowed our fishermen to fish in the West Philippine Sea, as long as they don’t disturb the Chinese fishing vessels grabbing the lion’s share of the sea food in the rich waters.
Please do not get me wrong. I may not be too crazy about Mr. Marcos, but I certainly do not want his presidency to fail. As long as he is trying to do a relatively good job, then I say let him.
Besides, I have a number of relatives who have interacted with him, and they’ve just about convinced me that he is a nice guy at heart. So I will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt.
But damn, there is one thing regarding his China trip that I hope he really has accomplished, and that would be his failure – yes, failure – to bring home the latest strain of COVID-19.
I am among those who feel that Mr. Marcos and his contingent should have moved that junket, I mean trip, to a much later date.
It’s in the news, folks. China is now in the middle of what I have to call a super surge of the coronavirus. Millions of Chinese citizens have already been infected, and as many as a million of them are projected to die because of the spread of the dreaded disease.
By now, we also know that the coronavirus is an airborne disease. It’s in the air, and it’s everywhere.
If just one member of the contingent caught it, then it would have started to spread when they were inside the airplane that took them home.
Heading to China when it was in the middle of a massive surge was a mistake. He could have done it later this year, or five years from now. Heck, his irritating son who is being groomed to succeed him may go to China 20 years from now, and Xi will most likely still be president.
So if, and only, if he did not bring the virus back with him, then I must congratulate Marcos, aka Junior. Not doing something that endangers the country could well be what makes him the best president yet.
And yes, boys and girls, that’s known as sarcasm.
Happy Year of the Water Rabbit, folks!