I marveled at the classic american decor as i walked into the halls of the Ambassador’s Residence in Baguio City, i am here along with two renowned media personalities, Harley Palangchao and Sir Ramon Dacawi, to participate in a round-table discussion with his excellency, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, Philip Goldberg. As we walked into the building we were told that the venue was moved from the library to the garden area of the Ambassador’s residence, there we found the Ambassador waiting with his team, i was kinda embarrassed as although i made 1:45pm i can still consider it late. He welcomed us and shook our hands, from that moment i realized that this is not going to be a very formal interview but rather a casual discussion, i felt that because he was warm and welcoming and i made me feel right at home. As we sat on the chair made comfy by the soft cushions, he gave a short welcome and asked if we have questions, surprisingly the first question or at least the first question that i remembered that was asked was if he had any visitors last night, which means if he was visited by the ghost of Yamashita since this the residence is an old building. We all gave a laugh and he said no, the ghost wouldn’t dare haunt him. He was also asked about his origin to which he replied that he is of Jewish descent. I know that this is my time to ask him lots of questions but listening to him was more than enough as it was really an enlightening experience to learn how the US is supporting the Philippines in terms of the following:
Carbon Emission Reduction – this is a worldwide initiative of the US, to avert the causes of climate change through carbon emission reduction. After the devastation caused by typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines, the US have been hard at work to help promote initiatives or programs pertaining to saving the environment and the world from the catastrophic effects of climate change.
Transfer to The Library
The rain started to pour during the round-table discussion, unfortunately we could not hear the discussion very well because of the heavy downpour, so the Ambassador suggested that we move inside to the library, as we entered to the library i found myself staring at the decor and the ambiance felt like a scene in a classic movie. The library lighting was a little less than sufficient and i understood why we began the interview at the garden area in the first place. As we all moved inside we took our seat at the comfortable sofa and resumed the discussion.
The COMET Cometh – After several questions and discussions between the Ambassador and Mr. Ramon Dacawi i wanted to go back to the issue of the projects of the United States relevant to averting climate change, i asked a question regarding any effort to integrate technology and innovation in order to help reduce carbon emission in the Philippines, this is because in my recent trip to San Francisco and San Diego i saw several SMART cars that runs on electricity and also the Tesla Cars which is a sporty version of an electric car, and i was wondering if there are any move to promote such technology in the Philippines. The Ambassador gladly answered and told us about the COMET “bus” or popularly known as an E-Jeep which was designed by an American Company, where, during its launch in the Philippines, it was no less than the President of the United States Barack Obama attend said launch. This is to show support and stand on carbon emission reduction.
After the Ambassador answered my question i immediately Googled on my phone what COMET is and was surprised that it was designed specifically for inner city transport and was designed to withstand the weather conditions in Manila. That made me wonder, if this vehicle could also be used in Baguio City, especially so that this is a mountain health resort and most of the residents here are fighting to preserve the good air quality of the city, that includes me, i even blogged about the wrong WHO report about Baguio’s air quality. However, right now residents feels that there is a need for radical change in order to save Baguio City from environmental degradation.
A Lesson In History
History is my favorite subject, however it was only when i started blogging about Baguio CIty that i appreciated what i call “niche” history. In school we were taught about the history of the Philippines and the world in general but we were never taught nor exposed to the history of our own City, sure we have bits and pieces of trivia from time to time but no elaborate discussion about Baguio City, when i started reading about Baguio City in 2008 that is when i appreciated how rich our history is, this is why walking into historical buildings gives me the feeling of excitement as i picture myself walking where people who helped shape Baguio walked on. From the discussion i could tell that the Ambassador was also fond of History, he mentioned that the building was actually the site where the Japanese general Yamashita signed his surrender after the second world war. Mr. Ramon Dacawi and Ambassador Philip Goldberg agreed that history should be seriously inculcated in the minds of the younger generation and i also believe that if only teachers could make history interesting and not a lesson in memorizing dates and events.
Before the discussion ended we were served coffee and cookies, the Ambassador answered some more questions mostly about the upcoming Manny Pacquiao fight, baseball and basketball. After that we all stood up and said goodbye, as we were walking towards the exit i asked if we could have a group photo together which i could put in my blog, and that was when i remembered i was so into listening that i forgot to take photos during the discussion, i wanted to give myself a huge facepalm but of course i had to contain myself, i am happy i got a group photo though taken at the fireplace where the painting of the surrender of Yamashita is displayed.
After a short photo session we walked towards the exit and like a great host the US Ambassador walked us towards the door which for me shows great humility, makes me want to do this round-table discussion with him again or maybe i could tweet him some questions. While waiting for our ride to take us outside of the premises the Ambassador Philip Goldberg said something…