President Aquino Filipino
President Benigno Simeon Aquino III delivers his Arrival Speech from the successful Working Visit to the United States of America at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 Friday September 23, 2011. In the US, President Arroyo attended the formal launching of the Open Government Partnership, Business Roundtable hosted by the US-ASEAN Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce and Philippine-American Chamber of Commerce, The Power of Open: Global Discussion, the Asia Society in New York City and the IBM Centennial Forum, the Public Lecture at the 2011 Annual Meetings of the World Bank (WB) Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Meeting with Filipino Community of Washington D.C., Virginia and Maryland in Washington D.C. (Photo by: Ryan Lim / Malacañang Photo Bureau).

Following is the last part of the personal account by Michigan businesswoman Nina McCaulley of her experiences when she joined a Filipino-American trade mission to the Philippines in the third week of October this year.

Day 6 (Oct. 22, 2014)

In our visit to Tarlac, we learned a lot about the life of martyred Ninoy Aquino. It was very sad. It was the first time I’ve seen and heard this story closely. I can’t imagine how this can be true. My heart ached while I was listening to the experience of a young woman at that moment. I can only imagine how she felt at that time, keeping it secret for 30 years. Even until now she still feels like a prisoner of the nightmares that she experienced as a young woman. I was very disturbed. A Filipino with an evil spirit can do such an evil crime (assassination of Ninoy) is very disturbing.

Nina McAulley HeadShot
Nina McAulley

The products of Tarlac are another thing to be proud of. These are excellent products although I lost the cool hat I bought there. I think I lost it at the airport when I flew back to the US.

We also visited Bataan. I just couldn’t stop crying while watching our native kids singing for me. It seemed like they were ghosts or silhouettes. I was so touched that the kids reminded me of how are we going to shape our youth and how are we going to make it right for the generations to come.

I know this is a long process, and I just pray. It might not happen in our lifetime, but I pray that it will continue from the ones who have been working on it and from us and that we will be able to pass the baton. I will start the process by adopting them. I will ask our organizations in Michigan and will start a foundation of some kind to attend to their educational needs. Doctor Mai promised to help me in this project.

We didn’t have much time to see Bataan products and do networking because we ran out of time. But the reports about Bataan were very nice. I’m so happy about the progress Bataan has made. We need to have an extra day just for Bataan to really enjoy the products and the hospitality of the people.

The dinner that the ACUZAR place offered was awesome! We went to see one of the houses, and again it’s like going back in time. My parents and grandparents were Spanish, but they were not rich like these people.

But it was so nice to see how the houses were built, the craftsmanship, etc. You can tell the Filipino workmanship. I can almost feel how everything was done, so delicate and intricate. How things were built in the olden days. These were built with a purpose, so detailed. I can almost feel the warmth and even smiles while they are working or painting. Remember how they sing during the planting season? It seemed like the people in the olden days were even happier than we are. Maybe they were more relaxed.

Day 7th (Oct. 23)

I really enjoyed this part of the trade show. This was memorable to me. I was so glad I woke up early and sit down to listen to the speakers at the conference. They presented how the Philippines is today. It summed up of what we observed at the places we went to before the presentation.

And I have a chance to ask a question about what has been bothering me every time we come to the Philippines for a medical mission. I really hope that the Custom processing of bringing out our medical supplies will be as short as what I have heard — less than 4 hours. Really? We will find out next year if this is true. I am so impressed of how the PCCI (Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry) officers conduct their business. There is so much our Philippines has to offer. But it seemed so odd that our government is not as computerized and synced as the private sector’s.

It seemed so odd to hear reports that Custom got less computers, and so are the rest of government offices. I feel sad about that part of the report. We had the best Filipino computer system knowhow before, yet the Indians have surpassed us now. I remember there were Indians who came to the Philippines way back in my previous trips to the country. I was wondering what were the Indians doing then, perhaps learning things about computers. They have learned it probably in our Philippines, took that knowledge back to India and master it.

Overall, the presentation is a promise, dream to look forward to very exciting things about the Philippines. It seemed like the younger officials/ businessmen have something to offer to us. They seemed to be more heart giving. I can feel that they talk from their heart and that all of the presenters have a common goal, the progress of all Filipinos.

The Gala Night was really fun. I did a lot of dancing. But no Argentine tango though.

Day 8 (Oct. 24)

I love our President of the Philippines, but the President himself is just like any other Filipinos I know. I and my seatmate noticed (we were shaking our heads and laughing about it) that most of the time, the President was not really listening to the presenters. I was ashamed about that because that was not a good example. Also, this was an international conference, and we had delegates from different countries who were also watching our President not listening to the speakers. I felt ashamed about that. Sorry, I was just being truthful about it.

I noticed one of the President’s security aides was coming my way. Was it because I was video-taping and aiming my cellphone camera at the President? I noticed this guy was coming my way, and then he looked at the other side. I was thinking maybe another aide was watching me and signaled this one guy that I was okay, and that my cellphone, my new Apple 6 plus, is not a gun.

Overall, the trip was awesome, very educational. I’m so thrilled about Philippines’ progress and can’t wait till we shine again positively in the whole wide world. I think all Filipinos should have a chance to experience what we had experienced in the trip.

There is no place like home, and home is our Philippines. Mabuhay ang Pilipinas nating mahal.