Senator Rubio’s ruby tour
SPYBITS (The Philippine Star) - January 23, 2014 - 12:00am

US Ambassador Philip Goldberg’s first VIP visitor after US State Secretary John Kerry (who was here last December) is popular Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who dropped by yesterday to visit the typhoon devastated areas and check out the ongoing rehabilitation efforts before flying to South Korea to meet American troops in the demilitarized zone. Despite Phil Goldberg’s busy schedule, we’re happy he made every effort to attend PeopleAsia magazine’s People of the Year Awards the other night – staying on to receive the plaque of appreciation that were given to the ambassadors and heads of mission of countries that came to our aid in the wake of the devastation wreaked by Typhoon Yolanda. The US Ambassador had to rush to the airport to meet Senator Rubio who was arriving at 10 p.m. that same night.

The junior Republican senator, who is a ranking member of the East Asian and Pacific Affairs of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also visited Japan where he met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and top military officials. Rubio’s weeklong three-nation tour of Asia is perceived by political observers as a serious bid to beef up his credentials as a potential Republican candidate for the 2016 presidential elections. A Cuban American, Rubio first appeared on the radar when he was included in the list of potential running mates for Mitt Romney, the Republican candidate in the 2012 presidential elections.

The charismatic senator – who was Majority Leader in the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008 – broke into the consciousness of Americans when he was chosen to deliver the Republicans’ response to US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address in 2013, but the young politician’s big moment was a bit spoiled when he was shown nervously leaning over to grab a bottle of water and then taking a big gulp before finishing the rest of his speech. 

Rubio’s name is being floated as a potential presidential candidate alongside New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Paul Ryan (Romney’s 2012 running mate), Sen. Rand Paul, Jeb Bush and five others in a recent poll conducted by NBC. Observers noted Rubio’s growing popularity, saying he could even emerge as frontrunner and eclipse potential opponent Chris Christie whose popularity is in a deep decline after being deluged by scandals.

Christie was hailed as a hero for his response to Superstorm Sandy – the deadliest and most destructive hurricane that hit the US in 2012 – but is being accused of petty vindictiveness for allegedly ordering lane closures on the George Washington Bridge and orchestrated traffic jams to punish the mayor for not endorsing Christie for reelection. Worse, citizens of Hoboken – the hometown of Frank Sinatra – are accusing the governor of deliberately withholding Superstorm Sandy recovery funds. The Hoboken mayor said they had asked for $100 million in state funds to help in the recovery of the city which was 80 percent inundated, but Christie allegedly gave $300,000 only because the mayor did not endorse a development project that Christie reportedly supported. Does this kind of dirty politics sound familiar?

Rebranding Eurocopter

Eurocopter’s recent rebranding into Airbus Helicopters augurs well for the world’s top helicopter manufacturer with the Airbus brand bolstering the company’s bid to set even higher industry standards in terms of safety, mission capability and performance. The former Eurocopter is a division of the Netherlands-based EADS Group, which also underwent reorganization and rebranding into the Airbus Group with three divisions under its wings, namely Airbus, Airbus Defense and Space, and Airbus Helicopters.

The rebranding though will not affect the names and designations of Airbus Helicopters products, with the current fleet of choppers both for civilian and military use remaining unchanged. As a matter of fact, Airbus Helicopters will be showcasing the B3-T3 twin-engine and the single engine B4-T2 version in the upcoming Singapore Airshow that will run from February 11–14. The Singapore Airshow is one of the biggest and most important aerospace and defense exhibits in the world, featuring the latest state-of-the-art technologies and systems from the top aerospace manufacturers. The biennial show set new records in 2012 when deals of over $31 billion were announced, and there is a lot of expectation that this will be surpassed in the upcoming airshow where more than 900 companies from 50 countries will be participating.

An extremely successful PeopleAsia awards night

Our congratulations to the PeopleAsia team headed by editor-in-chief Joanne Rae Ramirez for a very successful and well-attended People of the Year Awards held last Tuesday at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati. The magazine had an impressive roster of awardees that include Lifetime Achievement Awardee, National Bookstore founder Socorro “Nanay Coring” Ramos whose award was specially presented by President Noynoy Aquino. Vice President Jejomar Binay was also on hand to present the awards to the other honorees that include Miss World Megan Young, award-winning actress Nora Aunor and young Habitat for Humanity volunteer Alexandra Eduque whose advocacy to help the poor has been recognized by international award giving bodies.

The President noted that PeopleAsia broke a little from tradition because aside from the awardees, we also gave recognition to diplomats and heads of mission whose countries have proven to be true friends of Filipinos. Almost all ambassadors were present (except for a few), with one ambassador remarking that his country truly appreciated the recognition – the very first coming from a private media outfit. The Ambassador says he plans to proudly display the recognition plaque in his office. 

(See the entire photo gallery of the People Asia Awards night event this coming Sunday at our photo column in the Allure section of The STAR.)

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