Mother Lily’s 80th birthday bash

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

With proper permission from Entertainment Editor Ricky F. Lo, allow me to write a showbiz article because last week, no less than Mother Lily Monteverde called to invite me and my wife Jessica to Manila on her 80th birthday. I normally don’t accept party invitations where I have to fly to Manila… but who can say no to Mother Lily whom the Avila family has known for 40 years as our theaters were exclusive to Regal Films?

I flew to Manila after a two-night stay at the fabulous Movenpick Resort Hotel in Mactan with my wife despite the disruption of the airlines, thanks to that Xiamen Airlines incident last Friday. I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel at 6 p.m. (after a three-hour delay in Mactan) just an hour before the big birthday bash of Mother Lily and what a great party that Mother Lily threw for her friends from all over, including politicians from different political parties.

Before she made her grand entrance, Mother Lily talked with former Pres. Benigno Aquino III who brought along Bimby. Inside the ballroom was former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and former President and now Manila City Mayor Joseph Estrada was on the same table with Father a.k.a. Remy Monteverde, husband of Mother Lily.

When I was with Philippine Airlines in Davao City a few months ago, they had Sharon Cuneta to sing for the launching of the Bombardier Q400 and I approached Sharon and she still remember me from way back when. I met her again in Mother Lily’ party with my wife. Another superstar who apparently didn’t forget me was Gov. Vilma Santos who said hi to me and I asked her if she knew me… and she said, I was from Cebu. Then I reminded her of the time we had a shooting for the film “Yakapin mo ako matapang na lalaki” with Lito Lapid. It’s so heartwarming that old friends apparently do not forget the good old days. We had a selfie together.

Another actress whom I approached was Annabelle Rama who immediately recognized me and had a photo… she tagged along her cousin, former Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama. Of course my media friends were there, led by Ricky Lo, Wilson Flores all from the Philippine STAR and Tessa Mauricio of Manila Bulletin. Senators Loren Legarda and Grace Poe were there with Sen. Cynthia Villar. Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo gave a song, which he sang beautifully.

I also met old friends, like Star Cinema’s Angie Pineda who brought my godson Dr. Mic Mic Pineda. Also there was Clarisse Sto. Domingo, booker for the Robinson’s Group, and yes, old friends like Director Elwood Perez who was with Dr. Tito Garcia. Also with us on the table was Christina Caparas, daughter of Carlo J. Caparas and husband Eric. They just did that movie about the horrible incident that happened to the Chong sisters in Cebu. I’m back in Cebu now after a very enjoyable evening with my old showbiz friends. So congratulations Mother Lily for staying healthy all these 80 years.

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Just when I wrote last Thursday about the need for this country to create a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as requested by the National Air Safety Foundation of the Philippines, somehow people started to notice the necessity of having an NTSB… then came that Xiamen Airline crash landing on the main runway of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) when all hell broke loose and the entire Aviation Industry in the Philippines was in turmoil!

Truth to tell, this would have been a minor mishap if NAIA had a second runway parallel to the main runway. But the thinking of NAIA officials is building more terminals, not realizing that the more passengers fly to the Philippines, the more we need a second runway. When I was a private sector representative at the Mactan Cebu International Airport Authority (MCIAA) this was my advocacy to build a second runway for Mactan. But whenever I asked for a second runway… DOTC officials always tell us, we don’t need it. At this point, let me say that if NAIA had a second runway parallel to the main runway, the Xiamen Airlines crash landing would be a minor mishap. But because of the lack of a parallel runway it became a disaster!

So I understand that the Senate would conduct an investigation asking the transportation officials and airline executives to explain what happened during last weekend? Honestly speaking, what can the Senate do when none of our Senators are Aviation specialists? This is why I have been writing feverishly about the need for a second runway for 15 years now and also the need for an NTSB. But as usual, no one listens until the next trouble appears and disturbs the national economy. Until and unless the Senate would give us a second runway for NAIA, MCIA and for the Davao Airport, we can never move forward in our aviation industry.

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