A day at Manila Yacht Club and Manila Bay
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - November 20, 2018 - 12:00am

Last Friday I was invited to join the 18th Grand Wine Experience at the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott Hotel in Resorts World, Manila. I have attended this great culinary and winery feast for years already but with a difference, before we would arrive by 5:30 p.m. when most of the people were not yet there. But last Friday evening I was totally surprised to see the Grand Ballroom already filled up with people. The most visible group were those of ambassadors of major nations like the United States with Ambassador Sung Kim who was with Marriott general manager Bruce Winton and Ambassador Kojo Haneda of Japan who gamely accepted to have a short TV interview with us.

Ambassador Haneda gave me a truly news worthy report that the number of Filipinos visiting Japan had increased five times! I thought it had increased three times, but I was wrong… I told the Japanese Ambassador that Filipinos were no longer only visiting Tokyo, they have started visiting Fukuoka in the South and Hokkaido in the North, and I also told him that Filipinos no longer found Japanese food expensive like they did in the past. It was indeed another Grand Wine Experience that only the Philippine Wine Merchants could come up with. It has become ASEAN’s great food and wine festival.

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Saturday was a big day for Commodore Robert “Bobby” Joseph for it was the formal turnover of the command of the Manila Yacht Club to be under his leadership. It was also a big day for me as it was my first time to be inside the Manila Yacht Club since Commodore Bobby Joseph accepted my challenge to have the MYC as the lead agency to help clean up Manila Bay. Then I saw myself seated with guest of honor fellow Cebuano Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto III at the guest table. First of all, I must say that you can smell the filth that permeates Manila Bay.

It was good to be seated beside Senate President Sotto so we both could say that Cebuanos are in political power. The Senate President is the grandson of that great Cebuano who created the City of Cebu, Don Vicente Sotto Sr., after whom the main government hospital, the Don Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) is named. That’s where I had my kidney transplant two years ago. What I also found was that Sen. Sotto, Com. Bobby Joseph and all his friends in our table (Boy Tronqued, Butch Belgica and Packy Garcia) all came from one school… Letran, so you can say that the Manila Yacht Club has been invaded by Letranites.

I was really happy to see the turnover ceremonies in the MYC yard, which was complete with the Navy Band. It was really a flag raising ceremony, a flag for the MYC, a flag for the Commodore: a flag for the Coast Guard, a flag for the Philippine Navy and the rear admiral and the Chief of the Navy. This was later followed by the firing of the MYC cannon. Then the parade of yachts followed where the guests boarded the yacht of Chavit Singson dubbed M/V Happy Life. Since my TV crew were already on board, I decided to stay at the clubhouse. It was then that I met Butch Belgica and former Batangas Governor Tony Leviste who invited me to his Batangas resort.

While waiting for the yacht to return, we were joined by Philippine Airlines president Jimmy Bautista and I congratulated him for PAL being the “Most Improved” Airline of 2018. I congratulated him for having PAL flight attendant Patrisha Organo, who breast-fed a passenger’s hungry baby on board a PAL flight from India. As Jimmy told us, Patrisha approached the mother to check if everything was ok and was told that they had ran out of milk and the little one was getting hungry. It was then that the flight attendant stepped in and breast-fed a crying baby. I told the PAL president that this is what PAL earned in being the country’s only 4-Star airline! Patrisha also has a nine-month-old daughter named Jade.

When the yacht returned I had a serious talk with Bobby Joseph on the challenge he accepted for the MYC to be the catalyst in the cleaning up of Manila Bay. Actually most of the work has been done except that then Pres. Benigno Aquino stopped all activities in Manila Bay.

In fact my good friend, Rick Ramos sent me this series of texts.  “On Mar. 4, 2011 ABS-CBN came up with the news entitled, “SC Wants Concrete Plan for Manila Bay Cleanup.” SC gave DENR up to June 30, 2011 to implement its December 2008 order to rehabilitate waters of Manila Bay. The Court en banc also gave the MMDA until Dec.31, 2015 to demolish illegal structures and dwellings along the river banks and waterways connected to Manila Bay.” What is needed is a Manila Bay sustainable development master plan with a timetable to finish this project with proponents from the Netherlands, which unfortunately was stopped by then Pres. Aquino!

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com.

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