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Opinion

Social bonds

SEARCH FOR TRUTH - Ernesto P. Maceda Jr. - The Philippine Star

Former congressman and defense secretary Gilberto “Gibo” C. Teodoro Jr. has floated the idea of bonds to finance our continuing need for vaccines.

When it comes to vaccine supply, we can’t be choosers. But the Joneses surely can. In the EU, 1.8 billion doses have been ordered from Pfizer. 900 million through 2023, with the option for 900 million more for the long haul. They’re having it easy and they’re doing it smart, stocking up for booster shots and to answer for “escape mutations.”

No one should stop at herd immunity. After matriculating from our missteps, we here will have to do better in pre-contracting for future vaccine deliveries, for the same eventualities. Hence, the need to shore up funding.

But, always, the claim is that the pantry is empty. So, what are beggars to do? The Harvard Law educated Gibo proposes the issuance of vaccine bonds at below market rates, their proceeds earmarked solely for the procurement, storage and administration of vaccines. Speaking to Cong. Angelo Palmones over dzRH last Thursday, Gibo discussed the innovative, multi-tiered offering to be made available to all Filipinos and foreign investors. The motivation, at least domestically, is patriotism and self-protection. For foreign individual and institutional investors, sustainability, solidarity and socially responsible investments. These “ethical investments” contribute to positive social outcomes, thereby becoming instrumental in speeding up economic recovery.

Our Debt-to-GDP ratio of 55 percent continues to reassure bond lenders. For perspective, Japan’s ratio is at 228 percent and the US at 128 percent.

For this pandemic challenge, we will need all stakeholders assembling Avengers-style. Government, whose principal mandate it is to ensure public health, and the financial market, setting aside for the moment their raison d’etre to raise funds, surprising itself by saving lives and adding true value to society.

What I learned from my mother. My brother Manny’s blogpost yesterday paid tribute to our Mom. I am honored to reproduce it below.

Her name was Marichu Vera Perez Maceda, but we all called her Tutu, the Hawaiian word for grandmother. In an eventful life that could have been a Philippine telenovela, that was the role my mom cherished the most before she passed away.

This is the first Mother’s Day without her, and like so many others in this situation, I’m thinking a lot about what I learned from my mother. She was my first mentor. She was a rock of stability, a promoter of values and a source of unwavering support for her extended family and many friends.

Born in Manila in 1942, my mother married at 18, and by 26 had given birth to five boys (I’m the eldest). In a single year – 1975 – she faced three life-changing challenges. She and my father separated. My grandfather died suddenly. And, as his eldest child, she was tasked with taking over her family’s motion picture studio.

Her life had been consumed by raising kids. She had no business experience. Now she was the CEO of the biggest producer in the Philippines’ equivalent of Bollywood, and in a country in political turmoil.

My mother rose to the occasion, juggling motherhood with business responsibilities. She pushed for films of substance over formulaic comedies. It was not always the wisest business decision, but it reflected her desire for quality. She was proud to be a trailblazer and encouraged the same of others. She was principled and loyal, traits that cascaded from her office through the entire organization. She navigated differences in political views with friends and family members, yet remained close, even when her politics meant living away from her beloved homeland.

In her later years, my mother played the role of the Grand Dame of Philippine Cinema as a mentor to producers, directors and actors. She was always available for support. She became an entrepreneur and hobbyist, starting businesses around things she enjoyed doing, like painting and Christmas-tree decorating.

Above all, she was Tutu, living for her ten grandchildren in the US and the Philippines, and never missing a life event. She made a point of spending time with each of them individually, as she did with me when we went together to the Cannes Film Festival. That was one of the most memorable weeks of my life, and it taught me the importance for parents of multiple kids to spend solo time with each of them.

In this, my first Mother’s Day without her, I’m thinking about the many things she taught me. There are too many to fit here, but this is a start: Live by the golden rule: Treat others as you want to be treated. Care about all people at every level. Always act with integrity. Make a difference in the world. And be there for your friends and family always.

I feel doubly blessed because, in addition to Tutu, I have a mother-in-law who also is a rock of support and love. Josefina Padilla Rufino, my wife Lyra’s mother (whom we call “Tata”), has worked side by side with her husband, Ernest, for more than three decades. They run HMI Health Maintenance Inc., the Philippines’ first HMO, demonstrating that you can live together and work together – and make it look easy. Josie and Ernest just celebrated their 58th anniversary.

Tata has always treated me as a son. She has served as a role model for my wife, Lyra, who emulates her in so many ways. My mother-in-law has given me many things, but the greatest gift has been trusting me with a cherished life partner who has raised four kids in partnership with me.

So on this Mother’s Day weekend, I am honoring my wife, Lyra. I will do a Zoom call with Tata. And I will be saying a prayer for, reflecting and remembering my mom, Tutu.

Rest in peace, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Passages. Our deepest sympathies to the family, friends and fans of Tito Ricky Lo. He was a towering figure in the entertainment industry and one of the strongest characters in the story arc of The Philippine STAR.

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