Bunye: Welcome to the 'Club'

Atty. Ignacio R. Bunye

IN A video-taped greeting to former President Fidel V. Ramos, former Malaysian Minister Mahatir Mohamad welcomed PFVR to the "Club."

The exclusive "Club" refers to public figures aged 90 and above. Mahatir, 92, is the fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia. He served from 1981 to 2003.

Other greeters (but not yet members of the Club) were PFVR political contemporaries, Bob Hawke of Australia and Singapore's Go Chok Tong.

The occasion was the 90th birthday celebration of PFVR, which he co-celebrated with former First Lady Ming Ramos at the Manila Polo Club last Thursday.

The occasion -- celebrating the Service and Legacy of FVR -- started with the usual book signing of PFVR's latest book, followed by an AVP highlighting various stages of PFVR's career as a soldier, public servant, a statesman, a husband, a father and a lolo.

At 90, PFVR still maintains an active schedule regularly visiting the Ramos Peace and Development Foundation office (RPDEV) office along Buendia where he continues to read, to write and to meet his visitors. Quite a few seek his political advice and/or blessings before running for a public office.

He reads and reads and comments on articles that interest him. I am almost sure that in a few days, I would receive from him a photocopy of this article with his comments written in red -- either agreeing, disagreeing or just simply thanking me.

PFVR continues to be sharp and tries to look and act physically fit. Age has slowed him down somewhat but his hand grip is tight (vice like, describes one his former cabinet members). His affectionate pat on the back sometimes feels like a controlled karate chop.

He started his message on the floor but almost immediately mounted a table from where he finished his speech.

I was expecting him to do his signature "Edsa jump" but he did another number, instead, mimicking a paratrooper doing a low altitude jump shouting "arch thousand...two thousand .... three thousand."

Aside from books, which he churns out, he also distributes to well-wishers pocket-sized pamphlets that contain a litany of his favorite sayings -- which also say a lot about PFVR's philosophy, wit and humor.

The handouts contain such titles as: Great Truths About Getting Old, What is Success, Great Truths That Adults Have Learned, 10 Things in Golf That Sound Dirty, The Four Stages of Life, A Prayer for the Stressed. Also included are off-color sections entitled: How Old Are You? And Counting Calories.

The collection of witticisms is attributed to "sources unknown as of March 2006."

Here are some excerpts:

Great Truths About Growing Old -- Growing up is mandatory, growing old is optional.

What is Success -- At age 4, success is not peeing in your pants. At age 80, success is not peeing in your pants.

Great Truths That Adults Have Learned -- Laughing is good exercise. It is like jogging on the inside.

A Prayer for the Stressed -- Help me to always give 100 per cent of my work. 12 per cent on Monday. 23 per cent on Tuesday. 40 per cent on Wednesday. 20 per cent on Thursday. 5 per cent on Friday.

That's PFVR. 90 and still counting. A statesman par excellence. For me, still the No. 1 Most Admired Adopted Son of Muntinlupa.

Expanded Passport on Wheels

Because of the sheer number of applicants, applying for a passport or getting one renewed can be a challenge. There is the usual waiting time after applying online, and, as expected, the long queues at the DFA main consular office.

To alleviate the situation, the DFA has opened six mall-based satellite consular offices in Metro Manila and even initiated the Passport on Wheels (POW) program.

Starting January 2018, on instructions of Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, DFA has embarked on an expanded POW program both in terms of duration and coverage. Previously done during weekends only, the Passport on Wheels are now operational weeklong.

POWs are now deployed in coordination with 1. local government units. 2. other government offices. 3. private companies. 4. organizers of travel fairs and job fairs. Previous coordination was limited to LGUs.

According to Larry Alcantara, executive assistant in-charge of the POW program, since the expanded operations commenced on January 15, 2018, DFA has served 37,965 from 36 cities and municipalities.

As I wrote this piece, I learned that offsite passport processing was on going in Davao City.

I learned about the expanded Passport on Wheels program only recently. My passport and that of my wife expired on February 19, 2018. Long before expiry date, I applied for renewal of our passports. I promptly got an email reply from DFA setting a date for personal appearance at the DFA Consular office.

There was only one problem. I told DFA that my wife was bedridden and it would take a great effort on her part to make the trip to DFA. DFA asked me to email a doctor's certificate, which would justify my wife's non-appearance.

To cut a long story short, my wife was included among a list of off-site applicants. Before long, DFA reps were knocking at our door to digitally capture my wife's photo, fingerprints and personal data. They said they were in the area as part of an ongoing Passport on Wheels operation.

Passport renewed on the spot and for 10 years. That's what I would call public service.

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