Hail to the Mail

If you see Marites (alias Bing) Branigin strutting around town with oodles of press passes hanging around her neck or hidden in her purse, do not be surprised. Ditto for The Manila Mail Communications, Inc., publisher of the Manila Mail, and the newspapers editorial staff.
[ad#featuredpost120x600-wht]They are very proud of the honor given to Bing and the Manila Mail by the Senate Press Gallery which is the only office that can give media accreditation to the inauguration of a president. Bing was accredited to cover the oath-taking of President Obama at the Capitol on January 20. The Mail was as far as is known – one of three Filipino American publications given such accreditation.
Because she had the media accreditation, Bing was positioned in the press section which was located very close to the inaugural stage. She occupied a place that was better than those given to some Filipino American leaders.
In addition to the media accreditation given by the Senate Press Gallery, Bing was also given media accreditation by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to cover as many events lined up prior to the inauguration itself. The PIC gave her separate IDs for each event she was allowed to “cover.”
“I was a close witness to the making of history!” she crows.
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Now that the smoke from the historic inaugural of President Obama has begun to clear up, Filipino Americans are breathing a sigh of relief. Pinoy Democrats are still groggy from the revelry. And Filipino Republicans are wringing their hands in glee that despite the prediction that millions would come, there were less who came for the inauguration. “Even the weather was not very cooperative,” said an Obama follower. “Buti nga…it was just all hype,” says a grumpy Palin follower.
But what strikes many of the Pinoy Republicans is that even Ambassador Willy C. Gaa has been caught in the euphoria. The ambassador sponsored a series of pre- inaugural parties in honor of Obama. The first was a pre-inaugural reunion at the embassy residence on Jan. 16 for former staffers of the Philippine embassy. The second was the inaugural reception for Obama at the Philippine embassy on Jan. 19. “Is he trying to ingratiate himself with the incoming administration? Was he trying to establish a precedent along embassy row when he cried MABUHAY to Obama during the reception?” said a disgruntled Pinoy GOP who incidentally was at the embassy pre-inaugural party.
And some were surprised that Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo sneaked in unannounced Jan. 13 to call on Sens. Daniel Inouye and Daniel Akaka in Congress to get their assurance that the veterans bill will be reintroduced in Congress. Sources said he also sounded them out about the incoming presidents stand on the Philippines.
Upon his return to Manila, he also “greeted” the Filipino American community and gave his Mabuhay to Obama on his inauguration.
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Many questions are being raised as to why some Filipino American Democrats, including Mail columnist Jon Melegrito, made a trip to the Philippines thus being absent for the inauguration. Jon told friends he was enjoying his vacation in the motherland, the first after more than 20 years. This was the first time that he and Elvie returned home to meet with relatives in Nueva Ecija and the Ilocos provinces.
It will be noted that Jon and Elvie were among the diehard Democratic foot soldiers who campaigned hard first for Hillary Clinton and then Barack Obama before the November elections. Jon even told friends that when Obama clinched the election and appeared on TV announcing his victory, he and Elvie cried and screamed with joy.
(See Jons column in the Jan. 15 issue of the Manila Mail.)
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Also in the Philippines are the leaders and volunteers of the Feed the Hungry. They are there for the annual distribution of gifts and assessment of the groups humanitarian work in many provinces in the country. Among them, of course, are Tessie and Pablito Alarcon.
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Pinoy Democrats are probably overdoing their love for the new president. First it was the book “Pareng Obama” written by a Filam writer in San Francisco. Now, in San Diego, they are creating an Obama Pan de Sal! Maybe the next one will be a song “Oh my mama baby.” Or kalderetang Michelle…Adobong Barack.
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Unknown to many were other Asian American inaugural events in the Washington D.C. area. Among these were Jan. 17 the Asia Society reception; Filipinos for Obama welcome celebration at Caf̩ Asia in DC, tickets- $30person;Jan. 18 Organization of Chinese Americans; Filipinos for Obama Meeting on K Street;Aloha Inaugural Ball, Marriott Wardman Park Hotel Р$300-$550: South Asian American Leaders of Tomorrow (SAALT) Reception K&L Gates.
AAPI Pre-Inaugural Party at Cafe Asia-Rosslyn; Monday, January 19: Moving the Dream Forward: An APIAVote Briefing on the 2008 Election, Transition,20& Policy Mandarin Oriental Hotel; Celebration of Indian American Leadership at Indique Heights Restaurant; AAA-Fund, Asian American LEAD and MD AAPIs for Obama MLK National Day of Service; Bayanihan: Taking Care of All our Veterans. The Filipino American community is committed to taking care of all men and women who serve in our Armed Forces. From the Filipino American WWII veterans who continue to struggle for recognition to current servicemembers who will be our “future veterans,” we bring the spirit of bayanihan- communal effort- to this work. Please join us for a fun event where we will assemble care packages for current and future veterans! Location TBD – Asian American Justice Center at 1140 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 1200; Jan. 20: Asian Pacific Americans for Progress Inaugural Celebration, Perry’s Restaurant – 1811 Columbia Road NW; Pre-Gala VIP Cocktail Reception “Celebrating the Civic Project’s Inaugural Year & Honoring APAs in Politics:” Jan. 20: Out for Equality – LGBT Inauguration Event, Cosponsor- National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, Renaissance Mayflower Hotel – 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW; Hawaii State Society Ball, Mandarin Oriental Hotel – 1330 Maryland Avenue SW; Sikh Inaugural Ball, Ascot, I-The Indian Experience Restaurant 1708 L Street NW.

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