Last Monday, our airplane went around in circles before we were allowed to land at NAIA. In Cebu, we were rushed to board the plane to be able to fly to Manila before the no-fly-zone took effect. Unfortunately, maybe in haste, the door to the baggage compartment was not properly secured and so the ground maintenance crew had to work on it. Fortunately, we were still given permission to proceed to Manila.
Upon arrival in Manila, my taxi went around and around, too, because all roads leading to Malacanang were closed. And all because of US President Barack Obama’s state visit. Only to hear his muted warning against China because he didn’t want to antagonize Beijing. In the same breath, he said we were America’s allies. Let us also remember that the US owes China big time. Wikipedia reports: As of May 2011 the largest single holder of US government debt was China, with 26 percent of all foreign-held US Treasury securities (8 percent of total US public debt). China’s holdings of government debt, as a percentage of all foreign-held government debt, dipped a bit between 2010 and 2011, but have remained up significantly since 2000 (when China held just 6 percent of all foreign-held US Treasury securities).
And we owe the US big time. Sadly, most of us think that we owe the US more than that, in the sense of “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude) whatever for, nobody is clear about. Well, the US is still the number one market for our products and produce, among other things.
Anyway, Obama has aged tremendously from the smiling handsome White House newbie after six years in office. He looked and sounded tired and harried when he was here. He needed to be careful with every word he uttered, lest he incurred the ire of certain camps, in his own country and elsewhere.
What I admire about President Obama is his stand on climate change. Whitehouse.gov reports: “The President has taken unprecedented action to build the foundation for a clean energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change, and protect our environment.”
It continues: “In December 2009, President Obama and other world leaders came together to negotiate the Copenhagen Accord, an important milestone in which, for the first time, all major developed and developing economies agreed to implement measures to limit their greenhouse gas emissions and to do so in an internationally transparent manner. In 2010, the Cancun Agreement confirmed and substantially extended the core elements of the Copenhagen Accord in the areas of finance, technology and adaptation as well as mitigation and transparency in an instrument that the parties enthusiastically endorsed.
“In December 2011 at Durban, the United States and the international community took important steps to make operational all of the key elements of the Cancun agreement, including a transparency regime to monitor and review mitigation efforts by developed and developing countries, as well as established a Green Climate Fund. In addition, a process was launched to negotiate a new legal instrument to take effect from 2020, and US leadership was crucial to ensuring that the instrument will be applicable to all parties and include all of the major economies within a common legal system.
The Major Economies Forum
The Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, launched by President Obama in April 2009, facilitates a candid dialogue among major developed and developing economies to make progress in meeting the climate change and clean energy challenge. The 17 major economies are members of the Major Economies Forum, namely: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, the United Kingdom, and the US.
Question: What did business, in particular, gain from this state visit? At least, commerce was unhampered despite the gargantuan air and land traffic jam.
And now I am off to the US for two conferences.