It is not often that the President of the Philippines can welcome arriving balikbayan or foreign guests at her official residence in Malacanang Palace, in the nation’s capital of Manila. Much more, it is not always that the Chief Executive, with all her workload schedules and numerous social functions to attend to, day by day, can still accept the invitation to be the Guest of Honor of a provincial homecoming celebration, to be held the week after.
If the Presidential presence is the gage of success for a grand affair, then the thing speaks for itself, the twelve(12) day 2009 TBTK Global Homecoming scheduled from July 14-26, can be considered as one. For right on day one, our Boholano balikbayans and their foreign guests, after arrival from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, have a scheduled audience on the afternoon of July 14, a Tuesday, with Her Excellency, Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Boholano delegation will be led by Congressman Edgar Chatto, Bohol Gov. Erico Aumentado and the TBTK Chairperson Betty Veloso-Garcia. After which, they will be given a guided tour at Malacanang Palace, and to be served with cocktails at the Heroes Hall .
As if given the privilege to meet the Head of State in person and being accorded all the VIP treatment, still not enough, President Arroyo will fly to Bohol the week after, to be with them for the Bohol Day celebration scheduled on July 22, a Wednesday, hosted by the Provincial Government of Bohol, headed by Governor Erico Aumentado. What more, her DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, will also be in Bohol on July 25, a Saturday, to lead a massive tree-planting drive province-wide in the morning, at the bank of Abatan River in Cortes town. In joint efforts of the Bohol Chamber of Commerce and the Provincial Government of Bohol. Just as the theme of the 4th TBTK staging is about Clean and Green Environment, Ecological Awareness, and the love of Mother Earth.
Count our blessings and give thanks with a grateful heart, for President Arroyo has special affection to the people of Bohol. Not just for giving her the second highest votes during the 2003 election, but for being in the forefront of the national campaign for tourism promotions. Where the TBTK Global Homecoming, that started in 1999, was cited by the Department of Tourism as a model for other provinces to follow. Where Bohol now is considered as among the leading tourist destination sites in the Philippines. Bohol, according to statistical surveys conducted by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration(POEA), also leads in the dollar remittances with an astounding figure of $57 million in 2008, from our Boholano Overseas Filipino Workers(OFW) and Overseas Contract Workers(OCW).
Suffice it to say, the Boholanos are now respected in our country and admired in workplaces abroad. Our TBTK Chairperson, Mrs. Betty Veloso-Garcia and family, departed for Bohol yesterday, Wednesday, July 8, from the JFK International Airport in New York. She just came from Seattle, Washington, where Betty attended the Sleepless In Seattle Confederation of the Boholanos In the United States and Canada(CONBUSAC) Convention, headed by President Carlos Caga-anan. She also met Bohol Governor Erico Aumentado, CONBUSAC’s Guest of Honor. We beam with pride to hear that the TBTK Chairperson is awarded as one of the Ten Most Outstanding Overseas Boholanos by the CONBUSAC. Betty truly deserves such recognition. For all her efforts poured in the TBTK – for the cause of Bohol and the Boholanos.
Douglas B. Hontanosas