0826. The “townterview” at the University of Santo Tomas starts a few minutes late. Packed auditorium.
0828. Secretary Hillary Clinton exchanges pleasantries with the host, Maria Ressa, and talks on the importance of education.
0832. Ateneo basketball star Chris Tiu asks the first question. The first is about poverty. How can the youth engage in the fight against poverty? In his excitement his voice breaks. Aww, puberty.
My friend at GMA-7 says Chris Tiu has such a huge fan base, they call it Iglesia ni Chris Tiu.
Chris Tiu and Ambassador Kenney
Sec. Clinton talks about the US providing assistance beginning with flood relief, commends government on relief and reconstruction efforts, but says people themselves have to organize to help themselves. Question for youth: What can you do to help? She suggests mentoring a poor child.
Chris’s follow-up: Favorite basketball team? Prediction on the Pacquiao-Cotto fight? She says being from Chicago she followed the Bulls, especially during the Michael Jordan era. As NY Senator she’s rooted for the Knicks, which is discouraging, but they’re now trying to get LeBron James. “Of course Pac-Man will win.” Big cheer.
Reret sent a link to the NYT article on Manny Pacquiao’s dysfunctional entourage.
Question from Marikina by video: Concerns over RP’s human rights record. Sec. Clinton says “It’s not perfect here (the Philippines) as it’s not perfect anywhere.” She is “encouraged by progress in the peace efforts.” She pronounces M-I-L-F, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, “Milf”. (They really need a name change in order to be taken more seriously in the international media.) Obviously a slip because in the next sentence she pronounces it M-I-L-F.
The audience is quiet and respectful. I wonder what it might’ve been like if this forum had been held at the University of the Philippines? Would it be interrupted by:
b. Activists who recite a 10-paragraph speech very rapidly, in deep Tagalog, without drawing breath.
c. Nothing at all. (That would be sad.)
0841. Live feed from Mindanao, where Ces Drilon notes that Pinoys are more approving of the American presence in the Philippines. Question on the direction of RP-US relations. (That’s fairly obvious: Filipinos are taking over America. But that’s just me.)
Re family time, Sec. Clinton says it’s all about scheduling. Her husband is going to the Middle East right now. When they have time together she says they take long walks and catch up on their sleep.
0846. Ricky Carandang: Will Chelsea go into politics? Her mom says probably not.
0847. Dumaguete: Will the Obama government’s efforts to reverse the recession affect her attitude on free trade? Sec. Clinton says they are slowly moving back to economic stability but they would like to see workers benefit more from free trade. The environment has to be taken account in trade agreements. “We want free trade to discourage climate change.”
0850. Ricky Carandang: Can we expect something significant to be announced in Burma re loosening restrictions on Aung San Suu Kyi? Sec. Clinton: Probably not.
I’m sitting in the first row: good. In the farthest corner nearest the exit: not good. Mo Twister is seated right behind me, I think he’s bagged an interview. I’m lucky to get a seat at all, since I idiotically forgot my Macbook in the van (duh) and had to dash back to retrieve it. It’s lack of sleep and unaccustomed exposure to early morning sunlight.
Sec. Clinton pays tribute to people who fight for human rights and democracy, like Suu Kyi and Solidarity in Poland.
Maria Ressa: But this is a different world from when you were First Lady. Good point.
Sec. Clinton notes that in Afghanistan, there is overwhelming evidence that people do not want the Taliban. The US is “not interested in Afghanistan”. . .wants the country to be able to defend itself.
Pinky Webb; When will the US have its first female president?
Sec. Clinton: I’m the last person to ask. . .I’ve certainly tried.
Sec. Clinton: The Philippines has had two women presidents, so I should ask you. What’s the secret?
Yes, what is the secret? Interesting to note that our women presidents took power by kicking out corrupt male presidents.
0900. A UST student named Jackie Chan asks what major changes we can expect in US foreign policy under Obama. Sec. Clinton notes Obama government’s willingness to reach out to people with whom they do not agree. We may add: something not known to happen in the previous administration.
“We want to see governments held more accountable to their own people,” she says.
Ricky Carandang: Can the US do more to nudge friendly but corrupt governments to be more accountable? I wonder what friendly but corrupt government he’s referring to.
She knows we are one of the most texty countries in the world.
Question posted online: Do you have a crush besides Bill Clinton?
The answer: Yes, but I don’t think I should go further.
She admits having had a crush on the singer Fabian and being president of the Fabian Fan Club. It had three members. Then she was a huge Beatles fan and later got to meet Paul McCartney. Her 90-year-old mother has a mad crush on Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones.
She adds that having a crush on a basketball player will hurt your neck.
0908. Back to Mindanao. Ces Drilon asks about the peace process. Sec. Clinton says the peace process is something they support but are not involved in.
Maria Ressa asks if a political solution is necessary, or if a socio-economic approach can work. Sec. Clinton says they have to go hand-in-hand. You can’t have a peace agreement if one group of people has more rights than another group in the country.
0914. The forum has been extended for a few minutes. In Dumaguete Tony Velasquez offers her an I Heart Dumaguete pin on behalf of Silliman students.
Maria Ressa says many believe this government has neither the will nor the popularity to make a Mindanao peace treaty possible. Sec. Clinton says she believes President Arroyo is committed to peace.
How we’re doing, democracy-wise: “As hard as it is, it is by far the best system human beings have ever devised.” She praises the move to automated elections.
Online question: The US does not walk the talk on climate change. The US is perceived as protecting big business at the expense of the environment.
Sec. Clinton notes that the Obama administration is more aggressive in addressing climate change and is committed to reaching a good framework agreement for climate change.
Pinky Webb wants to know, as many of us do, if President Arroyo has promised to step down in 2010. Sec. Clinton says they had a comprehensive discussion, but Arroyo’s political plans did not come up.
Online question: When will the US change its immigration policy? Something manymany Pinoys want to know.
Sec. Clinton: They’re working on comprehensive immigration reform.
Maria Ressa: Are there any decisions you and your husband made during his presidency that you would change?
Sec. Clinton: Lots. Hindsight is 20-20 vision. I wish we’d been more successful in reforming heath care.
Same issue that recently plagued the Obama administration.
Pinky Webb: A message to the Filipino people?
Sec. Clinton: Our friendship is one I highly value. She notes contributions of Filipino-Americans to American society.
For perspective, I asked the traveling press (AP-AFP-Reuters) if Hillary Clinton was asked any questions at this forum that have not been asked of her over and over again for the last 2,000 years. They said that with the exception of the Philippine-specific questions, No. The Fabian, Mick Jagger, Michael Jordan, what she and Bill do in their spare time, whether Chelsea will go into politics questions have been brought up in the last seven or eight Town Hall Meetings she’s done, and some of the bits are in her autobiography.
All my incredibly fast, fairly accurate typing and I get two questions from readers. extradirtymind, sure, please post your questions and contact info in Comments and I’ll get back to you. bluepop, I am wearing black Stan Smith Adidas sneakers, austere enough to convince people that I am wearing “proper” shoes.