Frequent flyer

Also sometime known on this page as “Johnnie Walker,” former Japanese Ambassador TsuneoTanaka flies in at least twice a year to look after his 50 something NGO projects … or to start a new one.

On September 9, Ambassador Tanaka (Uncle Joe to the Cory Aquino clan and hereafter) and Pinky Aquino Abellada presided at turn-over ceremonies of class rooms in Malabon.  Uncle Joe said they were warmly welcomed; it was just like a big festival.

Pinky inaugurated the Imelda Elementary School in Malabon.  (After a former First Lady?)  Pinky and her sister Ballsy Aquino Cruz have built 805 classrooms throughout the country over 4 years through their NGO, the AGAPP (Aklat, gabay, aruga, tungo sa pag-angat at pag-asa).

Uncle Joe inaugurated classrooms of Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School in Tugatog, Malabon City.  (The late pundit Max Soliven gave the nom de guerre “Toilet Ambassador” to Tanaka because the schools he supported should always come with water closets.  As the saying goes, cleanliness is next to Godliness.)

I got to know Uncle Joe thorough his protege, another former Japanese Ambassador, Ryuichiro Yamazaki, who came like “the day after the night.”  (Ambassador Yamazaki’s predecessor never lived down being quoted to have “Sleepless nights in Manila” over security.  Yamazaki changed all that – sporting Barong Tagalog, reaching out to students (apropos to his London boarding school upbringing, beginning his speeches with a joke), and starting with his wife Noriko their own NGO in PH.)

I wrote about what Yamazaki said: That when Ambassador Tanaka and his wife Yayoi  (Japanese for “spring”) went  on a sentimental cruise to heal the wound of losing their daughter, he requested the Filipino band to sing “Bayan Ko” …resulting in a spontaneous chorus of the Filipino crew reverberating on the ship.

Ever since then, I shared a table with Uncle Joe and Ramon Sy whenever he blows into town.

Ramon is a banker of consequence who sent through channels the suggestion to improve on PNoy’s No-Wang-Wang on Daang Matuwid by fixing Manila’s maddening traffic.  (It must have fallen on deaf ears, or was this a job for Erap?)

On this visit, Uncle Joe invited us at the Alba because he likes to hear a Filipino trio sing.  (Ramon would turn the tables on him by picking up the tab.)

Our table would overflow with paella, lengua, callos, and other favorite Alba fare before we knew that we had ordered beyond our strength.  Uncle Joe requested two songs, “Hindi kita malimot” and “Bayan ko.”  The first reminds him of his departed daughter , and the second of Cory’s standing up to 7 coup attempts.  Ramon requested “Ikaw” and I explained to Joe the lyrics of my requested “Usahay.”  After obliging everyone, the trio offered to sing Japanese songs; but Uncle Joe requested instead a repeat of his two Filipino favorites.

Joe said that Noriko, wife of Ambassador Ryuichiro Yamazaki, recently invited Sacred Heart College in Tokyo alumnae to a concert by the popular pop group “Bonnie Jacks” to raise funds for post-Yolanda Leyte.   Joe came with Yayoi (also a member of the “Sacred Heart Mafia”).  He said that, unknown to the Japanese press, the most distinguished alumna of the Sacred Heart College also arrived incognito to support the initiative.

Joe rings the bell calling on generous Japanese patrons for his NGOs in PH.  What he personally gives out of pocket depends on the fortune of the stock exchange and the parity of the Japanese yen.

On a previous visit, Joe experienced children ages 2 to 5 lining up for feeding program.  They had gruel, topped with the most basic additive for a sprinkling of taste.  His heart sank when told that the NGO was holding its last feeding day because funds had run out.

Uncle Joe does not favor giving to charity:  He always believes in the adage about teaching a man to catch a fish to help himself.

This time he did something unusual.  He pulled out two envelopes, and gave one to Ramon and the other one to me:  He asked us to each choose some 50 children to give a special treat on Christmas Day.  Uncle Joe knows that the challenge is a bottomless pit.  But he wanted this drop in the bucket for children to experience something special on Christmas.

Ramon has an ongoing feeding program.  I know my parish priest will be able to make kids especially happy on Christmas.

On this visit, as usual, Ramon and Joe will squeeze in time to tee off.  I have passed up the honor because I am a hazard on the course.  FEEDBACK:

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Frequent flyer
Japanese Class – Yahoo News Search Results
Japanese Class – Yahoo News Search Results

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