GMA, Don Quixote, And Hotel Ritz Madrid (Updated)
Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has reason to be proud on her homecoming today from her valedictory trip abroad.
No, it’s not for being the ‘travelingest’ President of the Philippine imbued with the mission of projecting our best face.
It’s for affirming ‘kinship’ with Spain’s revered cultural icon: Don Quixote Dela Mancha:
Philippine President Gloria Arroyo Thursday received Spain’s Don Quixote de la Mancha award for promoting the Spanish language and culture in her country.
King Juan Carlos handed the prize to Arroyo at a ceremony at the Zarazuela Palace on the outskirts of Madrid.
“This is a recognition of a great political decision that she has taken as leader,” said Jose Maria Barreda, head of Spain’s Castilla-la-Mancha region and whose government co-sponsored the award along the Santillana Foundation, which seeks to promoting Hispanic culture and education.
Arroyo was honored for “her push to bring back Spanish to the Philippine education system,” he told journalists after the ceremony.
The Philippines, a former Spanish colony, dropped Spanish as an official language in 1987 and as a compulsory subject in schools. Since then it has lost further ground to English.
Spanish is still an optional subject in schools, but the government wants to expand the teaching of it from 2012.
Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Lhosa also received the Don Quixote award Thursday, named after the 17th century novel by Miguel de Cervantes.
The annual prize is worth 25,000 euros (33,900 dollars). -1,515,OO
It was first awarded last year, to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes.
(By Agence France Presse)
The accompanying ‘good’ news is that Mrs, Arroyo’s delegation was only 50-people strong, “lean” as the Philippine Daily Inquirer describes it.
Now before you ask how must this trip cost the Filipino taxpayer, do note that the President’s prize came with a grant worth 25,000 euros (33,900 dollars), or about P 1,515,OO at the prevailing exchange rate of P 60.60 to the Euro.
The President is returning to Manila just in time for the income tax filing deadline. Do the numbers.
According to the ritzy hotel’s website, Ritz Madrid Hotel charges a minimum of 235 euros or P14,241 a night for its business clientele. It charges a minimum 230 euros or P13,938 for its so-called Classic Room, and 310 euros or P18,876 for its Deluxe Room.
We also assume her 49 delegation members were each billeted in a ‘Classic’room: 49 ROOMS AT P14,241 – P50.917,241
Not counting any room service charges, the lean Philippine delegation’s billet check would only amount to P52,061,126.
GMA requested P300.2 million for travel expenses in 2007 and asked for the P420.6 million in 2008.
Makati Mayor Jojo Binay, the vice presidential running mate of come-backing for President Estrada says GMA actually overspent her ravel budget by P1 million each day.