Following the graduation of 30 out-of-school youth from Marcellin Foundation (read account here), my friend Kristie Kenney, the US Ambassador to the Philippines rushed to one of the country’s TOP 5 Model Markets, the Gen. Santos City Central Public Market for another USAID-funded project for the city under the EcoGov program.

There, she was met by about 2,000 excited market people all eager to see her. It took her awhile to negotiate the access road separating Phase A building and Phase B building to the tent where the program will be held, because a lot of her new fans wanted to shake her hand, a wish she most easily acquiesced to. It was 1:30pm and despite the scorching heat, she also gamely waved and flashed her million wattage smile to everyone from the steps of both phases. [quote1]

The occasion was actually the Memo of Agreement-signing between the city government of GenSan and Basic Needs Services-Phils. regarding the (brace for this looonnng title) (#1) Preparation of the Detailed Engineering Design (DED) & Detailed Cost Plan for the Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) of the City Public Market and the (another looongg one) (#2) Presentation of BNS Philippines’ contract to GenSan for the Preparation of the Public Market’s WWTF’s Detailed Engineering Design and Detailed Cost Plan (whew).

My friend Ambassador Kristie Kenney‘s assigned role is to simply hand over to GenSan Mayor Jun Acharon the signed contract during #2.

After the short ceremony brilliantly emceed by Assistant City Administrator Glennville Gonzales and a few photo ops, she dropped by the wet market where she witnessed in astonishment a master slicer cutting up a giant 40-kg yellow fin tuna for her.

It must have been a “life-changing” experience for my friend Kristie that she dug into her pocket and gave the slicer P500.00 who then immediately packed five kilos of meat from the belly of the freshly-opened fish for her.

Then it was bye-bye time for my gracious pal Kristie Kenney as she went back to the air-conditioned  comfort of her car but not after leaving memories of her short, sweet visit to the palengke people of Gensan.

Below are the pictures I took of that eventful afternoon when my BFF US Ambassador Kristie Kenney visited the Central Public Market of the Tuna Capital of the Philippines and brought home with her the smiles and cheers of her market-vendor fans including two kilos of freshly-sliced yellow fin tuna belly.

The long stretch of people who have lined up along the steps of Phase A building to catch a glimpse of my friend. “Dugay pa ba ang Amerkana muabut? Alas dose pa mi diri intawon.” (Rough translation: “She is late.”) The program proper is at the farther end of this access road.
My friend was almost mobbed by the palengke (market) people here, being their first time to see a US Ambassador live (who smells good and looks good too). Obviously, this was a security nightmare for her men but she couldn’t seem to care nonetheless. Galing ng friend ko! Atta girl!
The procession commences. Men in “purontong shorts” & flip-flops are visibly starstrucked with my friend who waves to them as she passes by on her way to the tent for the short turnover ceremony. Behind her is her bodyguard who seems to have smelled something “not-nice” in his surroundings.

Here, my friend gives her sweetest smile to me as I shoot her in this group photo with the mayor Jun Acharon & vice-mayor Flor Congson (on her right, sitting) and the healthy Councilors Odjok Acharon & Richard Atendido (extreme left, sitting). Directly behind her is City Administrator Teody Dumagan who almost covers my buddy Assistant City Administrator Glenville Gonzales who will kill me if I did not mention his name here.
My friend all ready to pay P500 for the 5 kilos of meat from the belly cut up from the yellow fin tuna by this master slicer in red apron at the wet section, the most fragrant part of the GenSan Central Public Market.

WELCOME BACK Madame Ambassador! Hoping to see you again in these parts!