My good friend, the US Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie Kenney who was here in GenSan last year (read my embarrasing encounter with her by clicking HERE), was in town again for a whole day visit.
In the morning of February 8, 2008 she attended the graduation at the Barangay Tinagacan Gym (about 10 kms from downtown) of 39 former street children and out-of-school youth who just finished their short technical course on Shielded Metal Arc Welding through the Marcellin Kapatid Program under the Marcellin Foundation, Inc.
US Ambassador Kristie Kenney being chummy with school children from Tinagacan High School.
Arriving at 11 am in time for the ceremonial giving of certificates, my friend was resplendent in her orange outfit but looked thinner than the last time she was here. Still her million wattage smile that melted the hearts of tens of Mindanao’s war lords, military officers and politicians still managed to work its way on the people (mostly school kids & the graduates’ parents) who were at the gym to meet her.
Her speech was short, her words carefully selected, but profuse with admiration for the former “bad boys” and “black sheeps” of GenSan whose parents have surrendered them to Bro. Crispin Betita’s care.
A member of the Marist Brothers Religious Community, MFI Executive Director Bro. Crispin, a 7th Gawad Geny Lopez Jr. Bayaning Pilipino 2004 Finalist, can only beam with pride at his wards’ accomplishments and was apologetic about the unruliness of some of the boys who couldn’t contain their excitement at the presence of my friend Kristie Kenney.
He was however vocal in his gratitude to his partners in the Kapatid Program who helped give life to his dreams of providing these children an “education and training in life skills as well as technical, livelihood skills with the hope that they will have a better life”.
These partners are USAID (the reason why my friend Kristie is back), Chevron Philippines (what used to be known as Caltex), International Youth Foundation, Consuelo Foundatin, Inc., Education & Employment Alliance, TESDA Provincial Office, Barangay Council of Tinagacan and the City Social Welfare Division Office under City Mayor Jun Acharon.
Next stop for the good Ambassador is the Central Public of GenSan where another rousing welcome awaits her. Watch out for my blog post about it.