French Prime Minister rides in a jeepney-A A +A
Monday, October 22, 2012
THE French prime minister did something many Filipino politicians haven’t bothered to do.
Clad in a formal suit as though in a United Nations Security Council function, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault was excited on board the jeepney at the Fuente Osmeña.
He was joined by his wife Brigette, Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia and a number of French businessmen.
For him to get the real feel of taking the Philippines’ main mode of mass transport, the jeepney was a small one, with fading paint and foam seats that were peeled in some areas.
As the jeepney started before the French security escorts, someone from the sidewalk shouted and reminded the governor that if ever she would act as conductor, the minimum fare now is P7.50 for the first five kilometers.
A member of the Presidential Security Group took the driver’s seat.
The jeepney conveyed Ayrault and company near the flagpole of the Cebu Capitol Grounds where hundreds of well-wishers including Sinulog dancers, government officials and residents welcomed him.
As Ayrault shook hands with those who welcomed him at the Capitol Grounds, the prime
minister said he enjoyed the one-kilometer ride.
Ayrault, his wife, the French media and businessmen wanted to get a dose of the Cebuano culture.
At the Mactan Cebu International Airport, protocol dictates that all the businessmen and other non-government officials exit near the tail-end of the aircraft. Ayrault was the first to emerge from the main door of the French presidential aircraft and shook hands with those who welcomed him.
But instead of going to a waiting Peugeot diplomatic car, he stopped for about 10 minutes to observe the Sinulog dance. Brigette was even smiling while taking pictures of the Sinulog dancers.
At the Cebu Capitol grounds, the PM also stopped for a while to have a better look at the dozens of dancers in costumes.
At the Capitol building entrance, Ayrault also stopped to hear the music of a children’s Rondalla.
While at the second floor of the Capitol Building, Ayrault sat alone on an old chair in front of an antique table, logged his name on the oldest logbook as the newest visitor, witnessed by Gov. Garcia, Board Members Ribomapil “Joeyboy” Holganza Jr. and Julian Daan and French businessmen.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 22, 2012.