The meeting with the mayor

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013


THE meeting was set at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Heads of BPOs cleared their schedule for this meeting that they had anticipated to be important. After all, the mayor had called for it.

This was actually the second meeting. The first one was held a few days after super typhoon Yolanda hit the Visayas last Nov. 8 but only fewer than five showed up.

In that meeting, the mayor was said to have chided the BPO representatives present for their failure to heed his order of no-work no-class day on Nov. 8. The mayor called for a second meeting, this time, with top executives of the business processing outsourcing located in Cebu City.

Some flew in from Manila, bringing with them documents and other data to present to the mayor that would show what their companies do during typhoons and what it had done to help employees in the aftermath of Yolanda.

One of those who came to Cebu for this meeting was someone I had lunch with yesterday.

I have his permission to write about what transpired in their meeting with the mayor
last Dec. 3.

The meeting was set at 5 p.m. at the mayor's office. The chief executive arrived an hour later. There were about 30 BPO heads and representatives, some of them foreigners. Knowing what happened in the first meeting, they had their explanation of why work was not suspended last Nov. 8, ready.

The mayor greeted them and led a prayer. Then he began.

He began with telling them about himself, his political career and his pedigree. He got up and walked towards the framed pictures on the walls of his office. The pictures are those of his ancestors and of him with some of his kin and VIPs.

He pointed to that of Vicente Rama and told them about how his grandfather's contribution to the city. He went from one framed picture to another.

He asked them if they knew his cousin Annabelle Rama. He pointed to one picture and said this was Annabelle, she is a celebrity and she is the mother of Ruffa Guiterrez and his niece Ruffa is a movie actress.

By this time, the visitors were wondering where the mayor's familial speech was heading. Where was the Yolanda aftermath in all this? How were the BPOs to concern themselves with this Annabelle-Ruffa blah-blah?

The mayor's office is bedecked with pictures. They wondered if he was going to give an anecdote or history of every picture.

The whole time the mayor spoke, he gave no prelude to the purpose of the meeting. The visitors wondered if they were in the right meeting. They had endured the horrendous traffic to get to the meeting on time. Some of them flew from Manila to be in the meeting.

It was nearing 7 p.m. One of the mayor's staff served peanuts and water.

The mayor said he would sing to them. Anyone here wants to sing, he asked. They smiled but no one volunteered. One of the mayor's staff gave him a thick catalog of songs. He flicked through the pages and found his choice.

He sang "One in a Million."

He thanked the contribution of the BPOs to the economy of Cebu and the Philippines, and asked them to take care of their employees. This was what he said in a nutshell.

He asked if anyone had questions. He would answer any question. No one raised a question.

The meeting was over. It was 7:15 p.m.

The BPO executive I had lunch with said, "Your mayor is religious. He talks in circles."

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 05, 2013.

Opinion

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