Why We Loved Senator Ralph Recto’s Endorsement Speech For New DOT Chief Berna Puyat
The Commission on Appointments can be a difficult lot, but when they like you, they really, really like you. At least, that’s how it appeared last week when in under three minutes, the body had recommended former Department of Agriculture undersecretary Berna Puyat’s confirmation as the new Department of Tourism secretary, following the resignation of the controversial Wanda Teo.
But while we did need to be reminded why Ms. Puyat is the best person for the Tourism post, we wouldn’t have minded a little pizzazz in those statements, a little lighthearted prose—especially in the stuffy atmosphere of the senate halls.
Which brings us to Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto’s lyrical endorsement which we really, really liked.
“The nominee might probably break the Commission record as to the number of endorsement speeches,” the lawmaker began.
In his speech, Ate Vi’s hubby made waves when he introduced Secretary Bernadette Tecson Romulo Puyat as his chosen nominee for the Secretary of Tourism post. And he did so in a mildly humorous, tongue-in-cheek fashion.
“She is one Tourism secretary who can also be the national poster girl for tourism.
“As you can see, she has the face that could launch a thousand cruise ships. And I say that with authority, having been married to the original Eskinol girl.”
We can almost imagine Ate Vi waving her lace hanky in approval.
The senator went on to expound on the brains in the beauty—“for that is what matters most”—Puyat’s notable career achievements and accolades, from her stint at the DA (Department of Agriculture), her effort to make time to teach fiscal policy for two decades in Diliman, her efforts in fostering the exchange of culinary expertise between Madrid and the Philippines via the yearly Madrid Fusion.
He even managed to throw in a few jabs at infamous DOT characters from the most recent past while talking about Puyat’s advantage and achievements.
“For one, I know that this professor—and practitioner—of fiscal discipline will not go into the carinderia business, despite the spectacular success of her farm-to-table, Manila-to-Madrid gastronomical projects which allowed the world's leading food writers to savor Filipino culinary masterpieces and their readers to salivate for them,” said the senator. “She will not waste her time and our money in cooking up useless gimmicks which will only trigger a turo-turo or finger-pointing frenzy among the cooks.
“If ever, she will wisely spend a bulk of the DOT marketing budget on the Korean, Japanese, Chinese markets or the so-called kimchi, sushi, dim sum markets, which account for 7 in 10 tourist arrivals.”
A few weeks back, Sec. Puyat drew media attention in an exclusive interview with ABS-CBN’s Henry Omaga Diaz. Unable to hold back her tears from the limelight, she expressed her dismay after having discovered the gross misuse of funds at the Department of Tourism.
Some of the DOT’s allegedly anomalous projects include expensive overseas fashion shows, numerous vacations that have been unaccounted for, and the "Buhay Carinderia" project of the Tourism Promotions Board.
Sec. Puyat’s heartfelt yet dignified outburst won the hearts of audiences on TV and social media.
“She is what is needed at a time when tourism is buffeted with [sic] many challenges, from increasing competition from abroad, to the worsening contamination of our famous beaches,” Senator Recto continued.
In the current climate where the perception of women inside or outside Philippine politics leaves much to be desired, it’s a breath of fresh air to see such a vote of confidence for this latest of our female politicos, as she begins to navigate the tricky terrain of local politics.
Berna with her father Alberto Romulo, former DFA secretary
Photographs by Paolo Pineda for the July 2017 issue of Metro Society