I should have posted this as early as Wednesday morning but I had a few problems uploading my pictures. I didn’t want the week to end, however, without giving you an update of what I’ve been up to. Most memorable of the events of my life this week is Mr. Al Gore’s visit to Manila and his two-hour talk at the SMX Convention Center last Tuesday before an audience of 4000 people.
I went with my husband to the event, my presence at this much talked-about occasion courtesy of a gold ticket my husband bought for me as a very early birthday present. When he informed me that BusinessWorld had a partnership to the event with SM Prime and that tickets were to be given to employees, I asked him to buy me one. It wasn’t hard to convince my husband to shell out money for this ticket — okay, I was not above begging for it and my puss-in-boots baby eyes technique worked its magic, heehee — after all, when it comes to environmental issues, he knew that I was Compost Queen of his household.
I primped up bright and early that day. My hairdresser friend of many years, Rose of David’s Salon in SMNE Annex, went to work on her day-off just to give me a decent haircut and blow dry. (I can’t say thank you enough, Rose. You made me feel half-human again. I wished I had enough time for the whole make-up and hair thing.) By noon, I was dressed and ready for the four o’clock event.
I had looked through my wardrobe the day before, looking for something befitting the event. I was set to don a black and silver ensemble matched with a pair of sensible heels, but since I knew I would be commuting home, I opted to wear something less dressy. Much, much less dressy. I donned my favorite yellow Tubby princess top (I call it that because the sleeves remind me so much of a princess’ dress), a pair of stretch Marks & Spencer white jeans, and what else? My Hello Kitty Cayman Crocs with H&M Hello Kitty socks, of course! I picked up a yellow shawl to match the yellow in my blouse, as well as the yellow in the new Hello Kitty pouch bag I got on sale from my Multiply friend Ruth. Why do I even mention what I was wearing? Please bear with me, dear reader, as I tell you the whole story. Just a little addendum, though: when I got to the venue, I realized I was a yellow in a sea of conformist black.
It proved to be an enlightening hour and a half as Mr. Gore talked us through an Asian version of his “An Inconvenient Truth.” Having watched his DVD many times, I was familiar with much of his spiel. Even his warm-up remarks were down pat:
“Hello, I’m Al Gore and I used to be the next president of the United States.” People chuckle.
“I don’t think that’s funny,” Mr. Gore deadpans.
And yet, I found my eyes watering and tearing up when pictures of the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana) were shown, as well as the devastation brought about by this year’s prolonged dry season in many parts of Asia. It takes a hard heart to turn away from Mr. Gore’s message — that the environment is more than a political or financial or technological issue, it is also a moral issue as the decisions made by this generation will have such a profound effect on all future generations.
Mr. Gore struck me as sincere and very down to earth. When the Q&A anchor, Ms. Cheche Lazaro, baited him into responding to a veiled question on his recent personal life (we all have heard the news of his separation from his wife of 40 years, Tipper), he simply refused to speak about it. There was no politicking and no showbiz razzmatazz for this advocate. He came to speak his heart, and he did.
Remember how I told you that I was a yellow in a sea of black? And that this yellow ensemble was not only casual but matched with Crocs? This was how I was dressed when I met ex-Vice President Al Gore in person. The only Crocs-wearing person in a whole room of dressed-to-the-nines people. I hope the official photographer took a full-body shot that night. I want to cross-post this picture in the Crocs Philippines Facebook page. 🙂
I wasn’t supposed to be there. I knew I was going home right after the talk, and indeed, I had already found a ride home. But lo and behold, a last minute cancellation happened and the opportunity fell on my lap! I was so happy I danced a jig! Who could say no to a photo op and dinner with the man himself?
Dinner was fabulous and oh-so-tasty. Sponsored by SM Prime and Unilever, the dinner presented by Sofitel Executive Chef Marko Rankel was ingeniously Filipino and yet remarkably international in flavor. I loved every bit of my entrée, soup, main course and dessert that I cleaned out my plate each time and looked over lovingly at my husband’s plate every now and then. I was sending him mental vibes to share his dinner with me, but of course, he couldn’t, this being a formal dinner and all. One more good thing- since I was the only female in the table, I was served first always! Yay!
There was also entertainment during dinner, pr0vided by some of our country’s best performers: Ms. Kuh Ledesma, Ms. Menchu Lauchengco and Mr. Audie Gemora. They filled the ballroom with Filipino songs of love and love for nature and were widely applauded at the end of each song. I could not help but sing along with them as my heart puffed up with Filipino pride.
I got to take closer pictures of Mr. Gore before and during dinner. I didn’t attempt to take a picture during his formal speech because I’m a stickler for following rules and the rules said, absolutely no photos. Too bad, there were still those who defied this and snapped away, their cameras flashing rudely in the darkened room.
I absolutely loved this close encounter with one of my personal heroes. Taking away lessons from that day, I feel compelled more than ever to keep doing my bit to make my carbon footprint smaller each day. My contributions might be a tiny drop in the bucket of life, but inspired by Mr. Gore, I am confident that these tiny drops will eventually make an ocean.
Bravo, Mr. Gore! Thank you for this life-changing experience!