BAGUIO CITY (via Bayantel), November 21, 2003  (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo exhorted advertising professionals and experts yesterday to help influence and convince Filipinos to heed her administrationís calls for reforms and reconciliation.

"With your overwhelming influence on the Filipino mind, with your ability to move people into thinking, to action, and even to battle if need be, you can make every Filipino believe in his heart that our history, far from ending, is giving itself a fresh start," she told delegates to the 18th Philippine Advertising Congress, which started last Wednesday at Camp John Hay in Baguio City. The President, in her keynote speech before the congress delegates, asked them to "work with me on this fresh start. Help me push for reforms and reconciliation in our country. And to me, a fresh start, deep reforms, unity and reconciliation, that is the greatest idea of all but you are the ones who can move people to make that great idea come true."

She added that Filipinos "must be relentless in the pursuit of reconciliation" in order to survive.

Mrs. Arroyo told advertising, marketing and media industry leaders who attended the congress that by increasing marketing activities, helping boost consumer confidence and stimulating commerce, they will influence the growth of the economy. "You are so powerful. Not only do you influence confidence, you can influence the pace of the economy. You are more powerful than we have imagined. And in a way you are more powerful than any presidency," she said. "It has been said that presidents are only elected by men, but creative people like you are the truly anointed."

The President welcomed the offer by the congress delegates to contribute their own "great ideas" on how to push the countryís economic development through advertising and marketing the Philippines abroad as an investment and tourist destination. "But for you to create the grand ideas, I must give you the materials without the pizzazz. But pizzazz is not my job, thatís yours," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo said her experience as president for the past two and a half years taught her that the country needs five "fundamental reforms," which she vowed to continue to implement in office, subtly alluding to her presidential bid for the 2004 polls. "My learning curve of the past two and a half years of the presidency has taught me we need five fundamental reforms: reforming the market, reforming agriculture, reforming our social assets, reforming our bureaucracy, and reforming our protective institutions," she said.

The President noted with satisfaction the huge turnout of this yearís congress that organizers, led by ABS-CBN president and CEO Eugenio Lopez III, told her was an "indicator" of a better business climate in the country. She said this means business in the Philippines is getting more brisk. "In the last two and a half years, this once basket case of Asia is posting a growth rate that is sixth overall among the 21 economies of the Asia-Pacific region. This year, in particular, is our highest growth since the Asian (economic crisis struck in) 1997," Mrs. Arroyo said.

However, she lamented anew that the people with whom she wants to reconcile were spurning her reconciliation efforts.

"I recognize that this is a country of intelligent people but why are we miserable? Is it because we delight in the things that divide us more than the things that unite us?" the President said. She attributed the presence of too much negativism and conflict in Philippine society to social and political divisions that exist in the country, stressing that "we need to heal these divisions."

STAR publisher and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte chairs this yearís ad congress PR & publicity committee.

Arroyo: Healing cannot wait  (from MALAYA, November 21, 2003)

President Arroyo yesterday said the country must pursue reconciliation "no matter how impossible it looks."

"There is too much negativism and conflict in our society and I attribute much of these to social and political divisions ... We need to heal those deep divisions," she told participants at the opening of the 18th Advertising Congress in Baguio city.

Arroyo said the Philippines continues to be miserable because "we delight in things that divide us."

She said that to achieve "closure" to the issues dividing the country, "there must be permanent peace in Mindanao and the Communist insurgency must stop."

But she admitted the most difficult is to "find a closure to the divisions between Edsa 2 and Edsa 3."

Arroyo called on the participants to work with her in fostering unity and economic development by creating a "Brand Philippines" with her administration's achievements as "material."

"Work with me on this fresh start change and unity. To me, a fresh start, deep reform, unity, and reconciliation - that is the greatest idea of all," she said. (Regina Bengco)

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

All rights reserved