BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Thursday, January 18, 2007

A Day in Malacañang

The loud, piercing sound of the alarm clock mercilessly disturbed my usual journey somewhere between the ethereal and the unknown.

I kept turning it off, hoping against hope that time would freeze and allow me to continue on with my slumber. But it didn't. It was 6 a.m. and the roosters were crowing. I had no choice but to wake up or I would have to go to Malacañang by myself.

It was Wednesday and energy reporters including myself were invited to cover the signing of the Biofuels Act of 2006 at the Palace.

A van from the Department of Energy would pick us up somewhere in Quezon City at 8 a.m. and bring us to Malacañang in time for the 10 a.m. ceremony. Whoever misses the ride would have to go to Manila by himself.

And so, still half asleep, I steeled myself to prepare for the day's coverage. Such a hassle, I thought bitterly knowing that the law had actually been signed a week ago. The coverage was just a ceremonial signing or ironically, just a media event.

Two hours later, we were at the entrance for a thorough security check similar to what they have in airports. And there, the hassles became so much worst.

One colleague, who absent mindedly wore jeans that day, had been refused entry. There is a strict dress code in Malacañang as most in the industry know. He had to go home again to change.

Minutes later, a female colleague experienced the same thing. She had to rush to Quiapo to buy slacks.

Another colleague wearing proper attire, on the other hand, was not on the guest list and thus, had been refused entry too. Several calls later, she was able to resolve the problem.

It's not easy going to Malacañang but it is so much harder to get in.

I didn't have much of a problem except for the fact that in my haste, I wore my pants inside out. It was so embarrassing! Yes, believe it or not, the label on the back was sticking out for the world to see. Almost. Fortunately, I was wearing black leggings that day and a long top which concealed the problem.

By 12, after listening to officials rave about the Biofuels bill, watching government officials and businessmen praise President Arroyo and interviewing them for what they have to say, I felt exhausted.

A few minutes later, we were out of the hulking white building and back to the real world.