GMA’s $20,000 Dinner at Le Cirque in New York?!?

Actually, the nearly PHP1 million peso dinner bothers me JUST slightly less than the fact that GMA’s party all sat down to the meal (most probably) after the news that President Corazon Aquino had passed away had shocked the nation and already reverberated to Filipinos around the globe.

Yes, I have personally indulged in some of life’s luxuries over the years. I will admit to copper fish pans, a weekend home, holiday travel, good food and wine… But I worked hard, earned my money in private employment, and saved and invested wisely. BUT I AM NOT, AND NEVER WANT TO BE AN ELECTED PUBLIC OFFICIAL. In this reported case, these are public officials in a nation where some 95% of ALL OF THE FAMILIES IN THE ENTIRE ARCHIPELAGO EARN LESS THAN PHP1 MILLION PER YEAR! And yes, I think THAT distinction of being public officials and leaders of a country with so much poverty DOES make a world of difference. If a public official cannot live simply, then they should at least make every effort not to do anything to betray or insult their constituents’ intelligence and sensibilities. They made the CHOICE to run for public office. To SERVE their constituents. YES, they should have a HIGHER STANDARD to uphold. What ever happened to delicadeza? Appearances? Common sense?

The New York Post, on the infamous gossipy page 6, published this tidbit on GMA and party enjoying a dinner at Le Cirque, in New York, with a total bill of roughly $20,000 or PHP960,000. But more than just a gossip item, it seems that Ellen Tordesillas, a journalist, has confirmed that the dinner did occur, and that Press Secretary Cerge Remonde was present. Apparently, as you can read on Ms. Tordesillas’s blog, the dinner was at the invitation of Congressman Martin Romualdez of Leyte, obviously another Filipino public servant/official. Manolo Quezon III already has a post about this, and I am sure dozens of bloggers and thousands of commenters will send messages flying over the next day or two, so there is already much being written, discussed, criticized, etc. about the dinner that took place — they’re all worth reading if you are the type who still cares at all. MLQIII writes that the dinner was on the occasion of the First Couple’s 41st wedding anniversary.

So why shouldn’t approximately 28 members of a Presidential party on a foreign trip indulge in a PHP960,000 dinner? Because it is INSENSITIVE. Period. And when word of such a lavish meal hits the blogs, press, common citizen, it leaves a foul taste in the mouth. But you know what really leaves a foul taste in MY mouth, it’s that this particular meal was MOST PROBABLY enjoyed when everyone at that dinner party knew former President Aquino had just died…

Here is my timeline, gleaned from the press, and I admit, I do NOT know this for a fact, I am just analyzing second hand sources:

July 28, Tuesday: The day after the State of the Nation Address. President Arroyo and party depart on an afternoon flight for Vancouver, switching to a chartered PAL flight to Washington, DC, according to local newspapers. They arrive in Washington late afternoon or evening of July 28th as Washington is now 12 hours earlier than Manila.
July 29, Wednesday: Around 4 p.m. President Arroyo meets with President Obama for half an hour in the oval office, followed by a press conference. Later that evening, President Arroyo and party return to the Willard Hotel in Washington and she records some press interviews.
July 31, Friday: President Arroyo is advised that President Aquino has died at around 4pm, Washington time. At roughly 430pm Washington time, President Arroyo meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the Willard Hotel in Washington, according to press reports. She presumably departed for New York either the evening of Friday, the 31st of July or Saturday morning, 1 August 2009.
Aug 2, Sunday: President Arroyo reportedly “offers mass” at 10am Sunday New York time for President Aquino, but Archbishop Timothy Dolan, according to the Inquirer also mentions from the pulpit that the high mass was also to celebrate President Arroyo’s 41st anniversary.
August 3, Monday: President Arroyo reportedly departs New York for San Francisco late afternoon.

Why am I so concerned with the timeline in New York? Because I was curious WHEN the $20,000 meal was enjoyed. The article in the NY post, published August 7, said the dinner was enjoyed “the other night,” so it must have been technically inaccurate. If my timeline makes sense, there are only three possible nights for this dinner:

Friday, 31 July — If GMA left immediately after her meeting with Secretary of State Clinton for New York, she could conceivably attended a late dinner at Le Cirque as reported, but this date is highly unlikely. But if it was this evening, they already knew President Aquino had passed away a few hours before. (NOTE: Press Secretary Cerge Remonde confirms in a report in the Inquirer late Sunday 9 August that they enjoyed a LATE DINNER after arriving from Washington on Friday 31 July — That means they were at the meal some 6 hours after President Aquino passed away).
Saturday, 1 August or Sunday, 2 August — MY BEST GUESS of when the $20,000 meal took place. So in either case, they were eating an extravagant meal and reportedly drinking it up KNOWING President Aquino had already passed away. Worse, they either ate the meal the NIGHT BEFORE they so publicly offered up or “shared” their mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, or can I say even worse again, they enjoyed the meal later on Sunday JUST HOURS AFTER they went to mass at St. Patrick’s??

Yes, I am personally outraged. Yes, I am upset that several dozen Philippine government officials had the chutzpah to sit at a meal at Le Cirque for the reported cost and the timing of the meal. WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO DELICADEZA?

Apparently, Press Secretary Remonde stated in a text to Ms. Tordesillas that Malacanang definitely did NOT pay for the bill. So I guess that begs the question of WHO DID pay the bill? Was it paid for by Representative Romualdez, who apparently invited the Presidential party to dinner? And if that was so, was it really appropriate for a Philippine congressman to invite other government officials to a pricey dinner to celebrate a private or personal milestone such as a wedding anniversary? Doesn’t that somehow constitute a GIFT or BENEFIT of some sort that the public officials present in essence accepted? And this dinner reportedly run roughly PHP35,000 per person, so it would have been a substantial gift if that was the case… And if the good Congressman did pay for the restaurant bill on his own, doesn’t it seem at least a bit indelicate or inappropriate, given that at his position in government, he officially earns roughly PHP534,000 in salary per annum, according to the official state pay scales that I unearthed, here. (Those pay scales were adjusted in 2007 to roughly PHP534,000 per annum for a Congressman, and PHP762,000 for the President). That would mean that it would take nearly 2 years worth of his salary to pay for the meal. Duh, of course I know many Congressmen are independently wealthy long before they run for Congress, and he or any other person in the dinner party could certainly have paid for this out of their personal funds, but it still leaves a foul taste in one’s mouth, don’t you think? Even if the President paid for dinner, she would have to spend more than a year’s official wages to pay for the meal. To make a similar comparison, I wonder if Americans would get as upset if President Obama took his wife out for an anniversary dinner and spent $500,000 of their own money at a restaurant dinner for 30 people (U.S. Presidential salary estimated at $400,000 per annum)??? For propriety and appearances alone, wouldn’t it be best practice to avoid these lavish dinners, which to me, are essentially GIFTS? On the other hand, one can definitely say this was just a nice meal, enjoyed on a special occasion, paid for from private funds, but definitely involving currently sitting government officials. Hmmm.

And on a practical side, how was the dinner paid for? Credit card? Cash? Oddly, if it was paid for in cash, then someone presumably took out a wad of dollar bills and counted out the reported $20,000 for the server. Did that person bring the cash from Manila, and did he or she declare that they entered the US with more than $10,000 in currency and negotiable instruments? “Oh, Marketman,” I hear many of you groan, haven’t you heard of ATM’s? Then if the cash was withdrawn from an ATM in the U.S. (which would have taken some 20 days if from a single account due to daily limits), I wonder if the owner of that ATM account declared that particular deposit account in their statement of assets and liabilities, assuming the account owner was a Philippine public official… So you see, we DON’T REALLY KNOW the facts, but no matter how one looks at this, it still leaves a foul taste in one’s mouth.

At best, it was poor judgement and insensitive for nearly 30 senior government officials to partake in a lavish meal to celebrate a personal milestone while on an official trip to the U.S., particularly when 95% of Filipinos have little or no hope of being able to EVER afford such a meal AND when a well-loved icon of Philippine democracy and humility and public service and a former President had just passed away. At worst, well, I could write on and on and on. But I will leave it for each individual reader to come to their own conclusions. It will be interesting to see how Palace spokespeople will explain this latest PR fiasco in the days ahead.

Note: If you choose to leave a comment on this post, please keep it above the belt, okay? Or I will simply delete it. Thanks.


164 Responses

  1. I recently commented on a FB friend’s page that one need not cite Arroyo’s shortcomings to highlight Cory’s achievements. Her probity, I wrote, can stand on its own. I just read MLQ III’s post about this and I thought, in the the same vein, one need not site Cory’s probity to highlight Arroyo’s lack thereof. Likewise, her unscrupulousness can stand on its own.

  2. Hi MM,

    Thank you for this post. Outrageous is an understatement. Just a couple of fyi: On July 28, you wrote President Aquino departed for Vancouver. I think you meant Pres. Arroyo. And in your timeline, (7th to the last paragraph) you wrote, Friday, 31 August, instead of July. Sorry, I didn’t mean to proofread, force of habit, I suppose.

  3. Salaries of officials may be small but they have RATA. I was told that it’s a special allocation they use to “entertain” guests and other “related” activities. I am not sure…Maybe someone from DBM or someone who is close to an official may verify the source, use and accountability for the RATA of a government official.

  4. I think you raised the most valid point: the insensitivity displayed by GMA and her entourage in enjoying such lavish dinner in the face of hunger and poverty in our country, and right after the death of a previous president to whom GMA is very much indebted. Who footed the bill doesn’t really matter. In our area, by the way, it’s now common for farm folks (for lack of money) to have boiled ‘saba’ bananas for lunch and dinner, alternately with ‘camote’ and ‘camoteng kahoy’; no rice or viand at all. Recall also that episode in a TV program some months ago documenting the lives of hundreds of Metro Manila residents surviving by scavenging on leftovers of fastfood shops thrown in garbage bins. This is Arroyonomics at work.

  5. a footage was shown of an abs-cbn news correspondent who asked hillary clinton (who was leaving the hotel) if she had anything to say on the passing of former pres. cory aquino, and hillary clinton was visibly taken aback. she exclaimed, “oh she is? i didn’t know…” somebody mentioned that this was after her meeting with gloria arroyo, which meant arroyo didn’t even bother mentioning it to clinton during their meeting.

  6. i saw that news clip of mrs. clinton and she was really upset of being informed (caught off-guard) in the streets, that former pres. aquino just passed away…

    now, if that really happened AFTER meeting with GMA, and she already knew about it, then it really says something about her….tsk.tsk…

  7. I may not say anything about that “DINNER” they swarmed while on a state visit or whatever but the timing is trully unpleasant. 98% of filipinos worldwide are mourning while the leaders are splurging on extravagance. its like a kind of celebration for something thought its my speculation only…Mind you that YES,,,many filipinos are hungry and having 3 plates of food a day is a luxury to consider.And to these leaders,they may say that they have money to spend,,,but that reason may not be appropriate otherwise they should not run as government officials!..Many of us here are ofcourse doing the same as what they are but the money we spend is from our sweat!….

  8. this is not the first time MM… my best buddy and i were dining @ a famous NY steakhouse (one you have featured in a previous blog/post)last 2 july when our waiter volunteered the info that he “had the privilege of serving two Philippine presidents- one was the actor and the other was the present president” when prodded for details he said the lady president was with a large group of about 50. I wonder who paid the bill… mga mamamayang Pilipino siguro :-(

  9. that’s just incredibly upsetting. i sure hope she came home with pasalubongs for our fellow country men that are starving and living of off scraps found in dumpsters.

  10. $20,000 for dinner! And to think Filipinos are in the brink of of dying of hunger!K*p*l naman!!!! So that’s where our taxes went :-( very sad……..

  11. perhaps as president of the phils, mrs. arroyo might have certain privileges but the indecent amount of money involved is just too much, almost a million pesos for dinner alone???outrageous!! sobra na talaga ito!

  12. I love the Phils but I truly wish/hope that our leaders would shape up or be replaced by those with sincere intentions for uplifting the lives or our countrymen. I wonder if I will live to see this and I’m only in my 30’s. That bill would’ve supported a LOT of feeding programs in public schools.

  13. The insult of all insults. While I was watching President Cory’s funeral on TV, one of the things that came to my mind is that GMA’s funeral will NEVER be like President Cory’s.

  14. Delicadeza, delicadeza, delicadeza. This trait is now, unfortunately, rare amongst most people in our nation, in or out of government. The ostentatious display of wealth is a national pastime. It is outrageous when a government official accepts a “gift” and thinks nothing about it “kasi hindi naman ninakaw”.
    Reminds me of Erap and son accepting bayongs of cash from jueteng lords…and Erap justifying accepting it as he deposits it to a certain fund for the marginalized.

    Granted that this dinner was a gift from someone else, it is inappropriate to accept it period. Being the president of a country where people eat camote as their main course is insensitive to say the least.

    The sad thing is I’m not surprised.

  15. At about the same time as the le cirque ‘let them eat cake’ dinner- Mrs Obama took her two kids out for a burger dinner.

  16. they should have taken an extra dish… callos… sounds so eerily similar to the insensitivity demonstrated…

  17. i completely sympathize and do agree with the sentiments behind the rant in general. but i just want to point out that obama did in fact recently go on a date with his wife, using air force one to have dinner and see a show in nyc — total cost was estimated to be $1 MILLION. for a date, not an anniversary. and it IS out of taxpayer money, directly, not out of private funds. and there was only a minor outcry in the press…

    i suppose it’s a little bit of a non sequitur, but partly because the obama comparison was invoked in the post — and partly food for thought…

  18. oops, my bad — i guess it wasn’t air force one, but the presidential helicopter… same idea, regardless.

  19. It’s the same here in the U.S.- a while back the heads of the U.S. Car makers like GM, Ford and Chrysler we scolded by Congress because they used their corporate jets to fly to Washington, D.C. Well just last week Congress appropriated 3 new corporate jets for themselves. When will elected officials realize because of the recession that a lot of are loosing their jobs and houses. I think we are getting the bad side of democracy – which is greed. Obama, is no different a lot of Americans are realizing that he is all talk and it’s back to politics as usual.

    Did the First Gentleman pay for the tip of $3,600?

  20. GMA better watch out, as the spirit of EDSA 1 is so alive right now as we saw on the funeral of Tita Cory. We don’t want another revolution but if there’s no other way. Enough is enough !

  21. Oh MM, the Filipino taxpayers didn’t pay for the bill…yet. The officials still have to reimburse it when they do their accounting. Also, some (or is it all?) of the Office of the President’s budget aren’t audited by COA so we’ll never know the entire truth about the celebratory dinner. Baka despedida dinner na nila yun or is that just wishful thinking?

  22. I’d like to know how Malacanang explains this. It just goes to show that being in politics is a lucrative career for many back home.

  23. well, if I am hosting the anniversary of the president of the Philippines and I am a millionaire, probably, I would have spent more. I would do the same for Obama. A typical Filipino I am, hospitable to a fault. But I will make sure there is no nosy journalist around. So if I become a millionaire and you the president of the Philippines, call me and I’ll treat you.

  24. Picture Nero fiddling while Rome burns.

    I hope we never ever get sensitized to the culture of greed, consumption and corruption. Where is EDSA people power?

  25. How many hungry mouths will this feed?
    How many small businesses will this money generate?
    Makes you sick to think about it doesn’t it?

  26. Zena, I do agree with you, it hurts to see children go to school on empty stomach, and even more that some of them become scavengers after school just to haunt for food instead of doing their homework. That amount of money spent on a lavish dinner will help alot of school age hungry kids. I hope someday we will have politicians who will really look after the welfare of their constituents. At sana matuloy and wishful thinking ni Iris. :)

  27. Like I told my friends… it’s a matter of delicadeza. Let’s assume for a moment that whoever paid the bill did so with clean, honestly earned money. Let’s also keep in mind that for a party of 27 to 30 people, a $20,000 bill at Le Cirque is high but not astronomical. Even so, the fact that these people are public officials of a poor country smacks of utter insensitivity. “Walang delicadeza” describes them to a tee. It’s as if they were all channeling Marie Antoinette. Disgusting.

  28. Well, fried-neurons, what do you expect from a @$#@! who had xxxxxx xxxx xxxx xxx? “Walang delicadeza” was right on target and my sentiments exactly…Hey, marketman, you rule!!!!

  29. Wait a minute. Let’s start with the chartered flight. If they flew commercial from Manila to Vancouver, why did they have to charter the PAL plane for the rest of the flight? Why could’t they have taken commercial all the way? I say this because this was just a visit between Arroyo and Obama. This was not even a state visit.

  30. I find this disturbing. It’s fine and good to have a private dinner to celebrate their anniversary with a few close friends but 30 seems excessive and smacks of one of those Roman orgies one reads about in musty books. As for where the funds came from, I wonder how easy it would be to simply use a diplomatic pouch for this?

  31. It was inappropriate considering the fact that the gov’t has not done a good job with its poverty alleviation programs. Period.

    I chose not to relate it with the death of someone…as it’s our personal choice. :)

  32. Yes, indeed, Marketman…..whatever happened to DELICADEZA?It’s the same thing with the brouhaha on National Artists….Ms.Cecile Guidote Alverez, head of NCCA(committee choosing National Artist awardees) awarding HERSELF as one of the National Artist this year!
    And also that of the recent Willie Revillame Wowowee episode wherein while it was airing, on the right side of the screen was being shown the live coverage of Cory Aquino’s cortege(see link):

    OMG!……Where’s the Filipino Delicadeza we were once so proud of????Tsk!tsk!tsk! :(

  33. Artisan, my guess is that there was a commercial PAL flight to Vancouver. But to get to Washington DC, they continued on a PAL plane or a chartered plane rather than fly on a commercial flight. Some folks have emailed me that the date of the dinner was Friday 31 July, but the Philippine Daily Inquirer today, which has this as their top headline story, reports that the dinner was enjoyed on Sunday 2 August 2009. m, I agree, all global leaders need to be sensitive. But in the Obama date dinner, did he bring along 30 senior politicians and spend for a lavish dinner with them? I think not. While I think folks would balk at using the state helicopter for a getaway dinner, as president, he is entitled to safe fast transport… Izang and dizzy, your comments are upsetting in the sense that IF President Arroyo DID know Cory had passed away and failed to mention it to the U.S. Secretary of State less than an hour later, talk about insensitive?!?

  34. filcanadian boy, sorry, I had to delete some of your comments to keep this above the belt. But I must say, I was personally rolling on the floor laughing with your comment in its original form.

  35. I agree with all the comments above. It was insensitive to the recent death of Mrs. Aquino, it was well beyond a conspicuous display of extravagance, and it was insensitive to the economic condition of a huge majority of starving Filipinos.

    I assume that the president went to Washington to beg for foreign aid. If she and/or her cohorts can afford this over-the top dinner at Le Cirque, would the US be inclined to give such aid? Disingenuous, if you ask me.

  36. P1 million for a dinner for 28 people seems nothing compared to what president’s kids and in-laws spend just for fashion. P1 million for handbags can be spent without even thinking twice. Look at their watches, jewelry and clothing and you will know what kind of lifestyle they lead. Just look at Mikey’s watches in past interviews and you will know why they so dearly want to cling to power. Mikey now has 2 houses in San Francisco, one overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. His kids spend their whole summers there in the US, courtesy of either taxpayer money or jueteng largesse. I should know a little about these things since by some misfortune, we are related.

  37. I will be very much offended if I read on the paper my President and her entourage eating hot dogs out of the street carts food in New York for dinner and lunch – very telling to the world we are in deep trouble. They went overboard with their wines and caviars. They went out of tune on this dinner! I assume Congressman Martin Romualdez picked up the check for this dinner. It was through his gracious invitation they ended up there and my assumption the Congressman is much related to Makoy his wife is a Romualdez so birds of the same feather flocks together. Like the saying goes “no such free lunch.” There is a catch on this dinner. I speculate the young Romualdez is brokering some kind of fishy government project that needs the signature of the Lady President. Obviously, we have democratic form of government but corruption is deeply rooted in our government. We need to amend our Constitution where there will be a transparent clear as a crystal way of governing – checks and balance must be met at all times. Senator should come from each region of the archipelago. Not the entire country electing their senators. The populous region should be represented by two senators to contain their campaign expenses (senator will campaign through that region only not the entire archipelago). Cut down the number of congressman from each region. No bills have been passed that protects Tio Pepe and Tia Juana’s interests in particular. Adapt what the Chinese government do with their corrupt public officers. After their tribunal gathered all their fact findings and evidence was established that he/she committed corruption they execute the corrupt public servant right away. Pronto. The Chinese tribunal do their fact findings in a short period of time. No time wasted. I know, I know the Chinese are communists and we are democratic just to set the right precedent so others will not follow their trail.
    We should have social program like the welfare program they have in America. Legalized gambling and appropriate tax be imposed and use the gambling taxed money to fund our social programs that will include housing, foods and medical care for our poor citizens. Religion should not be involved with the government. Religion/Church should not decide the outcome of our election which to me cripples our freedom of election. In short, family planning should be put in the agenda and create a government branch to carry out family planning function by educating the masa, give the women a choice of contraception and make men responsible for fathering or spreading their wings. If men cannot afford to feed their kids then give them option on how to not have babies. Long story short control the population since it is the root of our social problems and poverty!

  38. President Arroyo and former President Estrada were principal sponsors (one of 18 pairs!!) in the wedding of the daughter of Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia to Mayor Frasco of Liloan,Cebu last night. According to Press Secretary Remonde, President Arroyo did not attend the reception in observance of her declaration of 10 days of national mourning for the death of former president Corazon Aquino. (I say…Ya right!!!)

  39. Delicadeza died generations ago, during the time of my lolo. Those were days when he arrived at work first and left last. As a public servant with integrity in the 70s, he saved much of his pork. He famously distributed all he saved among staff the day before marcos abolished the senate because he knew no one would get separation pay. He took into private business those whom he could afford to hire. And he always paid for his own lunch!

  40. the dinner was most likely on aug 2, aug 1 they had a party with select members of the Fil Community in NJ…Fri, July 31, they got in around 8pm….I surmised it’s on Aug 2, supposedly during their 41st wedding anniversary. According to the blog, there were about 25 people in their party who had the set menu/chef menu, plus they ordered caviar and 10 bottled of $500 champagne. It’s really disgusting. Good thing it’s her last year in office.

  41. Fast track to heaven…

    HBO documentary:

    Le Cirque: A Table in Heaven


    Btw, for a taste of heaven…


    …and danilo suarez and amelita villarosa “did not want to make much of the affair” (from inquirer).

  42. Yes MM…so disgusting!!! Hope her term ends and no extensions!!!! *#@*”;##

  43. nyc and others, the THEORETICAL bill in MLQIII’s blog is just that, THEORETICAL. I don’t think anyone knows what was actually ordered that evening except for the guests and the restaurant managers. It amazes me how some information can be so readily misinterpreted. The Philippine Star already quotes the 11 bottles of champagne and price, but I must stress, the sample bill was THEORETICAL.

  44. May I just point out a provision in the Civil Code of the Philippines under the section on Human Relations:

    “Art. 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.”


  45. I am horrified and disgusted just like you. Yes, I too have indulged myself on food, wine and other trappings of luxury but the difference is -WE ARE NOT PUBLICLY ELCTED OFFICIALS OF A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY!!! And that makes all the difference – enough said. Don’ they teach this in Becoming a Government Official 101 ? ha ha…

    It is not uncommon for Philippine Government officials paying cash on their trips abroad- have seen it a few times in Hong Kong and you should see what they spend there on their handbags! It’s come to a point where you can’t throw a rock in manila without hitting a politician or their wife carrying a million peso bag! And again, a private citizen can do whatever they want with their hard earned money but a public servant has no business!!!! Don’t even get me started with this blatant display of impropriety and lack of delicadeza! For this to have happened during President Cory’s wake (the must humble and simplest of individuals) is just shameless.

    The page 6 article in He NY Post obviously is very significant- quite obviously. Even foreign journalists had their eyebrows raised at this little dinner party and what it represented- “third world country president living it up at Le CIrque” how could they be so insensitive- ay! I need to take my BP medicine now!

  46. delicadeza? hiya? common sense? GMA has none of these. if she had any, she would step down and stop shaming this country and its people.

  47. thanks MM for the warning that you are going to delete below the belt post.. i could have said something so demeaning and so bad because of my rage… first, that they had an outrageously extravagant meal but the with your assumption of when it actually took placed, that is so disgusting and so insensitive! she proves a couple of times that she is worst president that this country had ever had.. i could not say elected because she was not elected by the people.. she cheated last election and was appointed by the supreme court when erap was ousted..

  48. Now Malacanang defends itself by saying it wasn’t really a party but just lunch, which makes it the more scandalous because of the sizeable bill. That congressman goes with GMA on almost all of the foreign trips and he is now being dubbed as the 3rd son. I feel so sorry for us Filipinos but this fiasco couldn’t have come at a better time. Gising ang mga Pilipino ngayon at siguro ay mapapabilis nito ang pagbagsak nilang lahat.

  49. i still believe in karma—leaders of the world have more to pay back than ordinary folks like us.
    I am quite affected by the story of one commenter about Mrs. Hillary Clinton’s reaction toward the death of Pres. Cory Aquino. If the sequence of the story goes that Arroyo intentionally/unintentionally failed to mention it to her then I can see utter human-ness about Arroyo—envy, etc. That this story about the $20 thou dinner overrides her “state visit” to Obama is also a sign that she’s considered not at all the national leader that we had just buried.

  50. someone sent me the bill, which indicated each item ordered by Gloria Arroyo, her husband and their party, the corresponding price per item and the total bill ($19,000 plus)which was supposedly paid by Congressman Martin Romualdez. Inquirer reached him when Palace Press Secretary Remonde, scrambling to exercise damage control after the New York Post Page Six item reached Manila (gads, did they think they’d be able to play this kind of thing down??), gave Romualdez’s name as purportedly the person who picked up the bill. When asked to deny or confirm this matter, Romualdez did not answer the question; rather, he told the Inquirer person he couldn’t talk because he was with some people and promised to call back; of course he never did..

  51. teddy, make sure the bill is NOT the “hypothetical bill” that MLQIII put on his blog. I read that to mean it was a SAMPLE bill, not the actual bill. And if it is right that it was a S20,000 LUNCH and not dinner, on August 2, Sunday, just two hours after mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral “offered” for President Aquino… that is truly despicable, in my personal opinion.

  52. Given that Martin Romualdez paid for the dinner, where did he get his money? Martin is the second son of Kokoy, sister of IRM!

    He has this beautiful manse in Forbes Park in a one hectare lot. Now, he wants to buy the house next door owned by the Sultan of Brunei, only it is not for sale?

    He was the same one who paid off Ted Failon not to run for re-election so that he could get the post.

    Where, pray tell, did he get all this money?

  53. As of 740pm on Sunday, 9 August, this is the latest update which quotes Press Secretary Remonde claiming the furore over the GMA dinner is highly exaggerated, in the website. At least now we know the dinner was enjoyed at Le Cirque as reported. It did involve at least two tables, though no guest count is as of yet confirmed. It was paid for by Representative Romualdez. It was consumed/imbibed LATE on Friday night, New York time at say 9-10pm (my estimate) after the party arrived from Washington, DC. Which was roughly 6 hours after the news that Cory Aquino died reached the President and her delegation. And since the government is now saying that the reports of the dinner were exaggerated and stresses that no Philippine government money was spent, then why don’t they just ask Representative Romualdez for the receipt and publish it for all interested citizens to see? Was it only $8,000 for 25 people? $12,000? $17,000? And tsk, tsk on castigating Bayan for asking for an explanation, after all, the first whiff of this story came from an American newspaper, not some BAYAN representative enjoying the tasting menu at the said restaurant on the same night… Given the answers to the poll on the issue, it seems the VAST majority of respondents thought this was a VERY INAPPROPRIATE meal to have participated in, period.

  54. I just went onto the Le Cirque website and perused their menu. At the lowest end of the spectrum, with the cheapest tasting menu (though what are the chances that everyone had the CHEAPEST three course menu?) with say one softdrink each, it’s possible to have had a meal there for say 28 people at say $120 each including taxes and service charges of say $3,360 + tip, so let’s round that up to say $3,700 or P177,600. However, it is also not beyond the realm of the possible that the total bill came closer to the NY Post reported $20,000 if several good bottles of wine or champagne were added to the tab. For that other end of the spectrum, average food costs of say $200 per person + taxes and service would mean roughly $7000 for the food, but then roughly $12,000+ for the wine. Some really spectacular bottles of wine could run theoretically $500 to $1000 each, so $20000 for the entire meal isn’t impossible. At this point, since everyone admits to the dinner, and they claim they ate modestly, then why not just show the entire bill so folks can be less stunned by what appears to be, regardless of final cost, an instance of seriously poor judgment? Have people forgotten that Erap was once criticized for the late night carousing where the preferred red wine was Chateau Petrus? A SINGLE 750ml bottle of Chateau Petrus from a particularly good recent vintage can already cost $2-3,000 at auction. So I would think folks at the center of this issue could settle it once and for all and show the public the actual receipt for the dinner. That’s one way to stop the buzz.

  55. i agree with sister-and was thinking about the choice of restaurant as well! If I had 20k to blow in NYC it wouldn’t have been at Le Cirque either!

  56. it wouldn’t surprise me if Pres GMA would be upset over Pres Cory’s demise—only because that “stole her thunder”—a reason why she didn’t mention it to Hillary during the meeting. Hah! even in death, Cory “got her”…hmmm

  57. if they are spending their money, i dont see anything wrong with having a lavish meal. that is their privilege. if it is my money, then, that is something else. i do not know why the media is making a big issue out of it. everybody does that every once in a while.

  58. Not only do I find this dinner inappropriate, it is a blatant DISRESPECT to former Pres. Cory Aquino, and more so to the Filipino people.

  59. It’s really sad to hear such insensitivity. More so whenever that fund raising ad by Tear Fund foundation that says “helping to CREATE JOBS IN THE PHILIPPINES…provide clean water for Africa…etc.” is being aired every so often on national television here in New Zealand.

    Are other nationalities more concerned than our political leaders for the welfare of our own people?

    So sad that they have lost their sense of purpose for being public servants.

  60. More details from The Daily Tribune:

    “No wonder the US reported just recently its economy is on the road to recovery.

    Big-spending Gloria and Mike were there”.

    The royal bill showed an order for 11 bottles of Krug champagne priced at $510 per bottle, Osetra caviar ($1,400 for five ounces), a “Chef’s Tasting Menu” or wine paired with a dish ($4,500 for 25 orders) and a “three-course Chef’s Seasonal Menu” ($1,450 for 25 orders).

    Appetizers included Le Cirque salad 22, lobster salad “Le Cirque” 45/58, tuna, sautéed gulf shrimp, soft shell crab tempura, spring pea soup, smoked ham hock and parmesan consomme, wild burgundy escargot and torchon foie gras.

    The main courses were paupiette of black cod, halibut poached in coconut milk, dover sole, saddle of lamb and prime dry aged strip steak.

    Also ordered was a tableside for two of three pieces of whole roasted fish worth $135 and three pieces of whole roasted chicken for $117.

    The bill totaled $15,050 plus 12 percent tax and a 20 percent tip of $3,010 brought the total to $19,866.

    That’s almost P1 million just for a dinner for Gloria and her cabal.

    Imagine how much more the plunderous couple and their merry makers spent overall for the one-week US trip.

  61. Connie C, I would CAUTION against believing the menu, as it seems to be LIFTED from MLQIII’s blog, where he clearly states it is a THEORETICAL bill. It amazes me how some news organizations pick up bits of information from the net and take them as fact and report on them. No qualifiers even like “possible bill” or “hypothetical” or “estimated”… If you go to, you will see what I mean by the HYPOTHETICAL bill.

  62. Yes I believe no gov’t dime was spent which means it did not come out of the BIR collection. Picture sacks of cash – mostly in small denominations – swapped into greenbucks in Binondo.

  63. “Ano kaya ang lasa ng kinain nila sa restaurant na yun, siguro masasarap lahat pati mga alak.”

    “Lucky Me noodles at itlog lang ang hapunan ko palagi, galing sa pinagkitaan ko ng pahahanap ng basura buong maghapon.” – says Juan Pinoy.

  64. Our public officials from the president, senators, congressmen down to our ambassadors and consuls should always show humility and frugality when abroad… since they are representing the Philippines which is a third world nation.

  65. Since when has sensitivity been a trait of GMA or her family? What did we expect?? Remember the Las Vegas Hotel bill during an early fight of Pacman that was also paid for by somebody else?? And for that matter the Hello Garci and many others.
    When you get so hungry , as sec remonde says thay just happen to walk into a restaurant , they did not know it was an expensive restaurant, they even ordered the set menu, like the ones offered in many Philippine restaurants (like the ones in Binondo, perhaps!), with sabaw and others, so what’s the big deal? he did not know the prices there, and no caviar was ordered, or maybe he did not recognize caviar, which afterall is like taba ng talangka in color unless it was black and it tasted like guinamos??? Maybe at least going to a Filipino restaurant but that would be so badoy, and they were escaping na nga the Filipino ambiance!!??to have a taste of heaven (as claimed in the Le Cirque website),dapat nga seguro try to get a sense of heaven now kasi no hope for the real one.

  66. MM,thanks for the fact check.

    How unfortunate and sad that the media cannot be relied upon for accurate information. Careless, mindless and misleading by The Daily Tribune!

  67. I find all the interviews and press releases now rather amusing. Congressman Suarez says they were as many as 50 in the party, including security and secret service. Remonde says only 15-20. Someone says simple lunch, then dinner, just before departing NY for Manila, then now it is just after arriving in NY on Friday night, the 31st. Why not stop all speculation and SHOW THE PUBLIC THE BILL? Or authorize the restaurant to publish a duplicate of the bill, with the food and wine ordered? Is that so difficult? Lito Lapid says the service was slow. Miriam, thank goodness for her “chronic fatigue syndrome,” stayed back at the hotel and probably just ordered room service. What a zoo.

  68. thanks very much for repeatedly pointing out to your readers it’s a THEORETICAL BILL!! argh. And yes, it’s amazing to see them issuing contradictory stories.

  69. The dinner itself, given the state of the economy and timing (when the entire nation is in mourning), regardless of who footed the bill, is simply extravagant, insensitive, and outrageous. No amount of explanation can justify this.

  70. Can’t help but think that GMA’s party actually celebrated the death of Pres. Aquino. Utterly distasteful.

  71. =)

    i don’t think i’ve seen nor heard of real delicadeza in decades. perhaps it’s too much to expect from the fat and corrupt? one could argue that it’s also our own fault for electing such ‘leaders’ but, then again, that our electoral process is credible is likewise a debatable point…

    to make lemonade though, we are presented with an opportunity to better ourselves as a result of this controversy. pardon me for presupposing but, i would think that cory would agree when i say that we should all practice austerity. i remember a moving (emotionally, not the harry potter-esque kind) poster that a jesuit i once knew had that read ‘live simply so that others may simply live’.

    of course, once in a while a little indulgence is good. sensitivity, as mm eloquently put it, should temper our worldly cravings.

    just my five pesos in the hat, guys. change will come.

  72. Hmmm. One less thorn on the side of the GMA administration? That’s reason enough to celebrate. And I mean say this in the most sarcastic way.

  73. And when I think of your feeding program MM, the amount GMA’s party spent for one dinner could have fed a great number of public school children for an entire year!

  74. Marketman, you’re correct… i got manolo’s hypothetical bill, listing items from Le Cirque’s menu.. just to show how the bill of Arroyo, et al could easily come up to $20,000.. and i still do not believe it was Martin Romualdez who picked up the bill. That was what Press Secretary Cerge Remonde, who seemed to have been ordered to do damage control (again! for the umpteenth time!) said, AFTER the Page 6 item came out and was made known to people in Manila. If you were invited to dinner by someone, would you have brought 20+ people along with you??? No, I really think it was Arroyo and her husband’s idea and Romualdez was just one of those in the group.

  75. Quillene, yes, it says August 2, but the Inquirer contradicts itself, and should check their own editing/timeline, as they have mentioned August 2 here but also Mr. Remonde saying they got to NY late after Washington, which was on the 31st. My best guess right now. It was the 31st, as some readers have privately emailed me in a VERY CONFIDENT tone, if you know what I mean. Like they knew for sure apparently.

  76. very much like them to confuse the people by providing conflicting if all Filipinos are dumb..whatever the details, bottom line is they displayed such callousness and disregard for the sorry plight of their countrymen..shades of Nero fiddling while Rome burned

  77. c’mon guys, GMA already CUT SHORT her US trip. what more do you wanna hear? it’s a big sacrifice na nga for them, let them eat in peace. LOL

    one person did not have a good time pala:

    Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said he remembered dining with the President in a New York restaurant but added that the place did not seem “fashionable.”

    Suarez said there were probably more expensive restaurants in New York’s five-star hotels.

    “I don’t find it fashionable. The food is not bad. As for the place, the surroundings were not pretty,” he told the Inquirer.

    poor guy, he and lito lapid must’ve been starving for sabrett’s.

    my personal thoughts on why romualdez payed for the bill:

    guess who the supreme court ruled in favor of concerning the marcos properties… OOPS

    1 million lang naman pala eh. we should not be surprised anymore with the antics of this administration. we also have ourselves to blame for not doing anything about it. Garci pa lang, dapat wala na yang babae na yan

  78. Manolo’s hypothetical bill just landed on the Philippine Star’s front page story and even their editorial quoting it as fact!!!!!! This just confirmed a long standing suspicion on the lack of diligence by newsmen on verifying their info. So who do you trust now? Not Malacanang, not the papers… This is outrageous.

  79. addendum:

    this is how one should act pala when you declare 10 days of mourning…

    they should’ve kept the anniversary dinner among themselves na lang, not the whole contingent

  80. chrisb, yes, amazing how lax the standards for reporting/writing/editing are in a NATIONAL publication. I do try to read carefully or cross check various articles and temper the write-up with qualifiers when necessary… Imagine if we had a program like Saturday Night Live locally with a lot of humor and satire? The newspapers might not get it at all and quote them for front page articles! :)

  81. How ironic… nag-declare siya ng National Day of Mourning tapos siya naman at ang kanyang mga alalay tinodo ang pagsasaya sa kain. Buti di nabilaukan…

  82. Nung tinanong si Ginang Arroyo sa Le Cirque kung anong gusto niya inumin, sabi niya: “Tsa-tsa!”

  83. I just took a quick look at the poll in this page. I can understand not caring at all, but to say that the dinner was appropriate and very appropriate? Oh well, I guess to each his own.

    What do you think about the reported GMA and Party $20,000 dinner at Le Cirque Restaurant in New York last weekend?

    Very Inappropriate 307
    Inappropriate 32
    Neither Inappropriate nor Appropriate 8
    Appropriate 3
    Very appropriate 1
    I don’t care at all. 19

  84. and you just cant drop by and eat at le cirque w 20 people… d ito parang mann hann… you have to reserve days or months in advance right?… it was planned maybe right when gloria got the obama invite… sabi nya… “kakain ako sa le cirque habang i can use people’s money pa, kailangan pa ni FG kasi nangangayayat sya.”

    and if you can judge the person w the company she keeps… nakakatakot ka gloria.

    and even if Tita cory has not died yet…. insensitive to eat pa rin there, its so insensitive that the NY columnist found it so appaling even though it is so regular for her to see people ( rich and famous) eat at that restaurant.

  85. Geoffrey, actually, I am most disturbed by the 19 or 5% who “don’t care at all.” I almost always put that option because I am always shocked by how many pick it. It so goes against one of my favorite mottos: “Choose Frustration Over Indifference” that is printed on a shirt given to me as a gift. The folks who put “appropriate” and “very appropriate,” are well, not like the majority with respect to this issue, is all I can say… :)

  86. THe Philippine Star also used the hypothetical bill as fact! Due diligence anyone? But wait- Senator Miriam said she bowed out of dinner because she though it was excessive but some other reports say she was there- who and what to believe? What a circus!

  87. Come to think of it, does it really matter what they ordered? USD 20K is still USD 20K. Even if there were 50 of them, the bill would still run a whopping PhP 19K per person!

  88. Whoever is going to run against Martin Romualdez in the coming election can thank Mr. Remonde for giving him or her an issue to throw at our good Congressman that would definitely make him blush as long as the San Juanico Bridge.

    There are still so many unpaved roads leading up to and from the municipalities that comprise the 1st District of Leyte, the people could have benefited so much from that $20K.

    I really hope they ate anything and everything gold for that dinner to cost that much.

  89. grabe na talaga ang gma na 2. wala na talaga respeto sa mga kababayan nia.ang kapal na talaga ang mukha. cigurado lacing na cia sa kapangyarihan.makarma na sana cia. hmmp!!!!

  90. ang dami nilang pera… galing sa kaban ng bayan. kawawa na naman si juan, mamumulot na naman ng panghapunan, mabusog lang si gloria.

  91. …and GMA gives us all that smirk which is fast becoming her trademark..”hmmph..mga inggit lang kayo”…kawawang mga Pinoy

  92. The saddest thing about this is after a few week/month this issue will die like all the other issues about GMA and then they can splurge and pillage again as much as they want to.

  93. well, di bale high tech naman na ngaun digital na rin ang KARMA..lumaki sna mga bituka nyo!!!!!!!!!!!!

  94. In the ideal world, everyone should be sensitive enough and not “live it up” too much. It just irks me how there are so many hypocrites. When you constantly dine in Serendra, buy that pricey bag, and so on, it’s pretty much the same thing. A tall mocha frapuccino from Starbucks would cost around P135, which could be the budget of a marginalized family for dinner. Maybe the magnitude, in terms of the value, is different, but the whole concept is the same.

  95. MarketMan I admire your sense of outrage. I have just watched the news here in NYC reporting that Mark Sanford (Governor of South Carolina and much in the news of late )is being harried by newspapers; apparently he used State aircraft to fly over 350 miles to get a hair cut from his favourite barber.

    It seems to me that Politicians all over the world share the same traits as the Philippine Politicians.—-Greed, Avarice , Arrogance.

    We should never loose our sense of outrage

    Best to all


  96. IF u had 100 officials eating at le crique, 200 dollars per person is the average price there.. so i think doing comparisons for amount itself is plain immature and shallow, we all know they are corrupt but if everything has to be compared to how many houses you can build, how many shirts u can give, how many meals u can offer, then i guess we shudn have built a nice cultural center, a tall tiled floor building for exchange, airconditioned schools and what have you. why dont you spare 7 shirts for a week of supply and give all ur other spare shirts to the homeless and half naked kids on the street. maybe thats an fair comparison too, right?

  97. Haaaaaaayyyy naku!

    You all have to understand, the participants of that dinner scrambled to be at that dinner, for the same reason they scrambled to be included in the trip. Junkets are freebies for diems, shopping, photo ops, name dropping. Unfortunately, most of these people (hangers on and politicians alike) don’t really have class–and I mean the old fashioned one: one you can’t buy. So what do we get, someone who complains the place is not “fashionable”; someone who complains the service was slow (kaya nga fine dining eh! and not roadside dining), someone who can’t tell the difference between 20 and 50 (absent yata sa math subjects niya). Isn’t it the case that if you’re a guest, you’re not to complain and be either gracious or quiet about it????

    I got turned off by politics and politicians early on: my (ex) husband, a former “diplomat” was “summoned” to join FVR during his presidency. From the sideline, I did not like what I saw (didn’t hear much) and asked (then) hubby not to join next admin. He’s still there within the corridors of (so-called) power. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, even by the minions. I also have relatives who have run for office but not for the reason of service to the people. I do admire people who can call it quits at the end of their terms and not cling to any office one way or another.

    I used to get an earful from my current husband (non-Pinoy) about the corruption in Manila. I quietly told him even the US gov is corrupt. In fact, show me a country that’s not. He said Australia’s not. Well, since moving here, he’s changed his tune….tra-lala….

    True honesty in service is now old school. Decency is old school. Values have become old school. I am an old soul. We are slowly becoming extinct…or are we?

    Use your connections, technology and the current Cory fever to educate, educate, educate, educate the voting masses. We get what we vote for, deserving or not.

  98. when you see some of my neighbors who are eating rice and salt and rushing to a nearby “lamay” just to get what little food like biscuits and juice to get by…then you knew why i felt so betrayed by my leaders who spent $20,000 on a single dinner alone!

  99. yan ang napala ng mga bumoto ke gma, pati tuloy kaming di bumoto nadamay….. stupid voters elect stupid president, or MAYBE she isn’t stupid, msyado lng wise (magulang). sana maging leksyon ANG MGA GINAGAWA ng gobyernong ito sa mga pilipinong botante at comelec officials, WAG MAGPADALA SA KONTING PERA SA PANAHON NG ELEKSYON, yung matino naman HO SANA ang piliin natin… kawawa naman ang bayan natin. no wonder, 95% of pinoys want to go out of our country to escape, they just don’t have the opportunity. yun tuloy mga pinoy ngayon dito sa abroad ikinahihiya SYA.


  100. Gloria’s dogs’ will again say that the peoples’ uproar about their insensitivity is again a work of Gloria’s political enemies. This is an insult to us bloggers, and the millions of Filipinos who are not as immoral and indecent and insensitive as they are. Not all people can be commanded as to what they will say. But I have this to say to all Gloria’s political enemies aspiring for the highest post in the land: We will vote for the candidate who will and who can put Gloria behind bars! Seriously Prosecute Arroyo Movement (SPAM 2010)

  101. Ellen Tordesillas is a biased journalist, read her articles. She shouldn’t be a journalist at all, she’d probably do a better job joining “The Buzz”. LOL.

    I want to analyze this incident from a non-biased point of view, unlike the many hard-headed people out there who keep thinking from their skewed perspectives.

    The first and most apparent fact is that the actual receipt from the dinner has not yet been shown to the public. What the New York Post has reported is based on HEARSAY and should not be stated as if it were fact because it cannot be supported yet with the hard evidence which is the receipt. The administration is rebutting claims that the dinner was ostentatious with their own claims that there was no caviar or champagne involved. Unless anyone in this forum has the evidence or empirical data (pictures and receipts) to prove that they indeed ordered what was reported in the New York Post, I advise everyone to SHUT UP FIRST.

    The second point I want to raise is that, indeed Le Cirque is a high-class restaurant, but that GMA DID NOT CHOOSE the restaurant, she was merely invited for dinner there. If you want to say that the very expensive bill absolutely went to the benefit of Ms. Arroyo, well you’re wrong, because the money spent for the food should be divided equally among everyone who ate the dinner. All the lawmakers in the dinner, and the staff of the president are also included in that dinner, and not just Ms. Arroyo. It was just held in her honor, and from what I can remember, honor doesn’t have monetary value. If you want to argue that the dinner was a gift to Ms. Arroyo, are you saying that all the food went to her benefit only? Of course not. It’s just food, and it’s the host’s choice, who is Daniel Romualdez and not Martin. The gift that Romualdez did give is the honor of the occasion, and not really the food. If you want to complain that GMA ate very expensive food, well, make sure you knew what she ate by HERSELF, then compute the monetary value of it. I don’t think it’ll even go past 50,000 pesos. LOL.

    The law persecutes officials who receive gifts in the course of their duties or that affect her office that are substantial in value. Well, the thing is, the dinner wasn’t held in the course of her official duty, it was held as a private affair in her life as a private citizen paid for by one of the most well-paid architects in the world. I don’t understand why people are complaining only now about how GMA spends, when the politicians that they support have SUVs and luxury cars worth millions, and they don’t seem to be complaining about it. It’s seems to be in fashion to always point a finger at GMA, when the fact is, the government full of congressmen and senators in general has private occasions such as those that are expensive. It just shows that people are stupid to keep blaming the same person for being ostentatious, when in reality, a lot of people in government are. How can you say GMA is ostentatious if she was merely invited to this dinner? LOL.

    Show your empirical data and hard evidence that one million pesos worth of food was given to GMA as a gift and I will concede to you; otherwise, shut up.

  102. Jag, all you needed to do was read the post on RA 6713 to know you don’t need to be on official duty or to have given something in return for a gift to have violated the spirit if not the law stated therein. And I think ALL government officials at that dinner should have been intelligent enough to act in a manner consistent with being a public official. Nobody says only GMA ate the P1 million. In fact, I think I write somewhere up there or on other posts that the figure is roughly PHP30,000-35000 supposed benefit per diner. And since an amount (only the amount cited, not the laws broken) of that much actually is enough to constitute estafa in the Philippines,I would think it would qualify for being not minor or insubstantial in value. But yes, if this goes to court, the receipt would be absolutely necessary evidence.

    What I find more interesting is that no one has come out and shown a receipt for say $4,000 instead. What happened, did they lose it? The silence, while not proof, is certainly deafening. And now it’s being reported that it was Rep. Romualdez’s brother who supposedly paid for dinner. But all of the Philippine officials interviewed so far stated it was Congressman Romualdez who invited and or paid for dinner. What, they didn’t even know who to thank at the end of the dinner? Give me a break. When there’s smoke, there’s fire. Or when there’s odor, there’s bacteria or putrification. Take you pick. And no, I don’t think we will take your advice and shut up. :)

    And before you go calling others biased or allude to their inaccuracies, why don’t you check your own sources and assertions. The “theoretical menu” was on MLQ3’s blog, and clearly labelled theoretical. The NY post article was short and sweet and didn’t mention champagne, only several expensive bottles of wine.

    Just because Daniel R. is a private citizen, generous host, kind benefactor, or whatever is absolutely not the point. RA 6713 IS THE POINT. Duhh. And let’s not EVEN go down the path that that particular R family has, if I am not mistaken, serious interests in the mining industry in the Philippines, so wining and dining politicians is at best, simply poor judgment.

  103. What is PHP 30,000-35000 broken down per diner in a first-world city such as New York? Don’t judge from Philippine monetary standards. The official receipt should go to the one who paid for the bill, who is right now a private citizen living in the US who works as an architect. Go ASK THE RESTAURANT for the bill if you want to see it, then you can complain.

    A lot of politicians here treat other politicians for dinners here in very expensive restaurants like Circles in Shangri-La Makati. It’s part of their private lives, obviously, the media is sensationalizing this ‘GMA is corrupt’ issue when everyone is so fed up with hearing irrelevant stories of how dinners that GMA CANNOT CHOOSE WHERE OR WHAT TO ORDER automatically become her liabilities. A lot of current politicians eat in extravagant restaurants and even they treat their politician colleagues. It’s the first time the Papers have come up with this whole expensive dinner shit. Don’t you think that we should wait for someone to come up with the official receipt from NEW YORK because this issue is only a few days old and the restaurant FROM NEW YORK cannot just release any OFFICIAL RECEIPT without the consent of the CUSTOMER WHO PAID FOR IT. GOD. THINK FIRST. WAIT MUNA! ATAT NA ATAT KASI.

    Andaming politicians who spend so much money on designer bags from Greenbelt 4 and Greenbelt 5 but no paper makes a fuss about it. Ngayon lang umeksena itong ostentatious thing, when in reality, ANDAMING MGA TAO SA GOBYERNO OSTENTATIOUS. Don’t be BLIND. HOW ARE YOU SURE NA 1 MILLION NGA BA TALAGA ANG GINASTOS at PHP 30,000-35,000 PER DINER ANG GINAMIT KUNG PATI IKAW NAGHIHINTAY PARA SA NAPAKA-OFFICIAL NA RECEIPT. LOL. YOU’RE STILL WAITING FOR YOUR EVIDENCE TAPOS YOU START CASTING PREJUDGEMENT. WHAT A rip-off BIASED PERSON. consider both sides first and analyze the situation carefully.

  104. kaya nga hindi umaasenso ang Pilipinas, maraming tao, naglalabas na ng satsat bago mapatunayan talaga.

  105. You are entitled to your opinion. But I hold firm to what I have written, and regardless of the final amount spent or what was consumed, since they admitted to the dinner, it was insensitive, inappropriate, and given the laws spelled out in RA 6713, possibly actionable. And given the reaction of most of the readers on this blog, I think I pretty much nailed the majority if not overwhelming majority sentiment with regard to this issue. Further comments from you were/will be deleted. For many, there is no documentary proof that God exists. But for many, he does regardless of a lack of cedula, driver’s license or passport (that in answer to a deleted comment of yours). Start your own blog using your logic if it pleases you.

  106. @Marketman, the spirit of the law? Is that another way of trying to rationalize your argument by trying to include every other loophole into your defense? So what is, the spirit of RA 6713? Best consult the lawmakers who wrote the law. It’s to prevent officials from taking advantage of their positions for monetary gain or advantage. This, whole Le Cirque issue thing, is just about food. It goes into our stomachs and then it gets pooped out. I don’t know why people are making such a fuss over how much it costs while the official receipt isn’t released yet. It’s irrelevant to the social issues that we Filipinos, should be concerned about. This xxxx as headlines in newspapers tells a lot about how Filipinos quarrel over, sadly PETTY THINGS and not the REAL ISSUES.

  107. jag aka jocjoc

    everyone is entitled to their opinion. honor among alibaba and his disciples are normal, yes. ostentatious displays are common among politicians, yes. hence, our opinions on the matter.

    you consciously entered a hot kitchen. you know what they say about hot kitchens

  108. it is said that this well beloved blog has been infested by the so called paid propagandists. i hope that they will just be courteous enough and civil enough to MM instead of rudely telling MM to shut up. just goes to show how low these people can go in the overall scheme of life.

  109. I am not a paid propagandist. I am a student at UP Diliman who is empowered as a scholar to study the issue at hand before making any comments on it. My plea to people is to keep quiet on any issue until the real evidence has come out. I am not pro-GMA nor am I against the Opposition. Fine, I am a hot kitchen. I am angry at those people who talk about things they haven’t seen for themselves that have yet to come out. My professor told me to prove first with empirical data and solid evidence any accusation I have against any other person, before I make arguments. I appeal to people to do the same.

  110. jag, if you read my post carefully, I only state the facts, that a news item came out in a new york paper, that a local journalist got a text confirmation from the press secretary that they attended the meal, and then I do my post from there. I was extremely careful NOT to make anything up, and you need to read carefully before you shoot from the hip, regardless of your position. I repeatedly and responsibly caution readers against accepting the purported menu items consumed on MLQ3’s blog since it is clearly labelled it theoretical. And I do my own range of possible expenses at a dinner of that sort, given the factual minimum amount for a prix fixe dinner (set dinner in case you didn’t know that) at the said restaurant, based on their published menus. If you want to analyze this like a student, then do it calmly rather than acting like a flame thrower. Appearances, yes just appearances, do matter for public officials serving their consituents. And especially elected ones. The outrage, even on speculation, is real. And if the dinner WERE so plain and common, then they WOULD have simply come out with a receipt for say a plain and common meal. But they have already publicly admitted to all eating a meal at the restaurant. That is a reported fact.

    Further, don’t even presume to lecture me on not knowing what a meal at Le Cirque might cost and whether it is extravagant or not. Elsewhere on this blog is a post of a spectacular dinner at Per Se that I had the good fortune to attend (though I am NOT a public official) and for which I was a guest, and it is a FAR better restaurant than Le Cirque and dinner with a glass or two of wine was probably less than $375 per person or so. And the tasting menu at Per Se is more than TWICE the price of a tasting menu at Le Cirque. There is also a post at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Daniel in the blog, here, and if I am not mistaken, he was the chef that catapulted Le Cirque to it’s lofty heights before its decline to a few notches below the best New York dining has to offer. I have also, in a previous life, as a guest of relatives, dined at Le Cirque multiple times (thankfully, never having to pick up the bill myself) and I can tell you it is NOT a common everyday type of meal. So while you may not have picked up the significance of an admitted meal at Le Cirque, for those who are familiar with that restaurant, they know what it suggests at the very least. And if I were by some bizarre quirk of fate President of the Republic of the Philippines, and visiting my family in New York, I WOULD have to tell my sisters who both live there that it would be INAPPROPRIATE AND UNSEEMLY if they took me and 30 of my official entourage to dinner to celebrate my birthday at Le Bernardin, Daniel, Per Se or Le Cirque! And no, despite my previously having entered Barney’s, Bergdorf’s, Tiffany’s or Cartier, I wouldn’t be caught dead in those shops while an elected official. There are higher standards for such folks, and it is our failure to insist on them that leads to abuse of the trust we give our elected officials.

    Work out your facts first, and structure your logical arguments next, decide what logical assumptions are or are not acceptable, rather than just lashing out and sounding instantly like a paid hack, even if you aren’t.

  111. All I want people to stop doing is to stop calling other people insensitive, poor judges, because obviously this dinner was meant as a a private occasion which is not for public consumption. Why are you calling her insensitive for dining at a very ritzy restaurant when every other head of state will certainly be extended the honor of expensive dinner by their own countrymen? Why are you calling her insensitive when every other politician rides their luxurious cars and owns their very own luxurious vehicles knowing that there are poor people? Is it a sin to be rich even though there are poor? The whole insensitivity towards the poor should apply to all those politicians who spend millions of pesos campaigning for themselves which can be better spent to feed the poor. Even Cory gave money to Noynoy Aquino to spend, a lot of money, and no one is complaining that they should just use it for the poor. Cory Aquino spent millions for the sake of her son’s campaign and not to feed the poor, and she is not an insensitive person. So why call GMA, in the context of this dinner, insensitive?

  112. “Barney’s, Bergdorf’s, Tiffany’s or Cartier”, I’m pretty sure Cory Aquino or any other politician for that matter can enter these stores while they are serving the public and buy things for personal consumption and not be publicly ridiculed for doing so. The point for not spending while in government is that you don’t want people to get the notion that you’re using government (taxpayer) money or using your position to receive valuable benefits. But in reality, some politicians are naturally rich or have rich families, and they can freely enter these stores, and buy expensive gifts for their loved ones. It’s not the same as receiving expensive gifts as a government official though, but the point is, money is spent, a lot of money, which people can claim the spending to be, insensitive to the poor.

    Anyway, I concede to the author of the blog that it is his opinion written on his blog, as it is mine to object on some points. He did raise some very valid points which I acknowledge. I guess I got carried away by the title which is “GMA’s $20,000 Dinner at Le Cirque in New York?!?”, which comes up some people’s minds as an article of fact, instead of opinion because it would’ve been better to add the word ‘Alleged’. I’m sorry if I did misinterpret the author’s intentions, if I did. It was nice debating with the author because his criticisms were constructive. Thanks. Peace MM.

  113. “Actually, the nearly PHP1 million peso dinner bothers me JUST slightly less than the fact that GMA’s party all sat down to the meal (most probably) after the news that President Corazon Aquino had passed away had shocked the nation and already reverberated to Filipinos around the globe.”

    Here, after I read the first paragraph things just started to fuel my rage because I thought this was an assumption that the author thinks that the dinner is already indeed worth 1 million pesos.

  114. The universal outrage over this public relations fiasco is really astounding. However, the news cycle over this is almost over. After that, no one will really care. Nobody would even remember. Does anybody still rage about the “hello garci” tapes? or the “cash giveaways” given to public officials in broad daylight at Malacanang? This is at most, a “news of the week” nothing more… I think the palace knows it and is just weathering the storm with their “no apology needed” policy. What can we do? but just rant away at blogs and editorial opinion columns. What else is left out there?

  115. @Jag, guess what, it was also that first paragraph that started to fuel my rage, but it’s interesting that a UP scholar like yourself would feel the exact opposite of what I felt — outrage at the extravagance. To each is own, I guess.

    I don’t care what you say about waiting for empirical data and having to produce the receipt. Anecdotal experience already convinces that we’re probably not even hearing 10% of the total extravagances among gov’t officials in general. This one situation is just a flashpoint.

    And btw, just because other people do it, doesn’t make it right. Just because other people are rich and make insensitive displays of their wealth doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to demand more from the people’s representatives, every single one of them, equally.

    Do not tell us that our collective outrage is misplaced.

  116. tyler, yes, I agree that this will die down. But as happens everytime something similar happens, I do write a post(s) when I have a strong viewpoint, hence economic short circuit posts, money in bags posts, this post, etc. I also agree that we, the general population are partially to blame by not doing more to act collectively to stop these types of things from happening. Why don’t newspapers start photographing public officials in casinos, alighting from fancy cars, using expensive handbags, jewelry, etc.?

    If I were elected President, this is what I would do:

    All plate numbers 7, 8 etc. would be immediately revoked. All government officials above a certain level would be issued a standard, decent car, and they would have to use it for all public functions. I would instruct my cabinet to dress, act, spend modestly or be shown the door, regardless of how wealthy they were before they joined government. AND, I would try and get them a huge salary increase legally, but ZAP them the minute there was any hint of impropriety. And that’s just a start with respect to the issue of lavish spending… It’s very much a question of leading by example. And BEING SENSITIVE. Have people forgotten that several U.S. Presidential spouses proudly wore fake or costume jewelry and that President Clinton sported a Casio watch on his wrist???

    Another current example is the Chairman of Goldman Sachs who recently sent a message to employees to REFRAIN from any LARGE or SPLASHY purchases after they receive bonuses. And that is a PRIVATE firm, in THE largest CAPITALIST NATION on earth, well-known for HIGH SALARIES, that was able to quickly REPAY all advances from the U.S. Government after the recent financial crisis… and THEY are ATTEMPTING some degree of DELICADEZA in one of the wealthiest western nations!

  117. “one day, all of these scumbags will be washed, one by one, with a single massive flood.”

  118. Pure insensitivity by this administration, public officials who mascarade themselves as pro-poor and wanting only the welfare of its people. But in reality you are vampires who suck the blood of people whom you have sworn to serve.

    Now we now why this midget wants charter change and be Prime Minister for life. With 1M pesos, we could have hired an assassin to wipe this midget…


  119. what a very sad plight :( . i don’t know what word to use having those kind of public servants. no credibility @ all and humility is not in their dictionary, too. maybe the best thing for us to do is pray collectively – for these people to wake up from their selfishness, and for a Divine intervention to give us another Tita Cory – who’ll serve the Pilipino people in all honesty and sincerity. YOu know MIRACLE still happen. May GOD bless the Philippines especially the poorest among the poor.

  120. silang mga gahaman na mga opisyal ng gobyerno dapat hindi irespeto. pwe! ang kakapal ng mukha nila!!! pag kumain ba sila ng mamahaling at masasarap pagkain?, pag nilabas na nila yun eh mukha pa kayang masarap yun at mamahalin? pare-pareho lang tayong umuupo sa toilet seat!. sinusumpa na sila ng mas nakakaraming kababayan.

  121. The Band “ASIN” said it right in one of their songs si GMA and many Public Officials are “MAGNANAKAW”

  122. @Jag, your statement “Fine, I am a hot kitchen. I am angry at those people who talk about things they haven’t seen for themselves that have yet to come out. My professor told me to prove first with empirical data and solid evidence any accusation I have against any other person, before I make arguments. I appeal to people to do the same.”

    So i guess you don’t believe in GOD? BTW, since you are a UP DILIMAN scholar, then most bloggers here are paying for your education. So please wise up and study hard, for you are the what we call the “PAG-ASA ng BAYAN”. You sound intelligent, but if you keep looking for the evidence then you’ll never get them, go in line at the Supreme Court, for the only time you will get the truth is after her term expires, but by then, I guess you already are fed up with all these non-sense ostentanious hypocricy, and you won’t care anymore, and then the country is back to square one…Le Cirque is just one, some more classy resto’s they went to are just now being reported,,they’ve been doing this everytime they go abroad, but they were able to hide it. If you are looking for imperical data, you won’t get them from Remonde or the congress, you have to do your research outside of your cocoon.
    Good thing we have blogs and twits, otherwise, you won’t even know what’s going on. So to you,,,here’s my reply…Empirical data my **s and wake up!

  123. Pres Arroyo and entourage dining in a posh restaurant in the BIG Apple shows bad taste [no pun intended}So it was hosted and paid by a a Romualdez but Pres Arroyo you forgot you have to power to veto.You could and should have said no.Now I have a great idea so next time you will not get in trouble but perhaps redeem yourself.On your next official visit bring everyone who wants to join,ask thenm to bring all their significant other or others for some {the more the merrier}take them to LE CIRQUE and be the host but with a twist,ask each one to donate the equivalent of the full dinner[1 million each person].Another solon was ready to pick up the bill but Romualdez beat him to it,so my idea will work.So 25 people X 2 or 3,imagine how much dough you can raise in one night.Then think of all the possibilities and difference it would make Filipino lives better.I got this idea from an article I read about Warren Buffett.he auctioned a chance to have dinner with him,someone paid almost 2 million dollars,he donated the money to a foundation or charity.
    I think it is a very noble idea,the Filipinos will love you and they will make you PRES for life,no charter change required.

  124. Does above the belt means I can say:
    KAPALMUKS yan si GMA and the rest of the gang?
    For the benefit of our countrymen I hope you will not find this comment below the belt.

  125. Whatever the underlying things are, what makes the dinner so distasteful?

    1. The timing. They ate so luxuriously when the People mourn for the death of one of the most simple-living Presidents in Philippine History. Granted that Tita Cory can afford living large as she was an heiress. And look kung sino ang nanlibre. Pamangkin ni Imelda. Akmang akma nga sa okasyon.

    2. The comparison. They ate so luxuriously while a lot of Filipinos don’t have ar barely have anything to eat.

    3. How many times. Hey, they ate luxuriously not once but twice!

    4. Who benefits. The American economy was stimulated, not ours!

    5. Preference. A tip for them to live and eat modest? Buy lots of potatoes, carrots, chili, beef, and liver spread. And with the right cook, we have CALDERETA! Enough to feed a lot of people. Pinoy na pinoy pa!

    6. Bad “Taste”. Many say that the dinner was distasteful because in a restaurant connoisseur’s POV, Le Cirque isn’t that good anyway

    7. The Damage Control. The Palace guys keep on saying that no public money was spent. Come on, we get it. But even if the congressmen have enough money to spend more or less a million in a single dinner, the government gives them salary. Quite inappropriate isn’t. Besides, the Palace people miss the point: The thing that is wrong with the dinner is the first six listed here, not them using public money. Or did they?

  126. no facts are needed. kahit normal na pilipinong walang pinag-aralan makikita yung corruption ng mga officials sa bansa. and what makes it all too sad is that these govt officials supposedly UP THERE to serve the people obviously have a different objective. nakakagalit, sobra, pero sa huli malulungkot ka na lang para sa mga pilipinong nagtitiis sa kahirapan samantalang may solusyon naman kung ginagwa lang ng bawa’t isa ung makakabuti para sa kapwa nila.

  127. GMA’s 1 million dinner shows that there is money in the government but non of it will benefit the ordinary Filipino.

  128. @Jag

    Of all people, a UP scholar would go and defend what GMA has done. Bro, I’m also a fellow UP student myself and I also work for a local NGO here assisting poor families. Lets say, after being exposed for 2 years of serving poorest of the poor, I become livid every time I hear stories of excesses of our public officials.

    Lets say, even if GMA and her group did not spend 1 Million for Dinner, just the mere fact of eating in an extremely expensive and posh restaurant already sends all the wrong signals to a people a developing country where over 30 million can barely eat three times a day. Sorry Jag, you are like a Japanese professor trying to debate that Japan only killled 3 million Chinese not 6 million during World War II.

  129. they are so irresponsible!!
    how could they
    afford to eat
    so much costly food
    while here in the
    there are so many
    Filipino FAMILIES
    who are hungry
    and cant even buy
    a decent food to eat!!

  130. Read the PDI today, August 16, 2008 Sunday edition Page 2. My opinion is not the opinion of every UP student, nor should UP students share a single opinion. Articles that only have one source to cite breaks the conventions of Journalism which states that every article must have a least three sources. I don’t go to UP to agree with popular opinion, I go there to study. No further comment.

  131. If we ever get a copy of the real menu, I wonder if MM could replicate it to see how much lower it could have cost. :)

  132. I’ve never liked GMA but I wouldn’t rant on them just because they had their lavish dinner on the night that Pres. Cory died. I believe she and and the former president had never been in good terms so she couldn’t care less if Pres. Cory died.

    I think the main point here is that they spent the people’s money on an extravagant dinner. Indeed they were insensitive to the plight of the Filipino people who are scavenging for food in trash bins, blind and deaf to those who can only eat once a day and apathetic to the desperate situation in our country.

    It kind of reminds me of the days when the Marcoses did the same appalling things to the Filipino people. Mind you, they were a lot worse.

  133. @Jag, i suppose you haven’t been in UP long enough to do what you’re supposed to do… study. and learn. coz that’s where i learned that if i do nothing and shut up and wait for “empirical data and solid evidence” first before i do anything, chances are, i’ll never even get started to go anywhere. if we didn’t voice our opinion now, do you think the government or the people involved in the issue would feel compelled to produce this so-called evidence? even now when outraged citizens are crying for it, these people are still not showing us the bill in question. do you think if we had shut up, they would even be justifying this outrageous spending? i don’t think so… yes, we UP students have been taught to study matters analytically and come up with solid evidence to work on, but we were also taught to prod and act and not just wait and shut up while waiting. atleast that was what my professors had taught me while i was there.

  134. hey guys. I just took a read off this blog cause I’m looking for material to use as my basis for the article I am assigned to write for our school paper. And I thought, we can never know the whole story. I mean, she is the president, and she didn’t eat the whole $20,000 on her own she got 29 others to enjoy it with her, you know. Yeah, and in my own personal opinion I completely understand this very expensive and lavish dinner or lunch, or whenever they had it, because I mean, it is her last year though, next year she’ll be stepping down from her office. And to think, she’s the best we’ve got so far since we still don’t have any idea who really is eligible for the seat for the next elections, and if this he or she can bring better governance to our country, we have no choice but to pray whoever God will send to us.

    No matter how we say “I hope they choke on their Martinis” or “I hope they get hit by a cab while crossing Fifth Avenue”, we still can’t do anything about it though, cause what’s done is done. All we can do now, is hope and pray that the $20 000 they’ve spent their, when they get back here, they’d be guilty enough to at least make it up for the people since they do know now that what happened had upset us Filipinos. Maybe do something that can at least, just a little bit, make their expenses there worth it. :]

    I’m not literally supporting GMA with what she did, technically it was wrong, but everyone’s been thinking about our side, we don’t expand our minds to what they have to say about it. And, that’s what life has been ever since Marcos, Philippines officials have began to be corrupt. So we can’t really ask these officials to NOT be corrupt. Temptations are always there and it’s up to them to resist it. It’s the function of their conscience if they’d take it and lie about it, or refuse and be free of guilt. :)

    This is a nice blog wherein everyone can express their opinions, so keep typing guys! :)

  135. One of the reasons i migrated here in Canada; in the Phils. greedy public officials milking the public coffer of people’s tax money to satisfy their needs and wants. Here in Canada you pay higher taxes but it will all come back to you in the form of public service, secured environment, insured health services and progressive infrastructure. A $20,000 dinner for a selected party of govt. officials is absurd. That money will feed thousands of Filipinos scavenging for fastfood junk from jollibee, Mcdo etc. Babalik ako sa Pilipinas pag lahat ng Barangay may sarili nang Ambulansya, Firetruck at magandang kalsada na walang snatcher at mandurukot. Kaya ng Pilipinas bumangon kaya lang ang tanong kung gustong bumangon ng mga namumuno sa gobyerno. Mukhang hindi na ko makakabalik ng Pilipinas ah di bale dito muna ko sa Canada habang ganyan ang kultura ng politika dyan.



Subscribe To Updates

No spam, only notifications about new blog posts.