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Reporter’s Notebook: Visiting the President of the Philippines, Manila

Because of the historic nature of the day, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has made time in her schedule to meet with the executives of Holland America to show her appreciation for all that Holland America is doing to encourage the hiring and training of Philippine workers for its ships.

The chaotic streets of Manila give way to peace and serenity as we drive into the grounds of the historic Malacanang Palace.

Malacanang Palace.

The Holland America Line group of Stein Kruse, president and CEO; Brendan Vierra, vice president, human resources; Rose Abello, vice president, public relations, as well as Andy Lising and Dino Lising of UPL is warmly greeted at the first security checkpoint and then escorted across a serene park-like courtyard area with beautiful Banyan trees, tropical plants and flowers.

Entering the palace the group goes through another security check and are greeting by Secretary of Tourism Joseph “Ace” Durano. Secretary Durano and the group discussed the many tourism attractions of the Philippines while briefly waiting for President Arroyo to conclude a meeting.

A member of the President’s staff invited the group to follow him up the impressive carved staircase to the music room. Walking past portraits of national heroes under gigantic chandeliers, the group entered the palace’s music room.

Moments later President Arroyo arrived.

Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line, is greeted by President Arroyo.

After initial introductions, Stein Kruse informed Madam President about Holland America Line’s long, proud history of employing officers and crew from the Philippines. In addition he discussed the company’s mission — through excellence we create once-in-a-lifetime experiences, every time — and spoke of the significant contributions Filipinos make to delivering on HAL’s mission day in and day out.

From left, Dino Lising, Rose Abello, Andy Lising, Stein Kruse and President Arroyo.

In addition, Secretary Durano spoke of the two upcoming April calls of ms Volendam in the Philippines, to Puerto Princesa and Manila.

At the end of our 30-minute meeting, Stein presented the president with a model of ms Eurodam and thanked her for her support.

Next: It’s off for the drive toward the distant foothills of Antipolo and the new HAL Training Center.

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