Planas takes oath Friday as Palace deputy spokesperson before PGMA

January 7, 2010 11:02 pm 

By Gloria Jane Baylon

MANILA, Jan. 7 —Newly-designated deputy presidential spokesperson Charito Planas is set to take her oath of office on Friday before President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her chief principal and for whom she has “the fullest admiration as a human being and a Chief Executive.”

The 79-year old Planas, a former vice mayor of Quezon City, holds the concurrent position of executive director of Nayong Pilipino — where she has made her mark as an environmentalist and became known for actually returning to the national purse the unspent reserves of “Nayon.”

During the week, the President spoke to her briefly on the phone congratulating her.

Planas, a lawyer by profession and an activist at heart, said she was looking forward to seeing through the expansion of the Nayong Pilipino at its new location by the Manila Bay, when the call for her Malacanang job came.

Her job description includes making the rounds of forum and sessions, where, “with sheer sincerity I will build an ambience of positivity” for government and the President, she told the Philippines News Agency.

“I don’t know where it (as deputy spokesperson) started, but I accepted it because I believe in President Arroyo and how hard she has been working for the people. She is our best President ever,” she said.

”It’s just that many Filipinos are so good at judging others,” she said.

The irony of her expression is not lost on those who know Planas well enough as a person who does not mince her words. ”I am not in Malacanang to upgrade her image, the President does not need that. What I will do is to bring down negativism because I am by nature a positive being,” she said.

Filipinos need to believe in themselves so that in the course of time, they will believe in others and stop judging others by their own measures, according to Planas, whose Tuesday lunches are reserved at the Sofitel Hotel in Manila as she joins media colleagues in a forum with Domini Torrevillas, Jullie Yap-Daza, Joanne Rae Ramirez, and Frank Evaristo and Deedee Siytangco. <P>Though born of wealth, Planas lives simply. She is quick to give away small sums if she believes in you and what you do. Otherwise, she can be a penny-pincher. The only semblance of caprice in her are four mobile phones that connect her to her eclectic world of volunteerism and charity, family, career, politics church and media.

For years, each Sunday morning, Planas would be seen trudging to a government radio station dishing out advice as well as her irritations on governance, personality development, human caring and relationships, living affordably, herbal medicines and health, about her daughter Biyaya Grace who she personally discovered as an abandoned newborn in her then-domain, the Quezon City Memorial Park, PGMA bashers, responsible parenthood, undignified poverty, poverty of the spirit, and others.

As president of the Philippine-ASEAN China Understanding, Planas has made various trips to China and had been in the forefront of community work involving the Asean member-countries. Spanish-speaking Planas is in touch with her Chinese self.

She was the unforgettable member of the core activist team that helped drove the late President Ferdinand Marcos out of Malacanang and staked her life as she moved in and out of the shadows of the martial law years, eventually living in exile in the U.S. for a time.

Clad in nun attire, Planas exited the Philippines to Malaysia, through the southern backdoor aboard motorized bancas.

But after all those years, nothing much has change in the Filipino mental framework, she said. “It’s the same all the way to PGMA’s time. So where is the problem? I have lived through five (post-independence) Presidents. Negativity is so everywhere,” she said.

”I have no ambitions for myself, I am old but if I can once more still serve a purpose of spreading the good news, that’s enough for me.” (PNA)

RMA/GJB

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