The current Secretary of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), Jose Ruperto Martin Marfori Andanar, is only 47 years old and has already made a name for himself as a respected and reliable television newscaster way before he joined President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet. Being a true blue Cebuano, I am thrilled to know that Sec. Martin also speaks Cebuano.
He earned his secondary education from Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro, and proceeded to the University of the Philippines-Los Baños for his college degree but, after a year, he decided to move to Australia where he graduated from Federation University with a degree in Social and Political Studies and Film and Media Studies.
When he moved back to Manila, he obtained a Master’s Degree in Entrepreneurship from the Asian Institute of Management. Wikipedia further states that he took special courses in several universities in the U.S.: Northern Illinois University for an International Visitors Leadership Fellowship Program; Georgetown University for an Executive Course in Public and Non-Profit Management; and Harvard University for a Senior Executive Fellows Program at the Harvard Kennedy School.
He also attended special courses at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore and at Hong Kong University, and added a Doctorate degree in Public Administration from the University of the Philippines-Diliman.
What do all these academic achievements point to? They gave him a very solid foundation to stand on, as he tackles the gargantuan tasks at the PCOO. No wonder he comes across as somebody who is always cool, calm, and collected when handling the many Public Relations challenges of the current administration, and he never fails to brighten the TV screen with his winsome smile.
Now that he is ending his term as PCOO Secretary, he finally had the time to sit down with some media friends and we all had a fun, free-wheeling discussion on anything and everything, no “off-the-record” requests. He was game enough to answer everybody’s questions and even gifted each of us a special loot bag at the end of our session.
His thoughts on the coming elections? He was careful not to mention any candidate, lest he be perceived as that candidate’s sponsor, but told us, instead, that he looks forward to the new government because “whoever wins will inherit a very polarized country, which makes the post-election scenario very interesting.”
When I asked him what he liked most about being PCOO Secretary, he said that having to fix many things in his department towards ensuring an effective and flawless output gave him a great sense of achievement. I can easily relate to this feeling of significant accomplishment, as I experienced the same situation when I took over the helm of an international airline several decades ago, corrected a lot of procedures, and implemented effective strategies, resulting in a sharp increase in the airline’s load factor.
Sec. Martin also proudly declared that one of his department’s sterling accomplishments is the creation of the Government Communication Academy in Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon. It’s the country’s first media training facility and offers technical courses for those who want to work as government public information officers or in private media companies.
And the worst thing about his job? Straightaway he said, “Not knowing what’s real and what’s not!” I empathize with him because that situation is certainly very difficult, especially in his position where he probably had to agonize over making a choice that would affect many people, while not being sure if the available options are real or not.
I wanted to keep our conversation light so I asked him what’s next after his term ends. He’s looking forward to “taking a break for six months or a year.” Of course, he certainly deserves a respite from the grueling schedule he has had for the past six years.
I was almost sure that travel was included in the planned break so I asked him which country he would like to visit first. “Turkey,” because he wanted to learn more and see relics of the Byzantine Empire of the Middle Ages and the Ottoman Empire of the 14th century.
Byzantine’s capital was Constantinople, now named Istanbul. The interesting and rich architecture of this era was characterized by beautiful domes, exquisite decorations, and spacious structures. On the other hand, the Ottoman Empire, which ended the Byzantine Empire when it conquered Constantinople, is given credit for the development of our government, and social and economic systems.
I shared with Sec. Martin the many other interesting attractions in Turkey that he shouldn’t miss—the iconic Hagia Sofia, the hot air balloon ride over Cappadocia’s “fairy chimneys,” a sunset cruise along the Bosphorus, the house of the Blessed Mother in Ephesus, etc. He said he would ask me to help him plan his travel itinerary.
He also wants to visit Italy for a closer look at the great Roman Empire which, if I remember my World History, actually covered Europe, North Africa, and the western part of Asia. To complete his break, he also wants to visit Greece, probably to know more about Alexander the Great of Macedonia, one of history’s greatest generals. I also told him about the popular points of interest in Greece and reminded him not to miss my own personal favorite destination in the world, Santorini.
It looks like Sec. Martin’s planned break will keep him pleasantly busy and definitely “richer!” Busy, as he will fly to and spend a lot of time halfway across the globe, to immerse himself in the many interesting historical testaments that have helped shape the world we now live in. Richer, because I have always believed in what a wise man once said, “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.” Enjoy your well-deserved break Sec. Martin!
YOUR MONDAY CHUCKLE
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