One Thursday night turned out to be a lucky evening for the author. I had my dinner spent unexpectedly with the current highest official of the Department of Labor and Employment, the Hon. Marianito D. Roque. A classic Italian dinner that for me seemed in perpetuity and most likely, will be remembered for a long time.
The Hon. Marianito D. Roque, Nitoy to his peers, friends and family, started his stint as Secretary of DOLE in 2008. He was the former Administrator of the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA). He was once a teacher. He was one of those government officials who categorically rose from the ranks. He started his career in the government as a Statistician and Planning Officer. Through hard work and sheer determination, he eventually became the person who calls the shot at OWWA and ultimately at DOLE.
OWWA people, whom he had been with longer than DOLE people, regarded him as an action man, a very dear friend and mentor to each and everyone who had the opportunity to work with him and whose lives he has touched.
The dinner happened to be my second encounter with the man who was responsible for the negotiations with the Kuwaiti government for the mass evacuation and repatriation of 28,000 Filipinos during the Gulf war. I first bumped into him three weeks ago during President GMA’s cabinet meeting in Gensan. Having read and heard so much about him from the media, I was sort of starstrucked seeing in person the very dignified looking DOLE Secretary. Having met him personally was already enough for me then and having the prospect of talking while having dinner with him seemed like next to impossible.
It all happened out of the blue. I don’t know what made me beat the odds. It just seemed that everything fell into its’ place and before I knew it, I am face to face and started making chitchat with our mighty Secretary Roque over plates of pizza, pasta and garlic bread.
The brilliancy in him came out as he talks and elucidates on things we were talking about. Truly, the radiance of a true man can be measured if we do not only see him on TV but in person as well. If I admired him by what I saw and heard, the more I admired and salute this government official after having a friendly and cherished talk with him personally.
Thank you, Mr. Secretary and till we meet and dine again!
Looking forward to another rare chance of meeting personally people I look up to in government service and hoping that when that time comes, the tab is on me!