Interview

Kapihan with the Media in Honolulu, Hawaii

Event Kapihan with the Media
Location Halekulani Hotel in Honolulu, Hawaii

PRESIDENT MARCOS: All right. Well, we’re at the end now of what has been a six-day sojourn in the United States. Of course, you were all there. We started with San Francisco. Napag-usapan na rin natin ‘yung ibang naging events doon. And then, we went to Los Angeles. One of my bucket list was to visit SpaceX, which I was able to achieve. Unfortunately, nagkasakit nga si Elon Musk kaya hindi natuloy ‘yung meeting namin.

And now, we are back here in Hawaii and because I insisted that I come and visit Hawaii because I thought it would be a poignant moment for me to come back here as President and to properly thank people like Manong Joe Lazo, to properly thank him for all that they did for us while we were here in — when we landed here in February ’86.

Natatawa nga kami na when we landed on this — yesterday, sabi namin, noong nag-landing kayo dito — ngayon naka-ano tayo, 777 na eroplano. Noon, nakasakay kami sa transport na C-17, doon sa likod ng — ‘yung transport na aircraft nila, oo, and my father was unwell.

So, they are very different circumstances. But it’s always a happy time because despite the difficult circumstances of that period, our time here in Hawaii was blessed with people like Manong Joe Lazo and all of the community leaders here — Filipino community leaders here in Hawaii.

At talagang ‘yung sinasabi ko, as I said, kung minsan hindi mapaniwala ng mga tao, pero ang katotohanan — totoo talaga ‘yung aking sinasabi nang dumating kami rito, wala kaming dala.  We had nothing except the clothes that were on our back. Nothing. We had no money. We had no anything. And they came and for about… The first two or three months, sila ang nagpapakain sa amin. Sila ang nagdadala ng damit namin. Sila ang nagdadala nung appliances para doon sa Makiki Heights na bahay namin. And then we eventually moved to Kalanianaole. Alam niyo ba ‘yun kung saan ‘yun — it is the main street na — nasanay na ako. Hindi niyo kayang sabihin ‘yun ‘no — Kalanianaole. But in all that time…

And of course, the Hawaiians, ang babait ng Hawayano. That’s why kahit… Siyempre, malaking hirap sa amin na mapunta rito sa Hawaii. As I said, in very difficult circumstances. We were able to survive because of the kindnesses that were given to us by our Filipino community and of course by the Hawaiians who really welcomed us to the State of Hawaii, to City of Honolulu. So, it’s been a bit of a sentimental journey for me.

Q: Good afternoon, Mr. President. It’s lovely to hear those experiences that you have had. But on a more personal note, apart from the people who helped you and your family during your exile, what else were your fondest memories of Hawaii? What did you miss most? The places that you’ve frequented? Are you also like a beach person, Mr. President?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, you’re in Hawaii. You have to be a beach person. So, galing naman tayong Pilipinas kaya’t parang napunta lang kami sa one of the islands of the Philippines. So, it was a big advantage in that sense. What I missed most are the people here really.

Because, you know, as beautiful as Hawaii is, ganyan din naman kaganda ‘yung Pilipinas. Hindi ba maipagmamalaki naman natin. But it’s the people. It’s the people who were with us and the locals were always very kind and very gracious. Mga Hawayano, mga gentle giant ‘yang mga ‘yan eh. They look very intimidating dahil ang lalaki nila at saka ang lalakas ng katawan pero ang babait niyan. They are the kindest, they are the kindest people. And they were very kind to us and very gracious to us.

Q: And, Mr. President, just a follow-up. You mentioned yesterday in your speech in the Filipino community that your mother upon learning that you will be coming back to Hawaii mentioned that you should make sure that you go to all the people and meet them personally. Would your mom, the former first lady Imelda Marcos have also wanted to join you in this trip if she were given the chance?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Oh, yes. She would. She would have loved to have come just to see all of the people but she cannot travel. Sabi ko nga kay Manong Joe, sabi ko, ikaw na lang pumunta doon at pasusundo ka namin. And you come here and you come so that you can say hello to my mother. We’re very close with — well with my father but also my mother and the then Ambassador Kokoy Romualdez, the father of our Speaker.

Malapit na malapit talaga sila. In fact, it was Uncle Kokoy who introduced me to Joe Lazo and to the other community leaders that were here.

No, my mother will never forget, can never forget. None of us can ever forget the experiences that we had here. It could have been worse than it was but it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because of the people, because of the people that were…

Q: So, nanghinayang siya na hindi siya nakasama?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Oo nga. But no — she said make sure you say hello to Joe Lazo and I asked Manong Joe to make a video that I will bring home and ipapakita ko sa mother ko.

Q: Thank you, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Thank you.

Q: Good afternoon, Mr. President.

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Good afternoon.

Q: Regarding your visit to the Indo-Pacific Command. Sir, what fresh commitment did you get from the United States in terms of helping the Philippines in securing peace in the West Philippine Sea?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, again, it’s a process. We have many — we are in the middle of many assessments, many discussions kung how we can improve our capabilities, how can we improve our coordination with the US, not only with the military, but also the political leadership.

And that encompass not only security concerns, but it also encompass economic concerns because the thinking in this day is that you cannot be strong or you cannot be able to defend yourself if you are economically weak. And that is the premise that we are working on. And that’s why when we talk about security, napapasama na rin ang mga commitments sa economy, sa investment, sa PPP, mga ganyang klaseng bagay.

In particular, the time in San Francisco, for example, really the concentration was on tech. Karamihan nung meeting namin was about technology and with tech companies. Bagay kasi kasi nandiyan ka – ‘yan San Francisco, Silicon Valley is just nearby.

So, we were able to do that and we were able to begin some significant — we were able to come to terms on some very significant projects and programs that we would like to undertake in the Philippines. We talked about it so much, about digitalization, about cybersecurity. And we made a lot of progress on this trip to make that part of our — that sector of our economy, that sector of our country a better one, a stronger one, and a safer one.

Q: Hi, sir. Good afternoon. Sir, can you tell us more about the investment pledges that you secured during your visit here. What particular sector po are you most excited about?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, considering that these are – these were just meetings that were done on the side of the APEC, they are quite significant. Perhaps they are not as large in the billions like in the other trips but they are in the areas that we are very concerned about. And that this in technology, in healthcare, energy, in security.

Kaya’t napakaimportante pa rin.  I’m very glad that we had a chance to do this so that we can strengthen our capacity for the Philippines, to make the Philippines a stronger economy, make it more secure, make it more resilient.

The APEC is like ASEAN because the aspirations are the same, in the sense that we all recognize the necessity of being more connected of ensuring that supply chains remain robust to continue to…

Ang malaking napapag-usapan was AI. Is how to make sure it’s regulated properly. We all know how we can use it. How you can use it for the things that we want. But what about the things — the unintended consequences of such a powerful tool.

So, that’s probably where the discussion is going to concentrate from now on. So that ‘pag ginamit natin lahat ito, hindi natin kailangan alalahanin na magkakaroon ng unintended consequences na hindi natin ma-mitigate.

Ang mahirap is just what I mentioned in my remarks earlier. Ang mahirap is that bago lahat ito. There has not been AI in the entirety of human history. Ngayon lang may ganyan.

Kaya’t we have to very much be careful about the directions that we are taking. That concern has become prevalent also in some of the…

Si President Biden just signed a document, precisely referring to that, that AI must be regulated, must be monitored, and properly regulated so it’s not used for criminal purposes, it’s not used for fake news, it’s not used for the more undesirable possibilities that AI brings.

Q: Sir, on AI, sir. You said that you want the Philippines to become the center of excellence for artificial intelligence. Were there discussions with tech companies here in the US on how they can help the Philippines achieve that goal?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, we — there were many, some very specific and some were general. And I think what we can — one of the areas that we concentrated on are new methods to bring — to create an ecosystem that is very useful for start-ups.

Kasi kung technology ang pag-uusapan, kailangan bago lahat. So, kailangan ma-encourage natin ang start-ups. Ang problema sa start-up, 95 percent of them fail. But that’s the nature of the business.

So, you have to have an ecosystem that can support that failure rate because doon sa five percent that succeed, ilan ang unicorn diyan? And they will pull up the rest of the — the whole system. So, that’s essentially what we spoke about. What are the new systems that we can put into place to make the Philippines a center of the emerging technologies.

And I think we have met with some really brilliant people here in the United States who are very, very forward thinking and palagay ko kaya nating gawin because in terms of technology, hindi ito ‘yung smokestack industry that you have to have very large capital investments, you have to buy very expensive machines, you have to have big production lines.

Iba ito. It all exists in cyberspace. And that is our — we have a big advantage in that because again, paulit-ulit kong sinasabi but talagang totoo, is our workforce. Dahil bata ‘yung workforce natin, magaling tayo sa tech. Madali para sa atin ang technology. Siguro with the talent that we already have in the Philippines, kaunting upskilling na lang and we will already be at the forefront of all of these technologies.

So, that’s what we were able to explore and it just — it goes beyond just the application of technologies. It’s also how to open the markets to the different elements of the technology, of the tech industry, such as the experts, the engineers, the coders, all of that.

At ‘yun ang ating natutunan. We learn very many things about how the thinking is of the planners in the tech industry and what part the Philippines can play.

So we will — we have made commitments for continued discussions so that we can put more detail into this.

One of the most exciting ones was the opening of the market and centering the market around the Philippines so that we will become a hub of technology. So, that’s something that we have looked forward to…

As you all know, it affects every part of — every sector of society. Kaya’t nandito ang ating NSC and the CS and the Chief of Staff are here kasi kasama diyan ‘yung security. It’s a big aspect to it.

Q: Good afternoon, Mr. President. Sir, we just want to know what are your thoughts or reaction on the impeachment talks against Vice President Sara Duterte?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Well, lahat naman kami mayroong ganyan. So, I don’t think it’s particularly unusual. I don’t think it’s particularly worrisome. You know, there will always be an element that will want to change the results of an election.

So, of course, binabantayan namin nang mabuti because we don’t want her to be impeached. We don’t want her to — she does not deserve to be impeached.

So, we will make sure that this is something that we will pay very close attention to. You know, the declarations of impeachment, parang lahat naman ng presidente ini-impeach. Ngayon, Vice President pa.

So, I guess, it’s just a continuing evolution of that thinking na basta ayaw namin diyan, tanggalin natin, i-impeach natin. Well, wala naman siguro at… Wala naman sigurong dahilan kung hindi lang ayaw sa amin. That’s not a reason to be impeached.

Q: So, sir, wala pong “UniTeam crack” daw na tinatawag?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Na?

Q: UniTeam crack?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: I don’t think so. I don’t think so. Mas tumitibay nga.  Dumadami ‘yung pumupunta sa Lakas. Dumadami ‘yung pumupunta sa PFP. We are consolidating the UniTeam. It’s actually become bigger and stronger than it was before.

So, ayan wishful thinking. These are the same people that talked about impeachment. They are also the same people that, “Ah, wala na, nagbaklas-baklas na ‘yung UniTeam.” Hindi totoo ‘yun.  Tingnan na lang ninyo mga political developments in the past few months.

Q: Sir, last na. How’s your relationship with her po? With VP Sara?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: With?

Q: How’s your relationship?

PRESIDENT MARCOS: Excellent. On a professional level, I have nothing but good things to say about the work that she has done in the Department of Education.

On a very personal level, we get along very well because you cannot campaign for… How many months was that? We were campaigning together without getting to know each other very well. And it turns out that we have… We are very different in many ways and we’re very similar in many ways. But that makes for a good friendship.

Q: Thank you, sir.

PRESIDENT MARCOS: All right. Okay. Maraming salamat. Thank you. [applause]

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