My job gave me different opportunities to be exposed to a lot of things – from my first SONA experience to my first swimming competition. This time, I became part of the secretariat for an international conference – the GOPAC 2013!
The Global Organization of Parliamentarians Against Corruption (GOPAC) is an international network dedicated to good governance and combating corruption throughout the world. GOPAC has provided information and analysis, established international benchmarks, and improved public awareness through a combination of global pressure and national action.
Representing more than 45 countries in all regions of the world, its members are current or former democratically elected members of parliament or democratically elected members of parliament who have been denied their right to take office and their collaboration is non-partisan.
Dignitaries and Heads of Parliament from around the globe went to the Philippines to participate. The President of the Philippines himself was also present in the said global conference.
Being part of such an event is NOT EASY – believe me!
Dir. Alzate and I were asked to assist 142 dignitaries and 5 Heads of Parliament. Stress and pressure were always present. We eventually learned to live with it.
I am blessed to have a hard-working partner – Director Malou Alzate. We shared sleepless nights as we work together. Whenever delegates would flock in, it seems that we both have a push button for multi-tasking.
We were given individual radio to use so we could communicate with the Airport Group, Police Security, Registration, Transport and the Director General.
A couple of times, I needed to assist a French-Speaking delegate who happened to be part of the Board of Directors! He could not understand me whenever I speak in English and I could not understand him because he is speaking in French! (oh no! language barrier) I was really pestering myself with “I should have enrolled myself to a French class way back in college”. Eventually, said delegate became my friend and we both enjoyed talking through my phone’s ‘google translate’. (Resourcefulness strikes)
Another time, I was approached by a Russian Senator with their official Attache to the Philippines (that served as his interpreter). I find it quite uncomfortable at first – talking while another person is translating my statements in Russian for the Senator and then he would translate the Russian statements to English so I could understand.
I was exposed to a lot of pressure for a number of days. There were times when something unexpected would come up and I needed to make decisions right away. (kung nakakaganda ang stress, beauty queen na ako agad-agad!)
It is easy to look and act professionally smart when you are in your comfort zone but I never thought that I will be exposed to a situation way BEYOND my expectation. It was a real struggle and a true challenge of professionalism and character. I kept in mind that my boss endorsed me in this task and I will not disappoint him.
I was coordinating with a lot of people. Embassies of different countries were calling me to check on their delegates. I was praying so hard for me not to commit any blunder. I am just grateful that God guided me all throughout.
There were times when I felt so tired and stressed out in such a high-profile environment. (Simpleng mamamayan lang naman kasi ako! haha!) I will just take a deep breath as I remember the quote that states: “A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials”. I gave myself a lot of pep talks as I rationalize things (“kaya mo yan Audrey, ilang araw nalang! go, go, go!). I am just grateful that I am in constant communication with my boss who encouraged me and reinforced me all the way.
Before the end of the conference, the Consul of Maldives approached me and told me “The Senate President wants to talk to you.” He ushered me to where the Senate President is who happened to be talking to his delegation and other dignitaries. He smiled when he saw me coming. He thanked me for assisting him and his delegation. He gave me his card and invited me to visit Maldives. He said that they will be glad to accommodate me in Maldives if I have the time.
Another time, I was eating my breakfast alone when Mr. Williams (the President) and Mr. Nye (Resource Speaker) asked me if they could join me for breakfast. Of course I said yes although I was quite taken aback with the thought of having breakfast with such individuals. Mr. Nye gave me a tap on the back as he said “job well done Audrey” (oh, like music to my ears!) I later found out that Mr. Nye used to be a classmate of President Aquino in Ateneo. He told me that he and the President are friends and he is one of the consultants of the President for some National projects.
It is not everyday that I have such opportunities of dealing with dignitaries from different countries. This is such an exhausting yet a memorable learning experience for me.
Now that I’ve gotten enough eat, rest and sleep, I look back to that experience with a smile.