Speech delivered by Cav Harold Ochoco ’81 to introduce the Guest-of-Honor, the Honorable Secretary of National Defense, Gilbert Teodoro Jr., during a fellowship/dinner on September 8, 2009 in Fairfax, VA.
My name is Harold Ochoco. Together with my wife, Melinda, and our soon-to-be 9-year old son, Harrison, we are very happy to host the fellowship/dinner, for our guest of honor, the Secretary of National Defense, the Honorable Gilbert Teodoro Jr.
I would like to take this opportunity to welcome everyone. We hope that you had a wonderful dinner and enjoying the time as the activities unfold this evening. I would like to thank everyone for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be with us, considering that today is a weekday. I’m sure some of you needed to make the extra effort and special arrangements just to be here.
When my classmate, Col. Sonny Manalo, asked me if I would like to host this dinner way back in July, I did not hesitate at all but I asked him if I can hold off on a decision, since I needed “Divine guidance”. I then called my wife! It was no surprise to me that she, too, was excited about this opportunity. Alleluia! My prayers were answered. But then, I thought, who will refuse the rare chance to have a dinner with someone who has a good shot at the Presidency? Just kidding! As most of you know, we do enjoy your company and our home is always open for events like this.
As the host, I have been given the privilege to introduce our guest of honor. Before doing that however, I would like to acknowledge the presence of other distinguished guests, the Philippine Embassy staff headed by the Deputy Chief of Mission, King Soretta (whose father belongs to Class ’54), Ministers Ariel Penaranda, Arlene Magno, and Vice-Consul Robert Borje (whose father belongs to Class ’65). I also would like to thank Colonels Larry Redmon (from the Pentagon) and Kevin Clark (JUSMAG). Thank you very much to all of you for joining us this evening.
In preparing for my role to introduce our guest, I said to myself that it should be easy, as materials about the SND in the internet abound. I can just do a “copy-and-paste” and voila! I have a ready-made speech. In the process of doing my research though, something changed within me, as I got very much impressed by our guest of honor. He has achieved what for me are those that I can only dream about. So instead of reciting a litany of his accomplishments and admirable traits, I will compare and contrast him with no other than myself. In so doing, I believe, just like me, you will appreciate what an exceptional person he is. Some are God-given, and others are from his own doing and you will recognize, as you get to know him better, that he is his own man.
For the differences, let’s start with the obvious. He is tall; I’m short.
He received his law degree from UP and was given the Dean’s medal for academic excellence. I did not. In the same year, 1989, he topped the bar exam. Very impressive! For me, in 1989, I hopped the bar… of the night clubs in Washington DC.
He completed his master’s degree at the Harvard Law School. That is only in my dreams.
I can go on and on to highlight his achievements and I will just feel frustrated specially that I am comparing myself with a bright, intelligent and a successful man. We call him “Gibo”, and if I continue to compare myself with him, I feel like a failure, I may as well call myself “Bigo”!
Despite all the differences and disparities that exist, I am happy to note that we share some things in common!
Let’s start with the obvious. Good looks! While we try to be modest about it, it is something that both of us cannot hide.
He is a pilot, and so was I. My last unit in the Philippine Navy was with the Naval Air Group, although I did not have the chance to gain much flying hours because I migrated to the US immediately after my training.
I work for the IMF. Our good Secretary is indirectly a part of the IMF family, since his father, the late Gilberto Teodoro Sr. worked there from 1951 to 1960. Later on in our program, I will have a chance to present some materials from the IMF Archives.
There are more commonalities between us, but I just would like to highlight the fact that we both have a beautiful wife!
We were indeed looking forward to meeting Mrs. Teodoro, unfortunately she was not able to make it for this visit. Hopefully we will have a chance to meet her someday. If you don’t know it yet, Mrs. Nikki Prieto-Teodoro is a member of the House of Representatives representing the province of Tarlac. In my research, I have found out and was impressed about her advocacy for the welfare of children. Mr. Secretary, please extend to her our appreciation and admiration for her work. As you can see, we have an impressive couple: strong leaders, both are in politics and good public servants and certainly “presidentiable”. Does this remind you about Bill and Hillary Clinton? I deemed it a perfect comparison until Cav Winston Arpon cautioned me not to compare them with the Clintons for the simple reason that Mrs. Teodoro’s first name is Monica!
Before I turnover the floor to our guest of honor, I enjoin you to visit his website, www.gibo.ph. While it is premature for us to speculate regarding his candidacy until the official endorsement is made by his party, I would like to say that I share his vision, and wish him well with a successful campaign should the opportunity present itself. I don’t know him well personally, but I am like ex-President George W. Bush when he met ex-Russian President Vladimir Putin for the first time: “I look him in the eye and I was able to get a sense of his soul.”
In my books he is a transformational leader who will pursue the following: G – for Good governance, I – for integrity, B- for basic services for the poor and O – for opportunities for all. That is “GIBO”, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m sure the good Secretary can elaborate more on his vision, so please welcome our guest of honor, Secretary Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr.