HE REMAINS THE SAME – Always a pleasure to talk to Arnel Ignacio. He’s funny, witty, sensible, at times serious. Always simple and straight-talking.
He remains the same to date… even if he carries the impressive title Vice President for Community Relations and Services of PAGCOR, headed by former Congresswoman and Bureau of Immigration and Deportation Commissioner Andrea Domingo. The task ahead is awesome, but Arnel refuses to be intimidated, vowing to do his very best… even if he has to sacrifice his showbiz career.
Public service isn’t really new to Arnel. In his capacity as a private citizen, he extends assistance to those who come to him for all sorts of help, mostly medical. Which will be his main concern as PAGCOR VP.
Of course, bashers question his educational credentials. Well, Arnel is a product of the University of the Philippines, starting with architecture and then shifting to music.
HEALTH CONCERNS – In compliance with the directive of President Duterte, the Budget of PAGCOR (amounting to many billions) will be concentrated on health concerns. Arnel discloses that the national government has 67 hospitals, local government 33, with 13 rehab facilities scattered all over the country.
A tough task, indeed, as most of those hospitals are in bad shape, in dire need of new equipment, medicines, doctors, and nurses. Hundreds of thousands of poor patients need urgent medical assistance.
PAGCOR casinos also embark on feeding programs, at least 4,000 kids in each branch. Arnel will see to it that nutritious and delicious food is served.
APPLICANT – Arnel says he applied for the PAGCOR job, submitting mountains of papers in the process, “Ganoon talaga sa gobyerno.” Of course, it helped that he was a Duterte supportive.
He recalls that he attended almost every Duterte rally incognito, “Hindi ako kilala ni Presidente.” That is until the mammoth “miting de avance” in Luneta, where Honeylet Avanceña (the President’s partner) pulled him out of the crowd and introduced him to Duterte.
But when Duterte won, Arnel was asked to help emcee victory rallies along with other showbiz folks. “Sasabihin ni Presidente, ‘Dito kayo sa tabi ko’. Simpleng-simpleng tao.”
‘MATAPANG’ – As of this writing, Arnel Ignacio isn’t getting paid yet, government red tapes being what it is. But on his own, Arnel started visiting hospitals, including those in Mindanao hinterlands.
Arnel was told Duterte commented, “Matapang ang binabaeng ’yan,” joking, “hindi ko siya tutubusin ’pag kinidnap ng Abu Sayyaf.”
To date, Duterte can’t remember Arnel’s full name.
Arnel has a 20-year-old daughter, Sofia, who one time told the President she had an important “message.” Arnel recalls that the President actually listened to Sofia for some 20 minutes.
At 52, Arnel doesn’t fear whatever comes his way, including bashers and critics who call him “baklang laos.” Ang sagot ko, “At least sumikat pala ako. O, kayo?”
“Matapang,” fearless, indeed.