BATU, Indonesia. Photo by Jes Aznar

Sunday, June 1, 2008

postscript on the Meralco stockmeet

The corporate war between Meralco and GSIS chief Winston Garcia gets more complicated each day. As I write this, the battle continues at the courts and at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

I meant to update my first entry on the stockholders' meeting held last May 27 but haven't had the chance to do so. Over the past several days, however, some people asked me for updates on it and why I was so exhausted. This, was ofcourse, after Manolo Quezon mentioned this corner in his blog. (Thank you, Sir).

So what really sapped my energy?

For the most part, it was the pressure of coming out with the right story and making sure I got all sides covered (even though I was only there to back-up senior colleague Donnabelle Gatdula).

And then ofcourse, it was everything else. For one, there was the tight security at the gate. The guards did not really know what to do with press people coming in.

When I entered the building, the place was already filled to the brim. Men and women -- serious stockholders or just kibitzers--gathered for the big event.

At past 8 a.m., the crowd booed and jeered Garcia as he entered the building. When I entered the auditorium, I couldn't see much, except for the backs of people standing in the jampacked arena.

My 5'5"-height wasn't much help. I should have worn my only pair of high-heeled shoes but I would later realize that I should have worn rubber shoes and comfortable clothes as we had to sit down on the floor to give way to the stockholders who occupied the seats.

As people might know by now, the SEC, the country's corporate regulator, issued a cease and desist order, stopping the meeting. It was then the start of an adrenaline-pumping, chaotic and noisy corporate event.

Garcia, with booming voice and angry tone, addressed the crowd many times only to be booed, jeered and heckled by the crowd.

It was a long and arduous meeting, leaving me and many others hungry by lunchtime.

During the break, we chased after Garcia for an ambush interview. He dished out a mouthful of lines but some quotes were just hilarious or maybe it's just me. I'll leave it to the readers to judge.

ie. "We will order the freezing of the accounts of Meralco."

"How, sir?" I asked.

"We will write to all the banks," Garcia said.

When we chased after Garcia who went out of the auditorium to vote, a mammoth crowd of photographers and cameramen followed. I was shoved and kicked and stepped on but no hard feelings. It's all part of the job, I know.

TV reporters Karen Davila and Sandra Aguinaldo of ABS and GMA-7, respectively, exchanged angry words, too because one side brought a camera inside the auditorium which was not allowed. The other side reasoned that it brought a camera because the other side already sneaked in a camera ahead of everyone else.

Photographers, meanwhile, were shouted at and scolded by angry Meralco security men.

It was indeed, a rowdy experience. It was tiring but it comes with the territory, especially when one is in a profession which is all about history in a hurry.