SAN FRANCISCO, California---Food security ,especially rice supply
concerns and a meeting with the Filipino community top President
Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's visit to this little known county in
California (at least for those back in the Philippines)compared to San
Francisco or Los Angeles.
The President is expected to visit Fresno, about a four hour- drive
from San Francisco on Sunday morning (California time), Monday evening
Philippine time, for the first leg of her 10-day working visit to the
She is expected to arrive in San Francisco at about 8p.m. Saturday at
the San Francisco International Airport.
The US visit theme, according to Ambassador and Presidential Assistant
for State and Foreign visits Marciano Paynor, is ''Lakbay Amerika sa
Diwa ng Demokrasya at sa Maunlad na Ekonomiya.''
Paynor said Fresno was supposed to be where the President and
Republican Presidential Candidate John McCain would meet but was moved
to Washington next week as ''he could not make it at the time we
agreed on initially and he requested that the meeting be transferred
to Washington. so, we are going Washington.''
Meantime, Paynor said the Filipino community in Fresno has been
alerted of the President's visit and that it happens to be on a Sunday
so the President would hear Mass with some 600 Filipino-Americans from
Fresno and nearby counties such as Stockton, Bakersfield, Modesto and
The Mass would take place at the Fresno Convention Center.
Fresno, according to Paynor, is the ''center of what is known as the
central valley which is the rice and agricultural center of California.''
Fresno is also known to be the main producer of rice for the United
States and also for Japan, Paynor added.
''A significant portion of their produce is exported to Japan. And at
a time we are experiencing the spiralling cost of basic commodities
especially rice, what better place to tackle or at least to look at
the food security issue than Fresno,'' Paynor said.
Fresno is also an important place for the Filipinos as it is where the
first Filipino community in continental United States was established
way back in 1898.
''It was in Stockton then they moved to Fresno so, you can imagine in
a sense the importance of the place,'' he said.
There are only about 10,000 Filipino families in Fresno or about
The President would also visit the Regional Hospital of Fresno where
there are quite a number of Filipino doctors and nurses employed.
The President would also visit the University of California-San
Francisco Medical Research and Training Center which is headed by a
US-trained Filipino doctor, Dr. Dominic Dizon.
Paynor said the President may have a brief lunch with the Filipino
community and would proceed to Washington DC where she has a packed
schedule that included a meeting with US President George W. Bush that
would tackle a wide-range of issues that affect bilateral relations
between the two allies.
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