Photographs courtesy of Jenny Peña Bumping into President BBM in Tokyo.

At a very young age my son, Leon, did not shy away from people even if they were strangers. I have always encouraged him to speak his mind out. Knowledge is power, I told him, as I gave him books to read and took him traveling the world with me. We did not just pose for photos infront of monuments and in tourist spots. I made sure that he knew about the historical significance of places. At the age of five, he asked to speak to the manager of a restaurant in Paris near Place Victor Hugo. The gentleman was so amused that our dessert was compliments of the house!

At the age of seven he was a hit with the classmates of my sister, Chris, at Boston University when he started enumerating the member countries of the then Soviet Union and their capital cities and heads of state. Name a country in the world and like an Atlas he would name its capital city and exact location in the globe including its neighboring countries and seas. Shy, he wasn’t. My sister almost had a fit when he started tickling the head of the university’s Graduate School of Economics. I’m happy to report that he got away with it.

WITH former President Gloria Macapagal – Arroyo.

As a student at De La Salle University he caught the attention of then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who conversed with him for a long time during a campus visit as a guest speaker to the annoyance of a professor who wanted to talk and pose for photos with the latter. He accused Leon of monopolising the president’s attention. To this day he has stayed in touch with GMA even paying her a visit at the Veterans Hospital when she was under government arrest. In appreciation, she gave him a kilo of Pampanga’s Best tapa!

As a student he headed the debating club in his school and received a gold medal for Forensics upon graduation. The proud parent that I am, I was on the look-out for workshops for him to attend especially in the fields of business and economics. Once at an Ateneo John Gokongwei Graduate School of Business symposium which I arranged for him to attend as an observer, he couldn’t resist asking the speaker, Senator Mar Roxas, questions introducing himself as a student from the rival university along Taft Avenue.

LEON with mom Jenny.

Leon is my only child, a boy raised by a single Mom. He is now on his own in a foreign land. While strolling in busy downtown Tokyo, whom did he bump into? Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. Knowing him I wasn’t surprised at all to see him up close and personal with President BBM!

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