"We got a call from Hillary Clinton's office.." began my manager. I had received an invitation from Hillary Clinton, requesting my presence at her private luncheon in Washington DC honouring her special guest, His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino, President of the Philippines. I was in Asia at the time working on a social enterprise but decided it was an opportunity not to be missed and whisked my way to Washington.
In 7 inch heels, I sauntered up to Hillary's red carpet string orchestra reception wearing a pink Philippine "terno" inspired dress with traditional butterfly sleeves. Warmly welcomed, I was escorted to an exquisitely detailed and decorative suite of rooms, namely John Quincy Adams State Drawing Room and Thomas Jefferson State Reception Room where champagne, canapés and the strumming of a huge golden harp filled the elegant affair.
I met many interesting professionals, do-gooders, faces one sees on the news, Department of State and White House staff and learned these rooms, adorned with the world's most valuable collection of American paintings and furniture, serve as the main stage of international diplomacy for the USA. Proudly easeled next to the fireplace was "The Unanimous Declaration of the Thirteen States of America" and a string quartet in uniform played outside on the Secretaries of State Balcony overlooking Washington Monument. After many introductions and hand shaking, guests moved on to the Benjamin Franklin State Dining Room where I found my name on a centre table along with John Negroponte, head of Foreign Intelligence, Commander of the South Pacific - to name a few.
Hillary Clinton and the President of the Philippines took to the podium as gracious speeches, toasts, cheers, food and laughter followed for the next 90 minutes. During lunch, I was brought to Hillary's table and introduced to the President of the Philippines and Hillary. It was a sensational moment.
After lunch, I spent some time with an extraordinary Filipina/American. She too had been invited to the luncheon. Jessica Cox was born without arms but has achieved so much. She has the Guinness World Record for being the first armless person in aviation history to earn a pilot’s certificate and holds the title for the first person without arms in the American Taekwondo Association to get a black belt. She has a degree in psychology and travels the world as an inspirational keynote speaker. To watch her move with such ease using her feet is astonishing. I thoroughly enjoyed our 2 hour conversation. Jessica has an exceptional perspective on life and she is very blessed.
What a wonderful day! How lucky I was to be invited and I asked why and how. I learned Hillary's staff had researched and selected a handful of the most influential Filipinos doing interesting work in the world and I was one that had been chosen. Gosh, I thought! Am I really one of those? Either way, I am very grateful for having met some incredible people on that unforgettable day.