Bismarck, North Dakota – George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln – great U.S. presidents all, immortalized in an iconic national monument at the Mount Rushmore National Park in South Dakota. The park is one of the most visited national monuments in America, generating tourist dollars for the state.
North Dakota is about to have its share of those precious tourist dollars when the rear side of the Mount Rushmore monument will open on Monday, Presidents’ Day. President Barack Obama is set to inaugurate the new park when he visits Bismarck. Years in the making, the sculpted rearview of the monument features the behinds of the four presidents. The identity of the sculptor remains a mystery and only The White House has that information.
Thousands of domestic and foreign tourists are expected to attend the inaugural ceremony.
North Dakota governor Jack Dalrymple told reporters that the new park will create hundreds of jobs in the state and boost local business.
Manila, Philippines – Presidential spokesperson Herminio Coloma on Sunday said that the allocation of the national budget was what prevented the Philippine government from providing funds for figure skater Michael Christian Martinez who represented the country in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Martinez was the lone Filipino athlete in Sochi and the first Filipino and Southeast Asian to compete in figure skating. He finished 19th in a field of 24 in the men’s skating finals. Many believe he will be a medal contender in 2018.
Secretary Coloma of the Presidential Communication Operations Office said in a radio interview that the priority of the government is to improve the livelihoods of the marginalized members of the society. He said these include, but not limited to “senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, their families and cronies, as well as big landowners like the President’s family.” He added that what was left of the budget allocated to athletics is for sports, which President Benigno Aquino III believes Filipinos have the “competitive edge.” Asked to name which sports the President considered competitive edge, Coloma said, “Gambling, cockfighting and mahjong.”
In the meantime, after inspiring a nation and earning the world’s attention, Michael Christian Martinez is set to receive a $10,000 bonus from business tycoon and sports patron Manny V. Pangilinan through his MVP Sports Foundation.
Coloma said, “we are a nation of laws and every citizen needs to contribute to the prosperity of our country.” Pressed by reporters on what he meant by this comment, Coloma responded, “Michael Martinez must pay taxes on the $10,000 bonus he received.
Manila, Philippines – Philippine Senator Nancy Binay stayed past her usual bedtime so she could be among the first to learn the fate of the Philippines’ lone representative to the Sochi Winter Olympics who was scheduled to skate in the men’s final program last night, Philippine time.
Binay and her excited aides intensely watched, cheered, and screamed as Michael Christian Martinez executed his free skate routine to the music of “Malagueña.” They sighed as Martinez touched the ice with his hands after performing a triple axel. Martinez skated 3rd among the first group of finalists.
When the screen flashed the standings after the sixth skater, it showed Martinez in first place.
Pandemonium filled Binay’s TV room in her plush residence in Makati and champagne flowed endlessly.
Binay then asked her aide to put in a call to Martinez’s cell phone so that she can personally congratulate him on behalf of the Filipino people for winning the Philippines’ first ever gold medal at the Olympics. She got Martinez’s voicemail and left a congratulatory message. “I’m very proud of you Michael,” she said, “and I will make sure you will come home to a huge welcome parade when you return to Manila.”
Martinez, of course was unavailable to answer his cell phone because he was at the Iceberg Skating Pavilion watching the other 18 competitors still to skate. Martinez ended in 19th place when the competition was concluded.
Nancy Binay is from the family of elected politicans that includes the Philippine Vice President, the mayor of Makati, and a Congresswoman.