Meeting with President Fidel Ramos

President Ramos: Good afternoon, your Excellency. Good afternoon, everybody.

Sri Chinmoy: Mr. President, my students and I are here to be blessed by you for the New Year.

President Ramos: I understand you will be staying here in the Philippines for about a month.

Sri Chinmoy: We have been in Manila for about a week, and we are going to Cebu City this evening.

President Ramos: You can observe the peace process that is now going on in our country. It is the first time in the last fifty or sixty years that we have been able to make significant progress.

Sri Chinmoy: We are extremely proud of you for being first in so many things. You are the first Protestant President of the Philippines; you are the first professional soldier to become President and the first engineer to become President. As an engineer you dreamt of being a builder. Now God has given you the golden opportunity to build your nation.

President Ramos: We need the support of leaders like you for the peace process.

Sri Chinmoy: Dear Mr. President, we are coming from Viet Nam. You were there during the Viet Nam War, where you played your role as a supreme leader and diplomat for your country.

President Ramos: In which area were you?

Sri Chinmoy: In Ho Chi Minh City.

President Ramos: I hope you can help the Philippines also.

Sri Chinmoy: We belong to one family. Right now the brothers and sisters are having a dispute. But one day the same brothers and sisters will enjoy friendship and oneness.

President Ramos: This is what we try to do here on a moderate scale among the quarrelling Filipinos. Unfortunately, they have been quarrelling for a long time. We hope to be able to bring peace to both the extreme left and the extreme right — not only in a political sense but also in terms of social justice. We must persuade the more affluent among our countrymen to share their worldly goods with the poor. That will go a long way towards forging a unification of the country. Many of the violent conflicts come from socio-economic reasons — the unjust distribution of wealth. Friends and neighbours start quarrelling when they don't get three meals a day. You know about this famous phenomenon.

Sri Chinmoy: I come from India. There we speak about poverty's tyranny. It is so true!

[Presenting a plaque to the President] I was inspired to compose a prayerful song about you. My students would like to offer this song to you.

President Ramos: I am deeply honoured, Sri Chinmoy. This plaque looks like a masterpiece of composition and art.

[The singers perform the song dedicated to the President.]

President Ramos: Thank you very much. This is the first time somebody has composed a song for me.

Sri Chinmoy: I have selected some of your momentous utterances and set tune to them. My students will now perform them for you.

[The singers perform four songs that Sri Chinmoy composed by setting tune to quotations from the President's speeches.]

President Ramos: Thank you very much. You must have worked very hard for the last one, because I remember I said this only last New Year's day.

Sri Chinmoy: The day before yesterday I read it, and then immediately I set tune to it.

President Ramos: I see. I am deeply honoured that we are now co-authors of one of the top ten! I wish I had brought my oldest daughter with me. She also practises meditation.

Sri Chinmoy: It is our way of life. We pray and meditate and try to be of service to mankind. With our prayers and meditations we try to bring about world peace.

President Ramos: (presenting Sri Chinmoy with a decorative plate) This is a very small token compared to these songs. I would like to give this to you because, in a sense, it represents the government as well as the people of the Philippines. You can keep it at your headquarters.

Sri Chinmoy: For me, this plate is most precious.

We have with us our Peace Torch, which your predecessor held a few years ago. This torch goes all over the world carrying our love for mankind. I would be extremely grateful if you could hold it for a moment.

President Ramos: Yes, with best wishes and appreciation from the Philippines.

Sri Chinmoy: We are most grateful.

President Ramos: Thank you very much for your visit. I hope you will be successful in your efforts.