MANILA It was the most important night of the year. As "Show 2001" got off to a start, the hall was packed to standing room only, and talented employees -- mostly Filipinos -- strutted their stuff in aid of local charities.

It's show time. But where's the big boss? Up in his office, of course, working. No wonder: the cares of almost half of the world rests on his shoulders and it was a time of recession. As a foreigner, he could not be expected to take time off from his onerous official workload, not even for a good cause.

But then, to everyone's surprise, the boss appears. Still dressed in his dark business suit, he was invited to the microphone. Immediately he launched into a popular Philippine ballad, showing off such baritone artistry and authority that soon the whole audience was on its feet, applauding and cheering.