Arroyo visits Metro Manila Cemeteries, visits Pidal family tomb

[PHOTO AT LEFT: ALL SAINTS’ DAY FIESTA: A carnival atmosphere pervaded yesterday at the North Cemetery. Inset, President Arroyo lights a candle and offers flowers to the late Armed Forces chief Gen. Rigoberto Atienza at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio in Makati City. - Bernardo Batuigas]

MANILA, November 3, 2003  (STAR) Having announced her decision to join the 2004 presidential race, President Arroyo did the rounds of hand-shaking and baby-kissing as she visited Metro Manila cemeteries yesterday to celebrate All Saints’ Day.

Dressed in a blue, flora-printed top and plain blue pants, the President visited the graves of her kin with her children, Pampanga Vice Gov. Juan Miguel Arroyo, Evangeline Lourdes and Diosdado Ignacio. First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo is still in the United States for his annual medical checkup.

The President, fresh from her two and a half-day provincial sortie in Mindanao, joined the people making their annual cemetery visits.

Her first stop was at the tombs of her parents, President Diosdado Macapagal and First Lady Evangelina "Doña Eva" Macaraeg-Macapagal at the Libingan ng mga Bayani ar Fort Bonifacio in Makati City.

The President was joined at the heroes’ burial ground by Armed Forces chief Gen. Narciso Abaya who led the military honors for her before the Mass celebrated at the Macapagal tomb.

After the Mass, the President went around to shake hands and pose for souvenir photos with the crowd at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

From there, the President went to the Sanctuario de San Martin de Porres in San Juan to pay her respects to the grandmother of the First Gentleman, Jesusa Araneta viuda de Arroyo-Pidal (1882-1970).

Ma. Theresa Arroyo y Lacson (1916-1930), another relative, is buried at the same cemetery. The President and her children prayed together here. The last stop of the President and her children was the very crowded North Cemetery, where they paid their respects to the First Gentleman’s mother, Lourdes Tuazon-Arroyo.

Western Police District (WPD) director Chief Superintendent Pedro Bulaong arrived at the North Cemetery as the President’s advance party, clearing the area so the President’s convoy could enter the crowded graveyard.

The President waved to the crowd at the cemetery through the open windows of a white Nissan Patrol of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) as the convoy crawled at snail’s pace through the crowded paths to her mother-in-law’s tomb.

The President then got out of the vehicle and walked the rest of the way, shaking hands with people in the shrieking crowd.

Despite the friendly reception the President received from those who saw her face-to-face, others were not happy to see her. Many were cursing at the presidential convoy’s insistence upon squeezing through the narrow alleys of North Cemetery, leaving no space for other visitors to pass.

While Manila City Mayor Lito Atienza succeeded in convincing politicians not to put up their campaign streamers in public cemeteries, some campaigned more subtly. Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos deployed buses that offered free rides to the North Cemetery. — Marichu Villanueva

GMA visits Pidal family tomb in SJ By Marichu Villanueva The Philippine Star 11/02/2003

President Arroyo paid her respects yesterday to her husband’s maternal grandmother whose surname — Pidal — has since become a household word.

The President, dressed in a printed top and plain blue slacks, was accompanied by her children, Pampanga Vice Gov. Juan Miguel Arroyo, Diosdado and Evangeline Lourdes.

First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo is still in the United States, where he is undergoing his annual medical check-up.

The President first visited the graves of her parents, President Diosdado Macapagal and Evangelina Macaraeg-Macapagal, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio in Makati City.

Mrs. Arroyo then proceeded to the Sanctuario de San Martin de Porres in San Juan to pay her respects to her husband’s maternal grandmother, Jesusa Araneta vda de Arroyo-Pidal, who lived from 1882 to 1970.

She also paid her respects to another relative buried at the same cemetery, Ma. Theresa Arroyo y Lacson, who lived from 1916 to 1930.

The family’s last stop was the Manila North Cemetery, where they visited the graves of their other Pidal relatives.

The President and her children lit candles and said prayers, while Presidential Security Group personnel held back the crowd trying to get a glimpse of the First Family.

Opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in three privileged speeches, had accused Mr. Arroyo of allegedly laundering money using secret bank accounts under the alias Jose Pidal. Mr. Arroyo denied the charges.

Two weeks after Lacson delivered his first privileged speech on Aug. 18, the First Gentleman’s younger brother, Ignacio "Iggy" Arroyo, admitted he was the one who opened the Pidal bank accounts but subsequently closed them.

At the ensuing Senate hearing, the younger Arroyo said he opened the bank accounts with Victoria Toh, the First Gentleman’s personal secretary.

Mrs. Arroyo initially distanced herself from the controversy involving the First Gentleman, saying her husband can capably defend himself against Lacson’s allegations.

On Oct. 4, after announcing her intention to run in the 2004 presidential elections, Mrs. Arroyo defended her husband and said Lacson did not have evidence to support his allegations against the First Gentleman.

The President said that Lacson’s allegations pertained to transactions made by private individuals and private funds, and charged the senator of using the issue to boost his own chances of winning next year’s presidential race.


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