Hugs, cheers greet split twins

Welcome fit only for princesses

WIDE-EYED and pretty in pink, the conjoined twins who were successfully separated in Saudi Arabia, returned home Wednesday to hugs and cheers from family, diplomats, and even President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Nine-month-old twins Princess Ann and Princess Mae Manzo were formerly joined at the abdomen and pelvis and shared lower organs. They flew to Saudi Arabia in January and returned home Wednesday, finally separated after a complex surgery sponsored by Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud.

Accompanied by their mother Carina and aunt Jocelyn, the twins were given a welcome fit only for princesses. They were greeted by Saudi Ambassador to the Philippines Mohammed Ameen Wali, Philippine Ambassador to Riyadh Bahnarim Guinomla, and Foreign Undersecretaries Rafael Seguis and Jose Brillantes.

Presented to media at the dignitaries' lounge of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the twins were given flowers, a cake and a large welcome banner by airline officials.

Philanthropist and former Ambassador Amable Aguiluz V announced that he was providing scholarships to the twins which would guarantee their education from kindergarten to college.

Twins visit the Palace

Afterward, the twins along with their parents, were whisked to Malacaņang to meet Ms Arroyo.

The twins' parents Joemari and Carina could not contain their happiness and expressed their overwhelming gratitude to Prince Abdullah, other Saudi officials and the medical team that operated on the twins.

"Now they can grow up normally. Later, they will be able to walk like other children," said Carina. She and her sister Jocelyn had traveled to Riyadh with the twins and stayed as guests of the Crown Prince.

The twins' elder sister Michelle and their father Joemari stayed behind. The whole family had a tearful but happy reunion at the NAIA lounge.

"We want to go home soon so we can return to our normal lives. We will take care of the twins well and guide them as they grow up," said 30-year-old Joemari, a cloth factory worker.

Following the wishes of Prince Abdullah, the twins will be staying for 24 hours in a five-star hotel in Makati City before they fly to their hometown of Mandaue City, Cebu.


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