Belated birthday party for Arroyo
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MANILA, Philippines – Detained Former President and now Congresswoman turned 65 last April 5 but some 500 local officials from Pampanga, including those outside her congressional district, threw a belated birthday party for her at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center where she is detained on election related charges.
She later ordered the food donated to the victims of the fire that razed a squatter colony along Agham Road in Quezon City, a few blocks from the VMMC.
Pampanga officials brought with them delicacies from the province that included adobong balut and pork humba.
Arroyo, however, asked her guests to set aside some of the food they brought and for the rest to be given to the 150 families along Agham Road who lost their homes in a fire earlier.
"She (Arroyo) was very happy because of what they (local officials) did but she asked them to bring most of the food to families on Agham Road, so the guests thinned out immediately after lunch because they went there," Mike said.
Among the food shared with the poor residents were lechon, balut, corn and rice cakes. Several sacks of rice were also donated by the Pampanga officials to the residents.
The Arroyos and their visitors first attended Mass at the foyer of the VMMC at 10 a.m. before the early lunch. Also present were their children, Ang Galing Pinoy party-list Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" and Camarines Sur Rep. Diosdado "Dato" and grandchildren.
The Pasay City Regional Trial Court that has jurisdiction over her electoral sabotage case allowed the holding of the belated birthday party from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Arroyo's birthday was on April 5 but the celebration was delayed after she contracted shingles.
Arroyo was detained at the VMMC in November for allegedly rigging the 2007 senatorial elections, a charge she strongly denies. She remains afflicted with a degenerative disease that is weakening her spine.
The former president wished for healing and forgiveness for the nation on her birthday.
"I wish that the turmoil and sadness caused by disunity would end," Arroyo said.
She said it was her "fervent hope that we will be truly united in the pursuit of long lasting happiness and prosperity."
"Let us pray so hard that wounds will be healed soon, with faith and resolve to help one another and move as a nation towards a brighter future," Arroyo said after blowing the candles on her birthday cake.
One of her well-wishers, Candaba Mayor Jerry Pelayo, said Arroyo appeared happy and lively.
"We could see she was looking forward to seeing us. She was happy that she was in the company of her constituents," Pelayo said.
According to Pelayo, no politics were discussed during the gathering, except for her urging her guests to pray for safety amid disasters.