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The ‘First Gentleman’ And the Nation

November 23, 2008

We have a Filipino adage which goes, “Ang sakit ng Kalingkingan, ramdam ng buong katawan,” which translates into, “the whole body feels even an aching pinky or little finger,”


This thought occurred to me late Friday evening at a popular diner in San Juan, Metro Manila when, together with blogger friends and Inquirer columnist and TV host Manolo ‘MLQ3′ Quezon, we got word about the sudden diversion to Japan of the Philippine Airlines jet that was flying President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her official party to the APEC meeting in Peru.

immediate calling news contacts, we learned it was a 10:46 p.m. Kyodo newswire dispatch which first reported that the presidential flight was making an emergency landing “with the Philippine president and her ailing husband in Osaka.”

Immediately turning on the radio monitor as we left the restsaurant, FV colleague Patricio Mangubat and I listened intently as Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita was reassuringly reporting that Mrs. Arroyo hersrelf was confirmed to be okay, but with ‘FG’ Mike Arroyo needing medical attention.

Arriving at home a little before 11 pm, I next heard Mr. Ermita saying the presidential plane was touching down in Osaka within minutes, and with arrangements already being made by Malacanang for Attorney Mike Arroyo’s doctors from St. Luke’s Medical Center to fly to Japan.

Further reassuring word came the next morning that it was not a feared heart attack that downed the First Gentleman but just severe stomach pains.

Now it turns out he suffered indigestion after eating steak.

I am sure naughty guffaws are greeting this news, but surely not until we all got word that the First Gentleman is indeed safe,

For whatever may be our political views, we surely wouldn’t want ill health to befall anyone, and certainly not this country’s first ever FG.

Now comes the matter of the new revelations of former Speaker Jose De Venecia in his autobiography: that Mr. Arroyo allegedly did have direct participation in the dealings with executives of China’s giant ZTE telecoms firm and the supposed bribery attempts to fix the national broadband network contract.

Denials will issue we are sure but Filipinos will take a lot of convincing to believe otherwise.

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