ZAMBOANGA CITY, January 5, 2004
(STAR) By Roel Pareño - "Ele un mojer valiente y buen lider (She was a brave woman and a great leader)."

Speaking in the Chavacano dialect over radio station RMN yesterday, President Arroyo extolled the late Zamboanga City Mayor Maria Clara Lobregat who passed away due to heart failure at the Medical Center Manila last Friday.

"Bien alto mi respeto y appecion con ele. Ele es un simbolo de paz y mejoramiento na ciudad de Zamboanga y entero Mindanao (I have a high respect and affection for her. She was a symbol of peace and development in Zamboanga City and in the entire Mindanao)," Mrs. Arroyo said.

She said the 82-year-old Lobregat epitomized a strong leader who was not cowed by threats of terrorism. A series of bombings rocked this city two years ago.

"Ele ta representa con un comunidad vigilante cay ya ace con el ciudad de Zamboanga alerto y preparao contra terorismo (She represented a vigilant community because she made Zamboanga alert and prepared against terrorism)," Mrs. Arroyo said.

The President said that despite their political differences, Lobregat set aside politics in carrying out her administration’s programs such as giving free education, providing housing to the homeless and maintaining peace and order.

"But most of all, I remember Tita Caling as a model of peace and good leadership," she added, also in Chavacano. — With Marvin Sy

Macapagal to kick off campaign with prayer vigil Posted: 11:25 PM (Manila Time) | Jan. 02, 2004 By Juliet Labog-Javellana Inquirer News Service

Macapagal to kick off campaign with prayer vigil
Posted: 11:25 PM (Manila Time) | Jan. 02, 2004
By Juliet Labog-Javellana
Inquirer News Service

PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo begins her quest for a full six-year term in Malacañang with a lot of prayers.

The President herself will lead the four-hour prayer vigil that will kick off the grand production being planned for the formal announcement of her candidacy on Monday.

The President's campaign symbols, including her two-thumbs up hand signal, will be introduced to the public in a program where she will present her team of candidates, consisting of her vice presidential running mate Senator Noli de Castro and 12 senatorial candidates, according to Conrado "Dodi'' Limcaoco, the presidential adviser on media and religious affairs.

"She is the one who wants it. For every major event in her life, she has always faced it with prayers,'' said Limcaoco.

Ms Macapagal, who faces the supposedly formidable ticket of popular movie actor Fernando Poe Jr. and Senator Loren Legarda, will go to the Manila Cathedral for a prayer vigil that will last from 3:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on Monday, the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy.

The liturgical vigil, to be offered for Jesus and Mary, will be followed by a 7:30 a.m. Mass to be officiated by Monsignor Cervo, the parish priest of the Manila Cathedral.

Limcaoco said the President will be joined by the other candidates on her team, some Cabinet officials, local officials, and representatives of various sectoral groups "and whoever wants to join the President in praying.''

He expects De Castro to have a "very visible presence'' in the liturgical activities.

After the vigil and the morning Mass, the President and her team will walk to Plaza Roma for the "short program.''

'Two thumbs up'

Limcaoco said the President's campaign symbols, including her hand signal, jingle, colors, slogan, streamers and even ring tones would be presented by the Spice Boys, the group of young congressmen led by Bukidnon Representative Juan Miguel Zubiri and the President's campaign spokesperson, Mike Defensor.

Ms Macapagal's chosen hand signal was "two thumbs up,'' made by extending both hands forward with the two thumbs thrust upward.

It is a variation of the thumbs-up signal that was used by former President Ramos in his successful presidential campaign in 1992 and throughout his six-year term.

Limcaoco said the "two thumbs up" signal signifies "continuity, same direction and more.''

Fast-rising star Sarah Geronimo has been asked to sing the national anthem during the program.

'President Gloria'

Other Malacañang sources said the President will not be using her initials GMA but "President Gloria'' in her campaign.

And being the incumbent President, Ms Macapagal will be using the colors of the Philippine flag -- red, white, blue and yellow -- Limcaoco said.

Ms Macapagal earlier expressed a preference for powder blue because she said it was the color of the Virgin Mary.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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