MANILA, November 24, 2003 (STAR) By Rudy Santos - American singer Mariah Carey was given full VIP treatment yesterday afternoon at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) as she left for the United States.

Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) general manager Edgar Manda earlier promised that Carey and her party will not be given the VIP treatment after an unpleasant incident involving one of her bodyguards last Nov. 15.

Carey arrived at the NAIA at around 12 noon and was allowed to stay at the dignitaries’ lounge as she waited for the Cathay Pacific Airlines flight that was to take her to Hong Kong and then to the US.

At the lounge, the singer was seen eating a takeout meal from Kentucky Fried Chicken. Five burly Filipino bodyguards stood at the door, not allowing anyone to enter the lounge without a signal from her own security detail.

At around 1 p.m., Carey, wearing a tight white dress with touches of red, proceeded to the airport’s Gate 15 to board her flight. NAIA public affairs office chief Judith Dolot was on hand to assist her and see her off.

Last Nov. 18, Manda said he instructed airport personnel to give Carey and the rest of her party "normal security" at NAIA when they return to the US.

"Just consider them normal, regular passengers. No extra-ordinary VIP treatment, but provide security. If they do request for VIP treatment, they have to pass through the normal channels… and we will provide security only," he said.

Manda explained that people who are accorded VIP treatment do not have to fall in line and can simply stay inside the dignitaries’ lounge of NAIA Terminal 1 while airport personnel process their documents.

"No less than the airport officials are doing (the VIP treatment) for the country," he said.

This kind of VIP treatment will not be accorded to Carey and her group, according to Manda, who said "they will have to pass through all channels. They will have to fall in line. No extraordinary treatment."

Carey arrived in Manila Nov. 15 for the Manila leg of her "Charmbracelet" world tour. Her bodyguards had shooed out no less than Manda and his chief security, retired Gen. Angel Atutubo, from the VIP lounge of the airport when they, along with other NAIA officials, were to accord Carey VIP courtesies.

The singer’s bodyguards considered Manda and other airport officials as potential peeping toms as the singer was having her face retouched by a team of makeup artists in the lounge. The roadies justified the unceremonial ejection of Manda by saying that they had previously reserved the place.

Sources said concert organizers paid for the use of the presidential lounge so Manda, though angry, was not able to do anything.

Eleven of those who arrived as part of Carey’s party left Nov. 17 for Hong Kong without any VIP treatment. They had to fall in line and pass through all the procedures, including body inspection. This group included David Miller, one of Carey’s bodyguards who sent Manda and Atutubo out of the NAIA’s presidential lounge.

Sources earlier said Carey was in Amanpulo, Palawan to avoid any more controversy and may even pass through another international airport when she returns to the US.

Carey was also not granted the honor of paying a courtesy call on President Arroyo, a privilege granted to American teenage pop star Mandy Moore.

There was no official Palace statement on this apparent preferential treatment regarding the two singers, although it was not known if Carey had wanted to meet the President.

The President accorded a similar Palace welcome to Jerry Yan, leader of the popular Taiwanese boy band F4, last Nov. 6.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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