MANILA, February 23, 2004
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva - President Arroyo became a lola (grandmother) twice over with the birth of another granddaughter Saturday night, this time to her son Diosdado Ignacio "Dato" Macapagal-Arroyo and his wife, Maria Victoria "Kakai" Manotok.

Mrs. Arroyo, who is turning 57 years old in April, broke the good news to the public over the weekend during her campaign sortie in Rosales, Pangasinan.

She told her audience that she received frantic calls from her husband, First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, that her daughter-in-law Kakai was rushed to the Asian Hospital and Medical Center for severe labor pains.

Only last Wednesday, Kakai was rushed to the same hospital for labor pains that later turned out to be a false alarm.

The First Couple, as well as Kakai’s parents, were originally hoping for their first grandson.

Mr. Arroyo told The STAR about the birth of their second "apo (grandchild)" immediately after she was born around 10:42 p.m. Saturday night.

"It’s a beautiful baby girl!" he exclaimed. "She is so pretty."

Dato and Kakai told friends last November that the baby will be christened "Eva Victoria," after the baby’s paternal great-grandmother former first lady Eva Macaraeg-Macapagal, and her mother Maria Victoria.

The First Gentleman recalled with fondness that Pope Paul VI blessed Mrs. Arroyo’s tummy when she was pregnant with Dato. Mrs. Arroyo and her parents, former President Diosdao Macapagal and his wife Eva were then on a trip to Rome and were given a special audience with the pontiff.

"That’s why I think Dato turned out to be very good, napakabait na bata and God-fearing," he said.

Mr. Arroyo said he asked the Pope to bless Kakai’s tummy, heavy with her unborn child, last September. The First Gentleman, Dato and Kakai accompanied Mrs. Arroyo when she called on the pontiff for a special audience during her trip to Europe.

Dato and Kakai were married last May 16 in a low-key wedding ceremony at the Santuario de San Antonio at Forbes Park in Makati City. They flew to Europe after their wedding, and this honeymoon baby was probably conceived there.

Before her wedding, Kakai said she would like to have three to four children, and "if Dato could have his way, he wants to be the spoiler while relegating the task of imparting discipline to me."

Kakai is a senior associate for Debt Capital Markets with the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. She and Dato knew each other for 11 years and went steady for seven years before they decided to tie the knot last May.

The couple live in the Palace, where Dato continues to hear daily Mass with his mother.

Since the President was deep into her campaign sorties, Dato kept her constantly informed as Kakai delivered their first-born.

The President is already a doting grandmother to Mikaela Gloria, her first grandchild, daughter of her eldest son Juan Miguel and his wife Angela Montenegro. One of the cribs of Mikaela, now one year and three months old, is in the President’s room.

At her kick-off rally in Cavite, Laguna last Feb. 10, Mrs. Arroyo was asked during her "pulong-bayan (town hall)" meeting if she will bring along her granddaughter Mikaela for good luck.

"Ang aking apo na si Mika ay ang aking inspirasyon na mabigyan ng mabuting kinabukasan ang ating bansa para sa kanilang darating na henerasyon ng mga anak at apo natin ay masugpo na ang kahirapan ng ating mga kababayan (My granddaughter Mika is my inspiration for providing a good future for our country so that for the future generations — our children and grandchildren — we will have eradicated poverty among our countrymen)," she said.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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