'GLORIA ROBICS' FOR CAMPAIGN FITNESS

[PHOTO AT LEFT:  GLORIA-ROBICS: President Arroyo unveils her ‘low-impact’ aerobics exercise during a campaign sortie in San Pedro, Laguna yesteday attended by superstar Nora Aunor, singer Pops Fernandez and other movie stars. - Revoli Cortez]

SAN  PEDRO, LAGUNA,  May 1, 2004  (STAR) By Marichu Villanueva  —  Call it a political exercise.

Showing how fit she is for a full six-year term, President Arroyo wowed a crowd of 3,000 during a campaign rally here by doing a brief low-impact aerobics exercise onstage.

To the tune of her campaign jingle "Kay Gloria Na," spun from a popular local song, Mrs. Arroyo was accompanied by her aerobics instructor, Laguna Gov. Teresita Lazaro, three women Cabinet officials and gay comedian Rene Pacunla, an Arroyo look-alike better known as Ate Glow.

Aside from the aerobics exercise, the audience were also entertained by singers Nora Aunor, "concert queen" Pops Fernandez and the Salbakuta hip-hop group during the rally.

But the rally was not all song-and-dance. Mrs. Arroyo, the country’s first sitting president to seek a fresh term since Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, highlighted her administration’s achievements.

"A woman leader was given by Divine Providence to lead the country in the right direction. And I believe in Divine Providence. This occasion reminds us that we womenfolk have a big participation in politics such as voting," she told the audience, mostly composed of women belonging to pro-Arroyo civic groups.

"But we must not forget that our bigger role remains to be as mothers to take care of the health and education of our families," Mrs. Arroyo said, listing her achievements in improving the country’s health care system.

Mrs. Arroyo is facing a strong challenge from main opposition rival Fernando Poe Jr. because of his movie star status. Poe, however, has rattled the country’s business community because of his lack of public office experience.

To lighten up the mood, Mrs. Arroyo had a low-impact "Gloria robics" exercise with her aerobics instructor, Cynthia Carreon, a former classmate in Assumption College.

Carreon once headed the Philippine Sports Commission and was moved by Mrs. Arroyo to the Department of Tourism after her equally tough-talking former classmate had tiffs with PSC officials.

Mrs. Arroyo works out together with some of her women Cabinet officials at 6 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday at the Palace.

She specifically had an aerobics gym set up on the Malacañang rooftop.

Mrs. Arroyo tries to have her regular aerobics exercise in spite of her hectic schedule – even during the campaign – Carreon told The STAR.

"In fact, I am the one worried about my schedule. I might miss tonight’s concert of Andrea Bocelli because we will be having our regular aerobics at the Palace," she said.

Mrs. Arroyo has been inviting female Malacañang reporters to join her on the condition there would be no media coverage.

This reporter once accepted her invitation and found herself out of breath halfway into the session.

After replacing Joseph Estrada in 2001 following a popular uprising that toppled the former actor, the US-educated Mrs. Arroyo promised to give results, citing her healthy lifestyle and strong religious conviction as opposed to Estrada’s image as a drunkard, gambler and womanizer.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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