MANILA, January 15, 2005
(STAR) By Marichu Villanueva  -  There has been yet another cutback in Malacañang.

President Arroyo yesterday said she has been able to curb her vaunted displays of temper in public and cut down on her "taray " image in line with her usual New Year’s resolution.

The President said this to hard-nosed local and foreign journalists and the diplomatic corps during the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) Gala Night at Malacañang Wednesday night.

The 57-year-old President said she has been successful so far in keeping her New Year’s resolution and showed her self-restraint during the open forum that followed her speech, which was broadcast live, when she fielded tough questions.

Businessman and industrialist Raul Concepcion took the challenge proffered by MOPC president and forum moderator Tony Lopez to tell Mrs. Arroyo to her face the real situation in the country as seen from the perspective of the private business sector.

Concepcion, unlike his twin brother Jose Concepcion, is not exactly friendly with the President. He told the MOPC forum he had heard Mrs. Arroyo state her New Year’s resolution during a televised interview.

"I have been able to (control my temper) so far," the President said, erupting into guffaws.

During the MOPC forum, the President seemed impervious to even the most pointed questions dished out by foreign correspondent Nelly Sindayen, who asked the Chief Executive to state in public how things were looking for the country in 2005, in light of the bad things that have happened in the Philippines and the tsunami that ravaged Asia.

At the opening of the MOPC gala night, STAR publisher Max V. Soliven set the tone in his opening spiel, saying he wanted to ask questions as nasty as any journalist could dish out but would not do so in deference to Malacañang, the seat of government that served as the venue for the affair.

"I think we made a mistake in deciding to hold this in Malacañang because we seem to be intimidated by this wonderful place," Soliven said. "We have been too polite."

"I have to apologize for not being my usual self, Mrs. President, because I am suffering from jet lag," he said.

The President interjected: "Thank God!"

Soliven asked the President how she relaxes after doing the difficult job of running the country and trying to put things right.

"Well, Sunday is my day of rest," the President said. "Whatever my family wants to do is what I do. If they want to play golf, I play golf. If they want to see a movie, I see a movie. If they want to shop, I shop."

"If nobody wants to do anything in particular, then it is catatonic time for me and I stay in bed all day," the President said and laughed.

None of the members of the First Family were present at the MOPC gala night, though some Cabinet members were there.

The MOPC forum lasted for nearly two hours after the President’s 20-minute speech and journalists who attended the affair had nearly exhausted their repertoire of questions as it came to a close.

At the end, the Chief Executive was calm and her famed "taray" was not in evidence at all — despite the long-winded paeans from supporters and lengthy questions she had to endure.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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