MANILA, August 14, 2005
(STAR) Despite the political crisis hounding her administration, President Arroyo managed to give a very light and funny interview yesterday with radio broadcaster Tia Dely (Aunt Dely).

The President granted an interview with the radio’s "living legend" of radio station dzRH, in a move seen as part of her ongoing media blitz. But listeners admitted the usually no-nonsense Mrs. Arroyo sounded rather relaxed.

Mrs. Arroyo did not come across as the usual tough-talking Chief Executive; she seemed to be more of a "niece" to Tia Dely as she fielded questions from the grandmotherly announcer, who was openly friendly with the President.

Mrs. Arroyo later said Tia Dely was a longtime friend of her father, the late President Diosdado Macapagal. At the time Tia Dely and Mrs. Arroyo’s father became friends, Macapagal was a legal assistant in Malacañang.

Listeners seemed to be eavesdropping on a private chat between a long-lost niece and her "aunt." At times, reporters had a good laugh listening to Tia Dely make comments about the President that only she could get away with.

In introducing Mrs. Arroyo, Tia Dely took on a reminiscent, if slightly irreverent tone: "Ay naku, hindi ko akalain talagang ito ang nakikita kong prinsesita noong araw. Oo. Narinig mo, iyong nakikita kong one-year-old lang noon dyan sa Malakanyang mismo ay siya kong kakwentuhan ngayon. Kumusta na (Oh my, I cannot imagine this is the little princess I used to see way back then. Yes. You heard me, the one-year-old child I used to see in Malacañang is my guest tonight. How are you)?"

The announcer gave the President ample time to explain herself on various issues, including the allegations that she cheated in the 2004 elections, her backing the proposed Charter change and moves to address the looming oil crisis, among other topics.

The President also received messages of support from Filipinos in different parts of the world as read by Tia Dely, some even coming in dialects and foreign languages that the veteran radio announcer could not pronounce and Mrs. Arroyo could not understand.

Tia Dely also complimented the President. "Ang ganda ng suot mo, ah (Your outfit is beautiful)," Tia Dely said of the gown the President had worn for her State of the Nation Address (SONA) last month.

Mrs. Arroyo replied that the gown was actually her mother’s recycled terno and returned Tia Dely’s compliment by saying Tia Dely was still "glamorous" for her age: "Ay naku, batang-bata pa rin po ang inyong hitsura (Oh my, you still look so young)."

Tia Dely said a lot of people still have faith in the President and that she even heard of someone who lights vigil candles for Mrs. Arroyo during these times of crisis.

At the end of the interview, the announcer allowed the President to address the people. So comfortable was the President that, when she realized she was getting carried away in her speech, she stopped and said "Hello?" — apparently checking to see if Tia Dely was still listening. — Aurea Calica

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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