, November 2, 2005
(STAR) By Aurea Calica - Members of President Arroyo’s immediate family gathered together yesterday to observe the Filipino tradition of paying respects to their departed loved ones on All Saints’ Day.

Mrs. Arroyo, her husband First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo, their sons Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel Arroyo and Diosdado Ignacio Arroyo and his wife Ma. Victoria visited different cemeteries in Metro Manila yesterday to offer flowers and prayers to their dead.

Absent was the Arroyos’ only daughter Evangeline Lourdes, Juan Miguel’s wife Angelica, and their grandchildren.

It was the first time for the President to be seen in public with her husband and son Juan Miguel, nearly four months since they both left for "exile" in the United States.

The First Family first went to the Manila North Cemetery at around 6 a.m. to pay their respects to the First Gentleman’s mother, Lourdes Tuason-Arroyo, and other departed relatives at the Tuason family mausoleum. The President’s brother-in-law, Negros Occidental Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, was with them.

They then visited Loyola Memorial Park in Marikina City at around 9 a.m. where the First Gentleman’s father, Ignacio Lacson Arroyo, is buried.

After offering flowers and prayers, the President had a brief chat with other relatives and friends and shook the hands with people who waited to greet her. Some even took photos with her using their cell phones that had digital cameras.

At 4:30 p.m., Mrs. Arroyo and her family visited the graves of her parents, President Diosdado Macapagal and Evangelina Macaraeg-Macapagal, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at Fort Bonifacio in Makati City.

Evangeline Lourdes had joined them by then and she read the first reading of the Scriptures during Mass while Maria Victoria did the second reading. The Mass was officiated by the Philippine Army chaplain.

The First Family then had a reunion with the Macapagal family, relatives and friends, sharing food and stories.

Some ranking police and military officials joined the First Family at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Mrs. Arroyo’s husband and eldest son, along with his family, decided to leave in July at the height of the jueteng scandal where the two of them, along with the First Gentleman’s congressman-brother, were implicated.

The three were said to have received payoffs from illegal gambling operators but they denied the allegations.

Mrs. Arroyo said that was the sacrifice that her family had to make to remove distractions to her governance as her husband appeared to be a magnet for controversies.

She faced calls for her resignation, the impeachment attempt and protest rallies with only her daughter and her youngest son and his family for company. Mrs. Arroyo was accused of rigging last year’s election results in her favor, triggering moves to make her resign or oust her from office.

Since he first left for the US, the First Gentleman has returned to Manila twice to attend to family matters. Juan Miguel, on the other hand, came home with his family for a short visit in September before leaving again for the US.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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