NOVEMBER 20, 2006 (STAR) By Paolo Romero - Elated that the "people’s champ" prevailed again over his Mexican rival, President Arroyo said Manny Pacquiao will always be a hero to Filipinos and an inspiration to a nation striving to knock down obstacles to becoming a First World country within this generation.

Mrs. Arroyo, who was here for the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), said "my heart beats with extreme joy with another victory for the Philippines."

"Manny will always be the bearer of the Filipino dream of winning the good fight in all fields of human endeavor," the President said in a statement. "It was a battle well fought and we congratulate both fighters for their courage and grit."

"He will always be the people’s champ for toughness, discipline, hard work and the ability to beat the odds," she said, apparently alluding to her administration’s battle cry "BEAT THE ODDS."

"We all gathered around in our homes, in places of work, in the streets and farms to pray for Manny," Mrs. Arroyo said, as the nation stood still yesterday to watch the "Grand Finale" bout between Pacquiao and Mexico’s Erik Morales in Las Vegas.

"Filipinos are into the great fight of this generation to share the prize of the First World in 20 years — a fight we shall sustain with our unity and will to knock down the obstacles along the way, facing all challenges with unswerving focus and daring," the President said.

Mrs. Arroyo has been saying that the Philippines’ economic momentum has been gaining ground, but noted that the country would grow much faster if the people would unite and rally behind her reform programs.

Pacquiao was conferred the Order of Lakandula or "Champion for Life" earlier this year by the President for his boxing achievements that brought honor to the Philippines.

The Arroyo administration’s BEAT THE ODDS slogan stands for B-alanced budget; E-ducation for all; A-utomated elections; T-ransportation infrastructure; T-ermination of hostilities with Muslim and communist rebels; H-ealing the wounds of EDSA 1,2 and 3; E-nergizing un-electrified barangays; O-pportunities for 10 million jobs; D-ecentralized development for the countryside; D-econgest Metro Manila; S-ubic and Clark development.

The President arrived here Friday night with a lean delegation of Cabinet members and female lawmakers, including Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, Trade Secretary Peter Favila and Ambassador Benjamin Defensor and Cebu Rep. Nerissa Soon-Ruiz.

She was able to have short meetings with other heads of state including US President George W. Bush.

She was scheduled to arrive in Singapore last night for a series of meetings with foreign business leaders. — With AFP

Arroyo in Singapore to boost ties, call for investments By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star 11/20/2006

SINGAPORE (via PLDT) - President Arroyo arrived here last night for a two-day investment promotion campaign that will involve meeting with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and with foreign business leaders.

Mrs. Arroyo arrived at Changi International Airport at 9 p.m. from Hanoi, Vietnam along with her lean official delegation of Cabinet officials and female lawmakers.

Mrs. Arroyo was in Hanoi for the 14th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Summit.

The President’s retinue in Singapore included Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye, Trade Secretary Peter Favila, and Press Undersecretary Jose Capadocia.

Finance Secretary Margarito Teves and Tourism Secretary Ace Durano will later join the presidential party. She will stay at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Mrs. Arroyo is scheduled to have a series of meetings today with presidents and chief executive officers of multinational firms, including Temasek Holdings, SingTel Group, Singapore Technologies Telemedia, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, and YTL Corp. Berhad.

She is also scheduled to have separate interviews with CNBC and BusinessWeek.

Mrs. Arroyo will have a dinner meeting with Prime Minister Lee tonight but details of the discussion have not been released yet.

Before departing for Singapore, Mrs. Arroyo and daughter Evangeline "Luli’’ Arroyo attended Mass at the Archbishop’s House in Hanoi after which she proceeded to the National Convention Center (NCC) to participate in the APEC Leaders’ Retreat II at 10 a.m. before a luncheon gathering.

The APEC leaders posed for a group photo at the West Entrance of the NCC at 2 p.m. This was followed by the reading of the Leaders’ Declaration.

While in Hanoi, Mrs. Arroyo also attended the meeting between US President George W. Bush and APEC heads of states from Southeast Asia.

She also managed to have "pull-aside" meetings with Mr. Bush and other heads of state.

In her meeting with Mr. Bush, Mrs. Arroyo called for greater US involvement in the peace process and in the development of Mindanao and the country as a whole. She also sought greater US role in Asean’s fight against terrorism.

Bunye said the President "handled the diplomatic circuit with ease, as she engaged other world leaders."

"No wonder she has been consistently described as one of the most powerful women in the world," he said.

"Despite some unresolved issues on trade, the APEC meetings, to our mind, were a success," he said.

He said every time world leaders come together to discuss international and regional problems, "it is positive" for the country.

He said the world is increasingly becoming smaller and "a development in one corner of the globe will, one way or the other, impact elsewhere."

"The world is changing and at no time has the need for greater economic and security cooperation been more important than now," Bunye said.

Fora like APEC and Asean, which the Philippines will be hosting in a few weeks, will continue to contribute greatly to peace, security and economic cooperation, according to Bunye.

"Apec and Asean are good for the Philippines and good for Asia and the world,’’ he said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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