GMA  EXPECTING  FIRST  GRANDSON  /  GMA  EMBARKS  ON  4  FOREIGN  TRIPS

MANILA,
JANUARY 17, 2007 (STAR) By Joanne Rae Ramirez - For President Arroyo, there is another good reason to celebrate these days. Aside from the triumphant holding of the ASEAN and East Asian summits in Cebu despite doubts that her administration couldn’t pull it off, son, Diosdado Ignacio or "Dato." The couple have older child, Eva Victoria or Evie, who is turning three next month. She was born on the year her grandmother won the elections.

Dato, who is reportedly running for a congressional seat this May and Kakai, an investment banker, are a low-key couple whose favorite weekend hangout is SM Manila. Kakai says Dato and her have not decided on a name for the new baby yet.

Aside from Evie, President Arroyo and First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo have two other granddaughters, Mika, 4 and Monique, 1 daughters of their eldest son Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo and his wife Angela.

The President is said to be a doting grandmother, who for a time, kept a crib in the presidential bedroom for eldest granddaughter Mika’s sleepovers. She is "Mamam" to her granddaughters while the First Gentleman is "Papa." Framed photographs of the President cuddling with her granddaughters are displayed prominently in the family’s private living room.

Mike Arroyo once said that a monk in a Buddhist temple told him that his first grandson would come from Dato. When Dato was told that when Kakai was two months pregnant, he simply smiled and said, "The new baby is a gift from God, whatever its gender."

GMA to embark on four foreign trips The Philippine Star 01/17/2007

President Arroyo will embark on at least four foreign trips within the first half of the year to boost the Philippines’ political and economic relations with other countries.

Malacañang has announced Mrs. Arroyo’s participation in the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland late this month to talk about the political and economic momentum garnered by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and East Asia summits held in Cebu last Saturday until Monday.

Mrs. Arroyo, with the Philippines as ASEAN chair, will be the lead speaker on the topic ASEAN Economic World Map. She will be joined by other distinguished panelists from other countries.

In another session, the President will be a panelist on the topic ASEAN Diplomatic Agenda.

The WEF is an annual meeting of key global leaders, chairpersons and executives of the world’s top corporations and eminent members of international media, academe and civil society.

As current chairperson of the ASEAN, the President will be representing a region "that is committed to working closely together to create opportunities for greater wealth, growth and progress, that is dynamic and focus of attention of global business and investors," the ASEAN summit organizers earlier said in a statement.

Mrs. Arroyo was supposed to go on a state visit to Kuwait, but the Palace said it would no longer push through because the schedule and preparations were not yet complete.

She said she would also visit India in April and then New Zealand and Australia after the May elections.

The President noted that the Philippines would like to improve ties with India, which had been the country’s source for cheap medicines.

Mrs. Arroyo said she was invited by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when they met during the 2nd East Asia Summit in Cebu on Monday.

She said India’s focus on Southeast Asia now was a welcome development, especially since the countries in this region, including the Philippines, had not been on the "radar screen" of New Delhi.

After the midterm elections, Mrs. Arroyo will fly to Australia and New Zealand to discuss energy cooperation, anti-terror measures and a possible air agreement with Wellington.

The Philippines and New Zealand are eyeing air services agreement and enhanced energy cooperation to increase trade and investments as well as people-to-people exchanges between the two countries.

Mrs. Arroyo and New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark met in Cebu Sunday ahead of the 2nd East Asia Summit and discussed the possibility of forging an air services agreement between their countries to prevent tax avoidance and promote police cooperation.

A statement released by summit organizers said Clark was elated by the idea, saying the Philippines was the only member of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation without an air linkage with New Zealand.

Travel between the two countries would be reduced by as much as six hours if an air services agreement is finally signed, Clark said.

The leaders also discussed the need to tap renewable energy sources and other areas of cooperation in that sector.

The President’s planned visit reciprocates the official visit of Clark to the country last year.

According to Clark, New Zealand has the technology, particularly in geothermal energy, which could be helpful to the Philippines.

On the other hand, Mrs. Arroyo told Clark that the Philippines and other ASEAN countries’ rich natural energy resources were just waiting to be tapped.

The two leaders also agreed that using renewable sources of energy would help the environment and prevent global warming resulting from excessive use of fossil fuels.

Mrs. Arroyo and Clark signed with 14 other leaders the Cebu Declaration on East Asian Energy Security to promote the production, use and free trade of biofuels and other alternative sources of energy at the end of the East Asia Summit in Cebu on Monday. — Aurea Calicaw


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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