JANUARY 22, 2007 (STAR) President Arroyo took a respite from affairs of state Saturday night and joined Manila’s glitterati and the jampacked concert of the renowned international pop operatic group "Il Divo" — literally, "divine male performer" — at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

As usual, her surprise appearance at the concert was grist for the rumor mill. The day after, text messages spread that the President was "loudly booed and heckled twice" during the 90-minute concert.

According to the text messages, President Arroyo was booed when she "arrived late for the start of the concert." Mrs. Arroyo arrived at 8:30 p.m., 30 minutes past the concert’s stated opening time.

Several of those who attended the concert said some from the audience clapped impatiently at around 8:30 and there was some booing as an announcement was made that the arrival of the president was being awaited. But the audience stood up, too, and applauded the President when she arrived.

The text messages said the second booing took place after the concert, when guests were asked to remain seated until the President had left the plenary hall.

Although a polite announcement to that effect was made, neither the Presidential Security Group nor the ushers enforced the remain-at-your-places request, leaving the guests to act on their discretion.

There was in fact, a groan of impatience and audible booing from the audience but it died down as it became clear that movement was not being restricted for the benefit of the President.

Il Divo did not greet or acknowledge the presence of the highest official of the land.

There was speculation that the group, managed by American Idol judge Simon Cowell, was unaware of President Arroyo’s presence in the audience.

Bunye cites RP gains from 12th ASEAN Summit (Office of the Press Secretary, Malacanang) Jan 22, 2007

The Philippines stands to benefit from the various accords signed by the leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) during their recently-concluded 12th Summit in Cebu, according to Press Secretary and Presidential Spokesperson Ignacio R. Bunye.

"For ASEAN, the preliminary work done by the Eminent Persons Group (which includes former President Fidel V. Ramos), of drafting a Charter is a milestone that is a great leap forward for international cooperation in general, Asia in particular. It bodes well for the region to increasingly take care of its own political, economic and security needs," Bunye said in his weekly column, "The View from the Palace" which comes out tomorrow (Monday).

"For the Philippines, it showcased the nation at its best and at a time when the economy is going strong, terrorists are being beaten back and the country is a full partner of global affairs," he added.

Bunye pointed out that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was "notably proud of the positive reinforcement she received from the other (ASEAN) leaders on her extensive discussions concerning the Philippine model for peace in Mindanao."

He said that if the ASEAN members adopt this model for peace, the whole region stands to reap the potential benefits such as economic development and security cooperation.

At the same time, Bunye said the ASEAN Summit has provided a perfect venue for the Philippines to project itself as a "competitive location" for multinational and local companies wishing to expand their operations within the Asia-Pacific region.

"Our business delegation offered the Philippines as a strategic location in a fast-growing region, with a well-educated, productive and English-speaking workforce," he said.

"Investors will find abundant investment opportunities in many of our high growth sectors, particularly mining, infrastructure development, agriculture and fisheries, as well as housing," he added.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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