MANILA, MARCH 1, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Delon Porcalla (PHOTO -President Aquino greets Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal at a luncheon yesterday.)

Two officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday invited President Aquino to attend the canonization of Blessed Pedro Calungsod in Rome on Oct. 21 and the National Thanksgiving Mass a month later in Cebu.

CBCP president Jose Palma and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, archbishop emeritus of Cebu, personally extended the invitation to Aquino in Malacañang during a luncheon at nearby Casa Roces within the complex.

The prelates said Aquino confirmed his attendance in the Cebu Mass but deferred commitment on the Rome invitation since there is no definite date yet for the canonization of Calungsod, who will be the country’s second saint after Lorenzo Ruiz.

“To us, of course, being the President, it would be the joy of the whole nation if he could be present in Rome and also for the national thanksgiving in Cebu,” Vidal told reporters in Malacañang.

Vidal said Aquino remained open to attending the Rome canonization, but that he only had to check his schedule.

“We will see, provided you have already your fixed date and we will see if I can adjust my schedules,” Vidal said, quoting Aquino.

Palma, for his part, agreed. “He (Aquino) was saying he’ll try his best to squeeze (in the) Rome canonization and we hope – we told him – we hope you can make it. We would be honored and certainly would be very happy if our President could make it.”

Palma said the Philippine delegation to Rome can always accommodate the President, especially because such honor is very rare, and considering that Calungsod will be the Philippines’ second saint.

“Usually if a head of state comes, that is different and therefore, the Pope is also head of state so they can meet, but it will take some kind of arrangement,” Vidal said.

During their brief meeting, someone reportedly asked if Aquino would have a chance to meet Pope Benedict XVI, but Vidal reportedly replied that there is a possibility that the two heads of state would meet “if he would decide earlier and if it could be arranged.”

The idea to invite Aquino to Calungsod’s canonization was raised during the meeting of the executive committee in Cebu in charge of the preparation of Calungsod’s canonization.

They believed that since one of the seven saints is a Filipino, the president of the Philippines should be present at the Vatican.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda highlighted the importance of Aquino attending the Rome canonization.

“I would just like to mention that Cardinal Vidal... in our meeting mentioned that the process of the canonization started with the President’s mother (Cory) and it is going to end with her son,” he added.

Lacierda said the canonization is “significant for the Catholic Church and also for the Philippines because we will have a second Filipino saint.” “That is something that everyone can emulate and be inspired to follow. This crosses denominational lines,” Lacierda said.

“It’s a thanksgiving for all. I think every Filipino will take pride in the fact that we have, regardless of denomination, another venerable person becoming promoted to a position of holiness,” he said.

“It’s a thanksgiving and a celebration of Filipino bravery and martyrdom. You must remember that Pedro Calungsod died for the faith. So it also showcased the Filipino’s willingness to die for God and country.” – With Evelyn Macairan



Korean TV and radio personality Grace Lee and President Benigno Aquino III have passed the "getting to know each other" stage and are now officially dating.

"We are dating now but we can't take it too fast kasi nga busy siya sa trabaho niya and hindi naman kami nakakapag-date araw-araw. It's not the normal setting of things," Lee said after the launch of her newest endorsement on Monday night.

Lee admitted she has special feelings for the President and that's why she continues to date him.

"I would not date a man if I have no interest or emotional inclination of liking him as a man," she said.

"What do I like most about PNoy? Well, the President is very considerate. Like I've said before, siya ay napakabait na tao at very knowledgeable about a lot of things kaya natutuwa ako dahil sa madami akong natututunan," Lee said.

Lee added that she takes the changes in her life as a blessing.

"Alam niyo minsan, I want to dig a hole and hide. Ganoon ang pakiramdam ko dahil sa hindi ako sanay sa ganitong attention lalo na kapag nababasa ko sa newspaper at sa online articles na hindi naman totoo at very hurtful lalo na at nadadamay ang mga taong mahal ko," she said.

"So I'm not exactly enjoying it, although I take this as a blessing naman. Hindi ba lahat naman ng ito, a part of it is a blessing? Maraming dumarating na projects. Hindi ko naman dini-deny na talagang dumami ang requests for endorsements and projects and that's such a blessing but at the same time at what cause? 'Yun 'yon. 'Yun ang iniisiip ko ngayon," Lee said.

Recently, Lee and the President were spotted spending time at a bookstore.

"Mahilig talaga kami sa music at magbasa ng libro, so madalas naming pinag-uusapan na pumunta doon at bumili ng CDs,"she said.

On Angelicopter

In the interview, Lee also faced the issue involving her and former Magic 89.9 disc jockey Angelicopter.

Lee said she really wanted to keep her silence, but since her relationship with the President has been dragged into the story, she decided to tell her side.

"At ang pinakaayaw ko dito eh 'yung sinabi niya na ginawa ko 'yon dahil I feel powerful. This happened before I met the President. I had not gone out on a single date with the President when she fought with me and, let me be clear, inaway niya ako," Lee said.

"Affected ako because she can say whatever she wants, pero to bring in the issue of me dating the President, why does she have to mention that? It has nothing to do with what happened. That's so childish naman," she added.

Last week, the management of radio station Magic 89.9 issued a statement that Lee and Angelicopter, or Angelika Schmeing-Cruz in real life, had a misunderstanding but stressed that Cruz's overall performance was the reason she was terminated from the radio show.

Magic 89.9 also stressed that it didn't favor Lee over Cruz.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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