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PIA Press Release

PGMA attends 9th day of Tondo Novena dedicated to FG's quick recovery

Manila (16 April) -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo motored this morning to the Risen Christ Chapel right beside the Smokey Mountain in Tondo to attend a novena whose final day today was dedicated to the quick recovery of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.

Dressed in a simple long barong skirt and blouse and with open sandals, the President arrived at 9:45 a.m. and prayed the 15-minute Novena of St. Faustina to the Divine Mercy with the barangay residents who came in full force, including the youth in their dark blue shirts emblazoned with "Kabataang Sambayanang Kristiyano" and who led in the singing of the mass songs. The chorale of the said youth group will have an Environment Concert Tour in the United States from May 2-25 as the Presidentís ambassadors of goodwill.

The hour-long mass that followed was officiated by Parish Priest Rev. Fr. Benigno Beltran who thanked the President for visiting the barangay once again, the 16th time that she had come for a visit.

The priest also expressed the barangayís gratitude to the President for the administrationís projects in the Smokey Mountain area which is home to some 3,000 families. The projects include the establishment of a potable water source under the Patubig ni Gloria, a part of the Serbisyo Muna program for depressed areas and barangays all over the country. The administration also continues to build medium-rise tenement homes for the residents who had once earned a living out of garbage.

The parish priest also thanked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for donating a one-hectare lot nearby for barangay projects, plus 5,000 seedlings to plant around the area. Trees have so far grown tall atop the former mountain of garbage which has since been compacted.

The mass was also attended by DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes, and the senatorial candidates of Team Unity led by early-bird former Senate President Edgardo Angara, followed by Prospero Pichay, a limping Chavit Singson, Tito Sotto, Cesar Montano and wife, Vic Magsaysay, and the representatives of Michael Defensor, Miguel Zubiri and Sultan Kiram.

The parish priest called on the residents to vote for candidates who could get the Smokey Mountain finally flattened, and those who could give them more potable water and more residential buildings so that all families in the area could leave their lean-to homes under the bridge.

Fr. Beltran also revealed that he had called on concerned groups to give the youth scholarship grants.

Fifteen units of computers for the Tondo youth were donated by Team Unity whose members escorted the President to the building where the computers were set up.

The President then returned to St. Lukeís Medical Center in Quezon City where her husband has been recuperating for a week now following a major heart operation last Monday. (OPS) [top]

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