How GMA celebrated her past birthdays

Rodneil Quiteles
How GMA celebrated her past birthdays
2014 marks the third birthday of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo spent in detention at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center, where she is being held for plunder charges

MANILA, Philippines – Former president and now Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo celebrates on Saturday, April 5, her 67th birthday.

It’s her 3rd birthday spent at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) in Quezon City, where she is detained for plunder charges.

This time around, the Sandiganbayan has allowed her family to spend 3 days with her at her detention center to celebrate her birthday.

BETTER DAYS. Prior to her hospital detention, Pampanga Representative Gloria Arroyo was able to work in Congress. Photo from AFP

She has been celebrating her birthday in detention since 2012, as she was put under hospital arrest from November 2011 to July 2012 for her electoral sabotage case, and again from October 2012 onwards for her plunder case. (READ: Arroyo in Veterans; arrest warrant served)

Before 2012, Arroyo was free to celebrate her birthday outside – mostly in her hometown of Lubao in Pampanga where she celebrated with her townmates and some political allies.

Let’s look back at how Arroyo celebrated her birthday in the past 7 years. Below is information from her previous celebrations, collated from various news publications.

2007: 60th birthday

Prior to 2007, Arroyo used to celebrate her birthday in her hometown of Lubao in Pampanga, where she attended a thanksgiving mass in the morning at the St Augustine Parish Church then hosted a feast afterwards.

But Arroyo’s 60th birthday – her entry to being a senior citizen – fell on a Holy Thursday, and coincided with the Lenten recollection that she and her Cabinet were scheduled to attend in Baguio City.

Apart from her Cabinet, Arroyo was joined in Baguio City by her family, just in time for her birthday celebration.

She reportedly visited various churches in the area for the traditional Visita Iglesia the following day, Good Friday.

2008: 61st birthday

Arroyo’s 61st birthday fell on a Saturday, but her celebration was advanced a day earlier as she wanted to have a Saturday day off.

Arroyo went back to Pampanga to fulfill her usual practice on her birthday. She heard Mass in the morning then handed packed lunches and other goods to her townmates after.

She still had work in her schedule even on her birthday. After the feast, she led the inauguration of the expanded terminal building at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in the Clark Freeport Zone.

In Manila, however, her birthday was met by protesters who called for her resignation from the presidency following controversies surrounding her administration.

2009: 62nd birthday

Arroyo was again in Pampanga, where she attended a thanksgiving Mass in the morning and then had lunch with local officials and Pampanga priests.

Though her birthday fell on a Sunday, she still attended the ceremonial drive-thru of the Clark South Interchange of the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) at the Clark Freeport Zone.

A suprise gift was prepared that day for her at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila, when a large photo mosaic containing 1,000 photographs of Arroyo was unveiled. It used to hold the world record for the world’s largest photo mosaic.

Labor group Migrante International staged a protest and symbolically gave Arroyo rotten eggs to “signify how foul the stench of her corrupt government is (that) it has reached all 190 countries where OFWs are.”

2010: 63rd birthday

Arroyo went back to her hometown to celebrate her last birthday as Philippine president.

She attended her annual morning thanksgiving Mass straight from St Luke’s Global City Hospital in Taguig City, where then First Gentleman Mike Arroyo was confined a month before.

It was reportedly her first public appearance after the hospitalization of her husband, whose condition had already improved.

Labor group Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) greeted her a “happy ba-bay day” and wished her a prison term for her “countless crimes against the Filipino workers and people.”

KMU and partylist group Anakpawis gave her a cage as a gift to symbolize “the workers’ and people’s birthday wish to put Mrs Arroyo behind bars for her crimes.”

Other militant groups held a metro-wide noise barrage in support of the protests.

2011: 64th birthday

Already a Pampanga representative, Arroyo stuck to her old-time birthday tradition: morning Mass and afternoon feast in Lubao, Pampanga.

A short program was held after the Mass. Her ally, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda, reportedly offered a song number.

Arroyo gave a short speech, where she told her guests that she’s more relaxed and had more time for her family now that she left the presidency.

It was a busy day for the former president. After the program, she spoke as the guest of honor at the graduation rites of Lubao National High School, and attended the dental mission organized by Mike Arroyo’s foundation.

In Manila, a group of protestors picketed outside Arroyo’s La Vista home to call for the ouster of then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, a close ally of Arroyo.

Another group staged a rally outside the Department of Justice to remind people of Arroyo’s involvement in controversial cases like the botched ZTE deal.

2012: 65th birthday

Arroyo was detained at the VMC in late 2011 for her electoral sabotage case, but she was allowed to celebrate her birthday in detention after her camp file a petition with the court.

A Pasay City court allowed her to hold a party at the VMMC covered court, but limited guests to only 500, and set 5 pm as deadline for the party to end.

However, her birthday celebration was delayed – from April 5 to 12, then to 21 – due to her health condition, as she contracted a contagious disease.

In her party, she ordered that part of their food be donated to the victims of the fire that razed a residential area along Agham Road in Quezon City, a few blocks from the VMMC.

2013: 66th birthday

Arroyo, now detained at VMMC due to a plunder case, celebrates her 2nd birthday in detention.

Fewer guests arrived that year as compared to 2012. Some political colleagues were reportedly missing in the party, as some of them were busy campaigning for the 2013 midterm elections.

The feast this year is also reportedly simpler compared to last year’s preparations.

Aside from the flowers that he typically gives the former president during her birthday, husband Mike Arroyo reportedly gave her a scarf and perfume as birthday gifts. – Rappler.com

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