POSTSCRIPT / October 5, 2003 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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GMA draws clearer battle lines for 2004

FALLING INTO PLACE: Last time we checked, which was yesterday, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was qualified to run for president in the May 2004 election.

We see no reason then why anybody would froth in the mouth denouncing her decision announced yesterday at Clark Field to seek her own presidential mandate.

As expected, the politicians’ reactions were generally along party lines. The opposition assailed her taking back her declaration last December that she had given up presidential aspirations, while her party mates welcomed it.

If what her detractors say is true that GMA is a weak and beatable candidate, the opposition should be happy that she is the upcoming standard bearer of the administration coalition. Why are they complaining?

If only because GMA’s announcement clears the air of unhealthy speculations, we welcome it. With the main player having taken her place, it would be easier now for the rest of the political pieces to fall into place. That’s good for everybody.

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LOREN A FREE SPIRIT: Among those who had anticipated this coming-out of GMA was Senate Majority Leader Loren Legarda, who left the administration Lakas party to pursue her aspiration of serving as vice president on her way to the presidency.

An Arroyo-Legarda teamup of two women in 2004 would have been an odd and unlikely spectacle. Had she stayed with Lakas, Legarda would have had to wait seven long years to have a crack at the vice presidency — or the presidency.

(Her partisans can discount this sexist line, however, since Legarda’s resignation came two days before GMA formally announced her presidential plans.)

Her leaving Lakas is neither disloyalty nor opportunism, because she was not moving to a waiting slot in another party. She took the gamble of suddenly being a free spirit, an independent vice presidential aspirant for 2004.

But with the values that she can bring to an adoptive party, we expect many groups to elbow one another to get her.

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MIGRATIONS: The resignation of Legarda, who was a Lakas vice president, followed by the resignation of Lakas president Teofisto Guingona must have registered with the administration as a tremor of considerable intensity.

The departure of the two stalwarts could have triggered an exodus, however mild, had not GMA opened her cards immediately and started the drawing of clearer battle lines.

There will be realignment all right, in both directions, but such migrations and the trading of loyalties will be more rational now that GMA’s announcement has cleared the air of speculative smoke.

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NO U.S. STAMP: Among those relieved with GMA’s announcement was probably US Ambassador Francis J. Ricciardone, whose president is coming in a few days for a brief visit on his way to Bangkok for the Asia-Pacific economic summit.

Had GMA declared her intention to run in 2004 during or right after the visit of President George W. Bush, there could have been the spin, intentional or not, that the American president encouraged or endorsed GMA’s candidacy.

Most Filipinos are mindful of what America wants to happen in these islands. Despite the noisy anti-US rhetoric in the media, the capital and urban centers, Filipinos are pro-American by and large.

A presidential candidate thought to enjoy US support gets a boost. American endorsement is more of an asset than a liability. Expect GMA spin masters to try picturing her as stamped with the Good Housekeeping seal of the White House.

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LIGHT MYSTERIES: October is the month of the Holy Rosary (meaning “Crown of Roses”). The period sees a heightened religiosity among the faithful, a renewal of fervent devotion to the Virgin Mary and a more frequent praying of the Rosary.

But many Filipino Catholics are still unaware that aside from the traditional three sets of mysteries of the Rosary — namely, the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious mysteries — a fourth set called the Light mysteries was added last year.

The Joyful mysteries are now meditated on with the Rosary on Monday and Saturday; the Sorrowful mysteries on Tuesday and Friday; and the Glorious mysteries on Wednesday and Sundays. Thursday is for the Light mysteries.

In all her apparitions, Mary invited the faithful to pray the Rosary, describing it as a powerful weapon against evil and a means to attaining true peace.

John Paul II with his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae of Oct. 16, 2002, has added the five new Mysteries of the Light.

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LIGHT FOOTNOTES: With the indulgence of those who already know, the new Light mysteries are:

  1. The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan.As Christ descended into the river, the heavens opened and the voice of the Father declared Him the beloved Son, while the Spirit descended on Him to invest Him with the mission that He is to carry out.
  2. The Wedding at Cana in Galilee.In Cana was the first miracle wrought during Christ’s public life. He changed water into wine during a wedding feast and opened the hearts of the disciples to faith, thanks to the intervention of Mother Mary, the first among believers.
  3. The Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.Proclaiming the coming of the Kingdom of God, Christ called to conversion and forgave the sins of all who come to Him in humble trust. Thus began the ministry of mercy, particularly through the Sacrament of Reconciliation that He has entrusted to His Church.
  4. The Transfiguration.In the Transfiguration, believed to have taken place on Mount Tabor, the glory of the Godhead shone forth from the face of Christ as the Father commanded the astonished Apostles to listen to Him and prepare to experience with Him the agony of the Passion, so as to come with Him to the joy of the Resurrection and a life transfigured by the Holy Spirit.
  5. The Institution of the Eucharist.At the Last Supper. Christ took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” He said to them. He testified “to the end” His love for humanity, for whose salvation He was about to offer Himself in the supreme sacrifice.
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(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 5, 2003)

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