Capampangans and Panggalatoks have a new pride and joy: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the 14th president of the Republic.
Mrs. Arroyo is the daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal, known as the "poor boy from Lubao," Pampanga, and the former Eva Macaraeg, of Binalonan town, Pangasinan.
The new President, swept into power through a popular uprising, often cites the advice her late father gave her: "Just do your best, and God will do the rest."
In Angeles City, the city council could hardly contain its excitement at the swift turn of events. "Pampanga is proud of her and Capampangans are confident that she has the wisdom and capability to lead our country," said Councilor Alex Cauguiran.
Cauguiran, a veteran street parliamentarian, is a convenor of the Coalition for the Ouster of Erap (CORE).
Business leader Levi Laus of the Save San Fernando Movement Foundation Inc. called on his cabalens (townmates) "to extend full support" for Mrs. Arroyo, adding that "people will be more optimistic in the coming days."
He also advised her to "be careful" in choosing her vice president.
"As Capampangans, we are happy and we feel proud," Laus said.
Cauguiran also expressed confidence that Mrs. Arroyo would be careful against "falling into the sins" of her predecessors.
"She is likely to revive a law banning relatives from major transactions with the government," he said.
"She knows history. She cannot satisfy all, but she should now be given all the chance to heal our nation," Cauguiran added.
Pampanga leaders have expressed hope that under the Arroyo administration, two major concerns in the province would be addressed: the full operationalization of Clark as the country’s premier airport, and the rehabilitation of lahar-silted rivers to solve the perennial flooding problem.
"The full development of Clark airport is not only for Pampanga, but also for the entire Central Luzon and the rest of the country," Laus noted.
Local folk have always felt that Pampanga had been neglected under the Estrada administration because of the rift between Estrada and Gov. Lito Lapid, stemming from when Lapid supported Estrada’s rival Jose de Venecia in the 1998 elections.
"We know the new President will not unduly favor her home province, but we expect her to address the two major issues on the Clark airport and the flooding problem," Cauguiran said.
In Pangasinan, noted educator Dr. Salvador Duque, chancellor of the Lyceum-Northwestern in Dagupan City, congratulated Mrs. Arroyo for becoming president at such a critical period.
"I think it behooves all of us to unite especially here in the province to assure and make sure that under the term of a daughter of Pangasinan as President, we should do our part in the building and the healing of our nation’s wounds as the new President has asked," Duque said. – Ding Cervantes, Cesar Ramirez