Big dinners making Arroyo new Imelda - NY Pinoys
08/13/2009 | 07:03 PM
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Filipinos in New York have found a new "Imelda" in the person of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo who reportedly enjoyed lavish dinners along with her entourage there earlier this month.

"As Filipinos in New York, this degree of extravagance from a Philippine Head of State is both vulgar and, unfortunately, familiar," The New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines said.

The group said that with Mrs. Arroyo's dinners, she looms as the "New Imelda" in terms of spending. [See: Arroyo dined lavishly in US before attending Cory's wake] and Before-NY-Arroyo-entourage-dined-in-Washington-for-15K]

The group said that at the time, former First Lady Imelda Marcos was known for closing entire floors in Saks Fifth Avenue for her million-dollar shopping sprees.

At its height, the Marcos family had purchased billions worth in New York City real estate, including the $51 million Crown Building and the $60 million Herald Center. Ironically, Imelda declined on purchasing the Empire State Building at $750 million, claiming it was "too ostentatious," the group added.

This year, the group noted Mrs. Arroyo's show of extravagance occurred amid nationwide mourning for the death of former Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino's widow former President Corazon Aquino.

It said Mrs. Arroyo could have gone for "simple, inexpensive culinary pleasures" in New York City.

"While the Big Apple is certainly home to Wall Street power lunches, Tavern On The Green, and the Russian Tea Room, it is also home to the $1 pizza slice, the $1.25 hot dog from the street vendor, and the $4 over rice plate in Chinatown," it said.

It added that with New York unemployment reaching a record high of 400,000 in 2008 due to the economic crisis, these cheap eats are becoming everyday fare for more and more New Yorkers.

The group belied Press Secretary Cerge Remonde's repeated claims the presidential entourage had a "simple" dinner at Le Cirque.

"In fact, New Yorkers would be the first to rebuke Philippine Presidential Press Secretary Cerge Remonde's claims that the recent New York City dinner of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her travel entourage was a 'simple' dinner, or the line that such expensive rates are 'standard' in New York City," it said.

Worse, it said this turned out to be the second big meal after one in Washington D.C. where they had a $15,000 dinner at Bobby Van's Steakhouse after her state visit with President Barack Obama II.

"But while the rest of the world was aghast and Filipinos vowed never again to such bawdy displays of lavishness, Arroyo's latest spending spree on her so-called 'simple' meals indicate she may have been taking notes from the so-called Steel Butterfly all along," it said.

The group said it is time to take a cue from 1983, when Ninoy Aquino's death and continued extravagance of the powers-that-be led to a regime's downfall.

"Let us take our cue from Philippine history ... Today, in 2009, with the Arroyo administration embodying these same traits, shouldn't the death of another Aquino, who perhaps shined even brighter, do the same?" it said.

"As Filipinos in New York, this degree of extravagance from a Philippine head of state is both vulgar and, unfortunately, familiar," it said.

It noted that the assassination of Ninoy Aquino on Aug. 21, 1983 triggered protests that eventually toppled the extravagant and tyrannical Marcos regime
. - GMANews.TV