By Raïssa Robles
It’s very simple. She need not go abroad for treatment.
The only thing, really, that can cure former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is if the Philippine government drops all efforts to charge her in court.
Miraculously, praise the Lord, she will get up from her bed and walk again in her two-inch heels with a jiggle. Or even dance aerobics like she did so very recently:
Through all the years of her nine-year presidency, I don’t ever recall her being laid up by a long illness.
In fact, the presidential palace took great care to hide even her emergency boobs repair, remember. Or her frequent splitting headaches needing powerful pain relievers.
After she stepped down from the presidency last year, she was even reported to be dancing aerobics. I don’t know if the photo above was taken during or after her presidency. But this is how she looks dancing aerobics.
She even let her helmet-like hair grow a little so that she looked more girlish and less commanding:
But then the presidential palace started making noises about bringing her to court. On the day that President Benigno Aquino III delivered his State of the Nation Address and said:
Tutok po tayo na ang pagkakamit ng ganap na katarungan ay hindi natatapos sa pagsasakdal kung hindi sa pagkukulong ng maysala.
[I am fully committed to the idea that genuine justice does not end with prosecution but with jailing the guilty.]
That very afternoon, reports leaked out that Arroyo suddenly went to the hospital.
To explain her sudden illness, her aides and allies began saying she had been hiding all along a long back illness for the sake of the nation.
I’m skeptical, of course. How could she walk in high heels with back pain? Just try it and see.
Recently, people lobbying for Arroyo to be allowed to travel overseas said of her – her hair has “gone silver” and she looks gaunt and has even “shrunk in size”.
Oh, please. Mrs Arroyo dyes her hair.
She confirmed that to me when I asked her earlier this year when she met with members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap) for a last supper. Perhaps she can’t dye her hair right now because of her recent operations.
As to why I had asked such a strange Boy Abunda-like question of the president, I was earlier admiring her well-coiffed hair up close. It was right out of a shampoo commercial.
Anyway, to go back to the topic at hand, if an ally says she has “shrunk in size”, perhaps it’s because she’s not wearing her usual high heels at the moment.
It’s interesting to see that her illness has to do with her neck.
The doctors finally had to put a steel brace to hold her head in place. One of her orthopedic surgeons even made a joke about the contraption which he called “the halo”. Because of her halo, she is now “an angel”, the doctor even joked.
The picture gave me the shivers. It must be hard for Mrs. Arroyo to sleep with a halo on.
I wondered why her illness struck her neck in particular.
Could there be something deeply psychological about it? That now she can no longer hold her head up high? That now she has been shamed before the entire world?
Just a little over a year ago, people from all walks of life bowed and scraped before her. The crowd always parted like the Red Sea for her.
Two of the most telling photos of her fall from grace are probably the ones below.
For nine years she was hailed as the Philippine Head of State. She was once feted over at the White House by no less than President Barack Obama.
A year after stepping down from the presidency, she had to endure sitting on a vinyl sofa – that was torn in two places – inside a drab office at the Department of Justice, to personally submit her rejoinder to a plunder case that was filed against her.
There were no longer presidential guards to shove away photographers. And horrors! She color-matched the sofa. Nobody told her not to wear blue.
But notice her high heels.
The humiliating experience could have been too much to bear.
Soon, she needed one surgical operation after another.
So, you see, she doesn’t really need to travel to various countries for a third medical opinion. What she needs is for her former “B+” student, Aquino, to stand down and stop hauling her before the court.
On a very off-topic kind of thing, do you want to know what I found out when I tried to find the origin of the word “Arroyo”? Here’s the picture that popped up –
That – is an “Arroyo toad.”
Sorry, nothing to do with Arroyo’s medical condition.
I guess I’m still trying to shake off something jarring that I had to cover this week – two men who lost some of the best years of their lives in detention and now face a lifetime in jail for drug trafficking.
Will Arroyo join them in prison?
I don’t know.