Philippine president
to visit isles

Arroyo will come here late
next month on the way to
Mexico for an economic summit

By Craig Gima

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is scheduled to make her first official visit to Hawaii next month on her way to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation leaders summit in Los Cabos, Mexico.

Her schedule includes a meeting with military officials from the Commander in Chief Pacific, a tour of the new Filipino Community Center, a visit to the East-West Center and a dinner in her honor at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Arroyo is to arrive from Manila on a Philippine Airlines flight on the morning of Thursday, Oct. 24, and will stay overnight at the Hilton before leaving on a Hawaiian Airlines flight the next day, said Arlene Gonzales-Macaisa, vice consul at the Philippines Consulate General in Honolulu.

Her first meeting will be with CINPAC officials at the Hilton, Gonzales-Macaisa said. She said the agenda for the meeting has not been released.

But U.S. and Philippine officials have been talking about continuing a military training exercise to assist the Philippine armed forces in battling the Abu Sayyaf guerillas and other possible terrorist organizations in the Philippines.

Another joint military training exercise is to begin next month.

Eva Laird-Smith, the executive director of the Filipino Community Center, said a final program for Arroyo's visit is still being worked out.

But the center is planning on having the Philippine president plant a narra tree, the national tree of the Philippines, and for her to meet with Filipino-American war veterans.

At the East-West Center, Arroyo is expected to discuss the continued participation of academic and government officials from the Philippines in East-West Center programs and may give a short speech on her foreign policy, Gonzales-Macaisa said.

The Philippine president may also give a press conference at the Hilton before a reception and the dinner, which is expected to attract 1,000 people.

The dinner is being planned by the Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawaii, which also organizes the annual Philippine Independence Day celebrations.

While this is Arroyo's first trip to Hawaii as president, she has been here before.

In 1998 she made an unofficial visit to Hawaii while she was vice president, Gonzales-Macaisa said.

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