Aquino no-show in school rites due to allergy

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President Benigno Aquino III. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

ANGELES CITY, Philippines—After skipping an event in Ilocos Sur on Thursday, President Benigno Aquino III missed another engagement on Friday as he recovered from a pollen allergy attack triggered by flowers adorning the venue of a Philippine National Police event that he attended on Tuesday.

Mr. Aquino was scheduled to be given an honorary doctorate degree, along with Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle, at the Holy Angel University (HAU) here on Friday.

Robby Tantingco, HAU vice president for external affairs, said Malacañang had told the university that Mr. Aquino had not fully recovered from the allergy.

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, HAU chair, was also absent in the event. Tagle said Pangilinan, in a text message, apologized for his absence because he was sick.

The HAU, a Catholic university run by laypersons since 1933, conferred the honorary degree to Tagle for his “inspired use of broadcast and social media in spreading the word of God.” Tagle, it said, can explain “complex thoughts in plain language.”

The university also cited Tagle “for using the force of his example to convince the Church to aspire an attitude of humility, respectfulness and silence to bring us back to the poor.”

In his speech, Tagle urged the young and old alike in the audience to devote time, talent and energy to search for the “new evangelization” of the Catholic Church.

They include, he said, overseas Filipino workers. “Ang mundo ng migrante ay isang malaking sugat sa atin (The world of migrants is a deep wound for us),” he said, referring to the breakup of families as parents or children leave for jobs abroad due to the shortage of job opportunities in the country.

After the ceremony, Tagle met with the group of HAU teachers and employees who began a strike on Thursday over salaries and benefits from previous tuition increases.

At prayers Tagle led at the picket lines, several teachers and students cried, with a teacher, Jeff Tioden, saying he was touched by the cardinal’s presence and sympathy.

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