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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, March 8, 2012
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Hug stirs controversy

HINIGARAN, Negros Occidental -- The hug the late Rep. Ignacio “Iggy” Arroyo’s partner Grace Ibuna gave Alelu Arroyo, 14, the daughter of the congressman’s second wife Aleli Arroyo, at his wake at the St. Mary Magdalene Church here yesterday afternoon stirred a buzz among those present.

At about 4 p.m. during the public viewing of the remains of the congressman, Ibuna and Dina Arroyo Tantoco were standing by the coffin when Alelu approached to get a glimpse of her father.

Ibuna suddenly hugged Alelu tightly, catching the attention of the people in the church, as shown on national television.

But Ibuna later stressed that she wants the congressman’s burial to be as disgnified as possible, she does not want their life to be a “teleserye”.

Ibuna said that, when she hugged Alelu, “That was sincerely from my heart. I promised Cong Iggy that I would love all those he loved.

“For the sake of Iggy’s soul so he will go to heaven happilly, I reached out,” Ibuna said.

Alelu, however, stressed that she did not hug Ibuna. “She grabbed me. I just want to forget that horrible event, it was disgusting,” she said.

She went near the coffin to see her sister Dina and look at her dad, Alelu said.

“I never thought I would be grabbed, because I refused to shake her (Ibuna’s) hand. I only said good afternoon, because I did not want to touch her,” Alelu said.

Alelu also said she hopes that, in the future, Ibuna does not approach her again.”I seriously want that event to be forgotten and I don’t ever want it to be shown on the news again,” she said.

“I only came to grieve for my dad , with my family and friends, not to be used and humiliated,” she added.

Meanwhile, Alelu said “I feel happy and at peace when I think of my dad,remembering his warmth and gentleness. Not only was he loving but he was also the coolest and handsomest father anyone could ask for.”

Alelu, like her sisters, wore a T-shirt with the words “My world revolved around Iggy Arroyo” printed on it.

Ibuna, between sobs, said, “I hold no grudge, I hold no ill feelings. I can accept everything for the sake of Iggy.”

“The people of the fifth district and all those who know me know that I am basically a peace-loving person. In fact, I think that one thing Iggy loved about me, is I’m bubbly so I don’t want to have an enemy. That’s why I miss Cong. Iggy because we were happy,” she said.

Several times yesterday Ibuna wept in the arms of people who came to the wake, when she opened the casket of the congressman to touch him, and when she watched photos of their life together flashed on the widescreen.

The congressman’s daughter, Dina Arroyo Tantoco, in a television interview said, “It is really just sad about my dad passing away...The reality is (that) there is controversy. We are dealing with a loss and prefer not to deal with anything else.”

Aleli and Alelu left Hinigaran to return to Manila, shortly before the start of the 6 p.m. mass for the congressman yesterday officiated by Msgr. Victorino Rivas and Fr. Greg Patinio.

During the mass, Ibuna sat on the left front pew beside Himamaylan Vice Mayor Carmenia Bascon and her husband, Oscar, while Former Gentleman Mike Arroyo and her sister, Ma. Lourdes Arroyo Lesaca, sat about 10 meters away, on the white seats reserved for family on the right side near the altar.*CPG/GPB

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