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The Phillipine Star - President Arroyo makes pilgrimage

ROME (via PLDT) — President Arroyo and her family flew to Santiago de Compostela in Spain Monday night to go on pilgrimage and enjoy a private get-together before beginning her official visit in Madrid tomorrow.

The brief vacation also coincided with the 60th birthday of First Gentleman Jose Miguel "Mike" Arroyo yesterday. Mrs. Arroyo, her husband and other members of the First Family, including presidential brother-in-law Rep. Ignacio Arroyo, flew to Spain where the rest of the official entourage arrived earlier.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said there should be no question about the need for anybody, including the President, to take a breather.

"It’s the President’s time, she also needs to rest like any one of us. We really need to have private time for ourselves and for our families. That is also what the President will do," he said.

Santiago de Compostela is the final destination of the legendary medieval way of pilgrimship Camino de Santiago or the Way of Saint James.

Until today, it attracts visitors from all over the world with its fantastic monuments. The town is named after the Apostle Saint James ("Santiago"), whose remains are said to be found in the area.

Nowadays, Santiago is the second Catholic pilgrimage center, after Rome. The route from the French-Spanish border was and still is taken by pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

Some 1,800 buildings along the route, both religious and secular, are of great historic interest. The route played a fundamental role in encouraging cultural exchanges between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages.

"It remains a testimony to the power of the Christian faith among people of all social classes and from all over Europe," according to various accounts.

The First Couple were accompanied by their children, Evangeline Lourdes and Diosdado, along with his wife, Maria Victoria Celina, and daughter Eva Victoria.

Bunye said Evangeline Lourdes, nicknamed "Luli," arrived here Monday afternoon to join the family in Spain.

During her official visit in Madrid, the President will meet with King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia as well as Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

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