Aquino seeking peace and quiet in 'City of Pines'

Aquino seeking peace and quiet in 'City of Pines'

MANILA - President Benigno Aquino III on Friday began his three-day vacation in search of "peace and quiet" after a year of "overlapping disasters."

Mr. Aquino is vacationing in the mountain resort city of Baguio where, according to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, he will spend "quality time" with people close to him.

"Finally, [the President] is able to heed Dr. Enrique Ona's long-deferred wish of seeing him take time to relax in an off-work setting after a series of overlapping disasters," Coloma said.

Ona, the secretary of health, had prodded the President to take some rest - if possible, once every three months - as the problems of the country and other concerns of the presidency were taking a toll on his health.

Mr. Aquino personally dealt with a series of disasters this year, among them the attack on Zamboanga City by rebels from Nur Misuari's faction of the Moro National Liberation Front in September, the 7.2-magnitude earthquake that caused great devastation in Bohol, Cebu and Siquijor provinces in October and the disaster brought by Supertyphoon "Yolanda" (international name: Haiyan) in the Visayas last month.

The President is expected to arrive in Baguio on Saturday but there was no confirmation from Malacañang on Friday whether he would lead the commemoration of Rizal Day there on Monday.

Some Cabinet members and relatives will be with the President during his vacation.

Mr. Aquino also went up to Baguio during the Christmas season last year.

"Knowing the President, he will take advantage of the fact that he has some peace and quiet, but he will still take calls, of course. He will insist on continuing to get updates [from government officials], especially after the [holiday] break," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.

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