AT the oath-taking ceremony of Pampanga congressman Aurelio "Dong" Gonzales Jr. as Senior Deputy Speaker of the House, Speaker Ferdinand Martin Romualdez took the hand of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, whom he had removed from that very same post on May 17 for allegedly trying to organize a "coup" against him, and touched it to his forehead in a token gesture of ancestral respect.

It was a custom many of us grew up in, and to this day young people in my old village do it whenever they greet their elders and grandparents. But it was the first time I saw it enacted in Congress. Although Romualdez had been GMA's mentee long before he became speaker, I found something unreal about it. A few days earlier, Romualdez had accused GMA of "destabilizing" his leadership and punished her for it. Now on their first public appearance after that incident, he tried to give the impression that they had already buried the hatchet.

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