Los Angeles Mass Last Stop on North American Tour
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Philippine President Corazon Aquino wound up a tour of the United States and Canada by attending a Roman Catholic mass Saturday that drew rival demonstrators backing Mrs. Aquino and cause of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Mrs. Aquino thanked 800 celebrants at the evening mass in St. Basil’s Cathedral, and used the brief address to repeat the message of her visit: That Americans can bolster her nation’s struggling economy and help the country’s poor by buying Philippine products.
She was scheduled to depart for the Philippines after the mass, ending a week-long trip that included meetings with President Bush and Defense Secretary Richard Cheney.
″I must say I am overwhelmed by the continued warmth for myself and my organization,″ Mrs. Aquino told churchgoers, speaking in English and in Tagalog, one of the languages of the Philippines.
″Your buying of Filipino products will help our poor and unemployed,″ she said after a service celebrated by Los Angeles Archbishop Roger Mahony and 20 Filipino-American priests.
Outside the cathedral in the Westwood district, police officers in riot gear separated rival groups of demonstrators, one backing Mrs. Aquino and the other, composed of supporters of Marcos family, criticizing her rule.
Some demanded she allow the Marcos family to return Marcos’s body to the Philippines for burial. He died in September in Hawaii.
The crowd of about 1,000 appeared evenly divided between supporters of Mrs. Aquino and Marcos. Despite frequent shouting matches, no serious violence or arrests were reported, said Officer Thomas Wunsch.
An estimated 650,000 Filipino-Americans live in the Los Angeles area.
During her visit, Mrs. Aquino signed agreements with the Canadian government for $104 million in aid for her country’s beleaguered economy. She also arranged rescheduling of $6.6 million of Philippine foreign debt.