Showing support to the city’s Filipino-Chinese community, Manila Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada will lead the Chinese New Year Parade in Binondo today, even as he debunked rumors of his failing health.
Estrada, who will turn 80 on April 19, even joked that he still has an active sex life.
“If I am not active, that means I don’t want it anymore. I will retire. Will this disappear? If this disappears, you don’t have a function anymore,” Estrada said in jest.
He then pointed to his political enemies in spreading the reports he is sick, following his brief hospital confinement last December.
“I am still strong,” the mayor said. “They are just politicizing, destroying my image.”
“I sleep late. I go around Divisoria. I make sure there is no obstruction,” he added in proving he is still in the pink of health and can effectively discharge his duties as mayor.
Estrada and Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua also led the Chinese New Year’s Eve Countdown yesterday at the Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz in front of Binondo Church.
Russian Ambassador Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev also attended the countdown, as Estrada thanked him and Zhao for accepting his invitation.
“I want to express my gratitude to Mr. Khovaev and Mr. Zhao for taking time off from their busy schedule to grace this event. Their presence will make this New Year’s celebration more meaningful, especially to the Filipino-Chinese community in Binondo,” Estrada said.
Estrada stressed that it was “natural” for a person to get sick and go to a hospital, and that even “[Senator Manny] Pacquiao,” who is a boxer by profession, “gets hospitalized.”
The mayor was confined for a few days late last month owing to an asthma attack, which doctors said was due to overfatigue. He denied suffering from pneumonia, as earlier reported.
“No, just asthma, ask my wife,” he joked, as he revealed he has stopped smoking after being released from the hospital.
Meanwhile, the Manila Police District-Traffic Enforcement Unit announced it will implement “stop-and-go” traffic along the parade route on Saturday to minimize traffic congestion.
MPD Director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel said parade organizers had agreed that roads will only be closed while the floats are passing by.
National Capital Regional Police Office Director Oscar Albayalde will also attend the festival with other heads and representatives of government offices and private sector institutions, as well as local and national Filipino-Chinese business organizations.
Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa has also been invited to the Countdown but has yet to confirm his attendance as of this writing.