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Allergic reaction to flowers kept PNoy from public eye

(Updated 5:13 p.m.) A “missing-in-action” President? Blame flowers.

On Wednesday, President Benigno Aquino III said his allergic reaction to pollen from flowers  had sidelined him for days, including Sunday when heavy monsoon rains lashed many areas in Luzon, including Metro Manila.

Attending to evacuees in Mandaluyong, Aquino said Health Secretary Enrique Ona himself advised him to rest after the allergy attack.

"Payo kasi ni Dr. Ona magpahinga. So nung Sunday, konti lang ang kinulit ko sa kanila nung umpisa nitong ulan na 'to," Aquino told reporters during his visit to Mandaluyong Elementary School where many evacuees were temporarily housed.

Aquino, who had to cancel a trip to Ilocos Sur last week due to the allergy attack, said he is now "more or less" fine.

But despite his absence from the public eye, Aquino said he has been seeking updates on the flood from his department heads since Sunday. "Nandito 'yung Kabinete kong kinukulit ko, since Sunday," he said.

He said he already noticed flooding along Osmeña Highway when he was on his way home from his sister's birthday celebration last Sunday so he immediately asked his Cabinet if they were ready for possible widespread flooding.

"Tinatanong ko kung ready na tayo dahil nga dun  ko nabasa yung red na warning ng PAGASA tungkol sa dami ng ulan," Aquino said.

Before going to Mandaluyong on Wednesday, the President visited evacuees in Biñan and San Pedro in Laguna, one the hardest hit provinces by the monsoon rain that was enhanced by Tropical Storm Maring.

Aquino had been noticeably absent from the public eye in the past few days despite the widespread floods and evacuations that resulted from the inclement weather, but Malacañang said he just didn't want to divert attention from the victims.

Public concern about Aquino's true health condition spiked after his State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 22 was interrupted by at least five coughing episodes.

Malacañang has repeatedly assured the public that Aquino, despite his smoking habit, is in good health and that his coughing is not a sign of illness. He just needs to avoid smelling the flowers.
– Kimberly Jane Tan/KBK/HS, GMA News