28 April 2014

To wrap up the day of his first ever State Visit to the Philippines, U.S. President Barack Obama attended a feast in a state dinner, prepared in Malacañan Palace and hosted by President Benigno S. Aquino III.

Before hundreds of guests consisting of government officials, businessmen and celebrities, the two Presidents enjoyed a taste of Filipino cuisine and joined hand-in-hand for a toast symbolizing the historic friendship between the two nations. President Aquino reaffirmed this strong connection by conferring the highest recognition of diplomatic merit of the Philippines, the Order of Sikatuna with the rank of Raja, to the American Chief Executive.

“Your presence here today reaffirms the strong bond between our nations. As a friend and partner of the Filipino people, Mr. President, you have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to the growth and development of our nation,” President Aquino stated.

He then addressed the U.S. President for the continuing closeness and affection between Filipinos and Americans, as well as the realization for a more stable, prosperous, and more inclusive international nations.

On the other hand, President Obama showed his admiration towards the nation by citing examples of the spirit of nobility, one of which is how the Philippines dealt with the devastating Typhoon Yolanda that, according to him, inspired them because of the resilience and the determination Filipinos have shown to stand up again.

“You bring the same strength and solidarity to our alliance. So let me say tonight on behalf of the American people, we are honored and proud to call you an ally, and a friend,” President Obama said.

Likewise, President Aquino hoped that President Obama saw and experienced that it is more fun in the Philippines and that the country is working towards progress.

“Mr. President, through this brief visit of yours, I am confident that you have witnessed firsthand how such values, our shared beliefs, and principles, can transform a society – as it has ours,” the President said.

This is the eighth time that a U.S. President visited the Philippines. On his second day (April 29), President Obama is set to address hundreds of American and Filipino soldiers and will pay his respect to the fallen soldiers at the Manila American Cemetery in Fort Bonifacio.

*  *  *