‘Durian diplo­macy,’ Pi­noy break­fast, and Duterte’s ‘kulambo’

Manila Bulletin - - Front Page - By GENALYN D. KABILING, AN­TO­NIO L. COLINA IV and YAS D. OCAMPO

With a visit to Pres­i­dent Duterte’s bed­room, hav­ing one of the world’s rarest birds named in his honor and guided by a sock­less host, Prime Min­is­ter Abe had a morn­ing to re­mem­ber yes­ter­day.

Duterte, a charis­matic politi­cian known at home for his folksy

charm, dropped many of the for­mal pro­to­cols nor­mally as­so­ci­ated with vis­its by a head of govern­ment as he took Abe on a tour of his beloved south­ern home city of Davao.

Fol­lowed by me­dia, it did seem that Duterte and Abe were fast be­com­ing the best of friends.

The vis­it­ing Prime Min­is­ter got a taste of “durian” diplo­macy and warm south­ern hos­pi­tal­ity cour­tesy of the Pres­i­dent.

Duterte pulled out all the stops to wel­come Abe in a friendly and ca­sual set­ting, from host­ing a power break­fast at his res­i­dence to a durian feast in his beloved home city.

Pres­i­den­tial Com­mu­ni­ca­tions As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary Ana Banaag ex­plained that the Pres­i­dent wanted Abe to “feel at home” dur­ing his visit Davao City.

Banaag said the Pres­i­dent made sure the Davao re­cep­tion for the Prime Min­is­ter would be “more re­laxed more friendly” a day af­ter their for­mal meet­ings in Mala­cañang.

Break­fast, ea­gle, mos­quito net

First on Abe’s itin­er­ary in Davao City was a pri­vate visit to the Pres­i­dent’s mod­est res­i­dence with his lovely wife Akie.

Duterte and Abe bonded over Filipino break­fast of as­sorted rice cakes – suman, biko, kutch­inta, puto and monggo soup — and ex­changed gifts dur­ing the house visit. Abe also saw Duterte’s sim­ple life­style af­ter be­ing shown his old bed­room and the iconic mos­quito net (kulambo) that the Pres­i­dent can­not sleep with­out.

Abe, nor­mally blue-suited and po­lit­i­cally con­ser­va­tive who nev­er­the­less showed off his fun side last year when he dressed up as video game icon Su­per Mario at the Rio Olympics’ clos­ing cer­e­mony, ap­peared to en­joy the day.

“This is what the Pres­i­dent wanted ‘yung friendly lang, ‘yung hindi masyado ang ano --- ‘yung por­mal at hindi masyado ‘yung mga pro­to­cols so that they would also feel we are more than friends, we are broth­ers (That’s what the Pres­i­dent wanted — friendly, not too for­mal, not too many pro­to­cols so that they would also feel we are more than friends, we are broth­ers),” Banaag said in a press con­fer­ence in Davao.

“He wants them to feel at home na ito lang po kasi — gan­ito lang po kasim­ple ang at­ing Pres­i­dente lalung-lalo na ka­pag nan­dito sa Davao; naka-polo lang (this is how sim­ple our Pres­i­dent is es­pe­cially when in Davao; dressed in a polo),” she added.

Based on the pho­tos pro­vided by Mala­cañang, Duterte and his part­ner Honeylet Avan­cena pre­sented gifts to the vis­it­ing Ja­panese leader and his wife. Abe’s wife looked de­lighted when she re­ceived a blouse.

Abe’s visit to Duterte’s home lasted for 45 min­utes, ac­cord­ing to Pres­i­den­tial Man­age­ment Staff (PMS) Christo­pher “Bong” Go. The Prime Min­is­ter is the first head of state en­ter­tained by the Pres­i­dent in his Davao res­i­dence.

From hav­ing a warm and friendly break­fast, the two lead­ers trav­elled to the Wa­ter In­su­lar Ho­tel to meet and greet Filipino and Ja­panese busi­ness­men. They granted photo ses­sions with the group with­out de­liv­er­ing any pub­lic speeches.

Pho­tos shared by Go at around 10 a.m. showed Duterte show­ing Abe his bed­room, but th­ese pho­tos were ob­vi­ously taken ear­lier as the two lead­ers ar­rived at the Wa­ter­front In­su­lar Ho­tel Davao at 10:10 a.m. to key govern­ment of­fi­cials and ex­ec­u­tives of the com­pa­nies of both the Philip­pines and Ja­pan.

The two lead­ers pro­ceeded to at­tend a cer­e­mo­nial adop­tion of a res­cued Philip­pine ea­gle by Ja­pan at the same ho­tel. The ju­ve­nile fe­male ea­gle was named “Sakura,” cherry blos­soms in Ja­panese, in honor of the vis­it­ing Prime Min­is­ter.

Abe smiled and laughed through­out the ea­gle cer­e­mony.

Duterte turned over to­kens, in­clud­ing an ea­gle stuffed toy and a framed photo of Sakura, to the vis­it­ing Prime Min­is­ter dur­ing the cer­e­mony.

The Philip­pine leader then in­vited Abe to savor durian and other fresh fruits be­fore hav­ing lunch at the same ho­tel. A live feed from state-owned Peo­ple’s Tele­vi­sion showed Abe par­tak­ing of spoon­fuls of durian with Mrs. Abe, Pres­i­dent Duterte and Honeylet.

The Prime Min­is­ter also vis­ited the Min­danao Koku­sai Daigaku, an in­ter­na­tional col­lege es­tab­lished by the Ja­panese. He was wel­comed by stu­dents wav­ing Ja­panese and Philip­pine flags and singing “It’s a Small World” in Ja­panese.

It was Abe’s last pub­lic en­gage­ment be­fore de­part­ing Davao City.

The Philip­pines was Abe’s first stop in a four-na­tion swing that in­cludes Aus­tralia, In­done­sia, and Viet­nam as he seeks to boost Ja­pan’s trade and se­cu­rity en­gage­ments amid China’s rise to Asian dom­i­nance.

Hon­or­ing he­roes in ‘Lit­tle Tokyo’

Mrs. Abe hon­ored the mem­ory of Ja­panese na­tion­als who spent their last years in Davao City at its ded­i­cated ceme­tery in Barangay Min­tal.

Min­tal is known in Davao City as “Lit­tle Tokyo” be­ing the former site of a set­tle­ment area for Ja­panese abaca farm­ers.

Mrs. Abe ar­rived as sched­uled at 10:15 a.m. and paid her trib­ute at the Zaryu Sen­bou Douhou Irei Tou (Tower of the Ja­panese res­i­dents who have passed away).

She also vis­ited the nearby Ureinashi Ni Ho (Mon­u­ment of No Re­gret) which was built by the Davao City Govern­ment to main­tain friendly re­la­tions with Ja­pan.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.