To Obama, it’s more fun in the Philippines
The American agenda as laid out by US President Barack Obama during his two-day visit to the Philippines yesterday has caught the attention of many Filipinos because of the stakes involved in the country’s security.
However, the issue on territory seemed to be upstaged by a latter event in Malacanang that featured three very bold cabinet members, leading the American delegates to exclaim they’ve had the most fun in the Philippines compared to other places they’ve visited.
Cabinet Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said that one member of the US delegation told him ‘Of all the places that we’ve gone to, we really had fun here.’ Almendras quoted the American as he described the singing portion during the Palace dinner held in honour of the American president.
Almendras, with Budget Secretary Florencio Abad and Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson, sang one of Obama’s favourite songs during the dinner, ‘What’s going on?’ by Marvin Gaye, with the hopes of arousing the American delegation to sing with them, including Obama.
The cabinet secretary said that their goal was accomplished since they saw Obama ‘actually singing along’ with them. The trio also managed to get National Security Adviser Susan Rice to join the singing. Almendras commented ‘Ang lakas ng boses niya. Sumisigaw siya sa ‘What’s going on?’
For Filipinos, singing is tied to gatherings and festivities, and the solemn environment of the Palace isn’t immune to a bit of fun as a gesture of warmth for foreign guests. Almendras proudly shared that Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak was also coaxed into singing when the Palace hosted him during his visit.
In his speech during the dinner, Obama praised the Filipino brand of hospitality and said ‘the kindness that you’ve shown us leaves us with very warm feelings and reflects the legendary spirit of the Filipino people.’