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Duterte welcomes Abe in Davao home

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After declaring Japan as “a friend closer than a brother,” President Duterte pulled out all the stops to welcome Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in his home city yesterday.

Duterte hosted a power breakfast at his residence and treated Abe to a durian feast.

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

“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,” she said in a press conference in Davao.

“He want them to feel at home na ito lang po kasi – ganito lang po ka-simple ang ating Presidente lalung-lalo na kapag nandito sa Davao. Naka-polo lang,” she added.

Abe’s journey to Davao City came a day after offering a one trillion yen aid package to the Philippines for economic and infrastructure investments in the next five years. The two leaders have agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation on trade and investments, maritime security, and drug rehabilitation efforts, among others, during their meeting in Malacañang last Thursday.

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

Duterte and Abe, both sporting polo shirts, bonded over Filipino breakfast and exchange gifts during the house visit.

Abe also saw Duterte’s simple lifestyle after being shown his old bedroom.

“Japan prime minister Shinzo Abe inside the simple home of Pres.Duterte. We also showed him how the president enjoys the comfort of his own bed, including his old and favorite mosquito net,” Special Assistant to the President Christopher Lawrence Go said in a Facebook post, sharing photos of Abe’s visit to the President’s house.

Apart from monggo soup, Go said the two leaders ate local delicacies such as biko, suman, kutsinta, and puto, and fresh fruits for breakfast.

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

Abe’s visit to Duterte’s home lasted for 45 minutes, according to Go. The Prime Minister is the first head of state entertained by the President in his Davao residence.

From the breakfast pow-wow, the two leaders traveled 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.

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.

Duterte turned over tokens, including an eagle stuffed toy and a frame 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 spoonfuls of durian alongside Duterte. Abe seemed to enjoy the local fruits and even asked him wife to join the durian feast.

After having buffet lunch, the Prime Minister 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.