MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte hosted on Thursday night a state banquet for His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, Sultan and Yang Di Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam who arrived in the country for a state visit and attendance to the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
In his toast, President Duterte hailed Brunei Darussalam as the Philippines’ “most valued friend and ally.”
“We have more than three decades of vibrant formal diplomatic relations and centuries of enduring ties at the grassroots,” he said.
“We aspire and work for a greater peace, progress and prosperity for our peoples, nations, and regions. That is the solid foundation, not just a true friendship but a meaningful brotherhood,” he added.
The President expressed his gratitude to Sultan Bolkiah for the warm welcome accorded to him when he visited Brunei in October last year for a state visit.
He described the state visit as a success noting he hopes that the Sultan’s visit here would also be fruitful.
He also extended his gratitude to Sultan Bolkiah for protecting and caring for Filipinos living in Brunei.
He then wished the Sultan and the Royal family success and also hoped for the continued development of Brunei as a nation.
As a response, Sultan Bolkiah thanked the President for welcoming him and his delegation to the country.
Sultan Bolkiah said he was pleased that the Philippines and Brunei are enhancing their cooperation in areas of culture and halal industry.
“In the same time, I believe there is much potential for collaboration in the energy sector through the downstream and upstream activities. It would be good to further study opportunities in these areas,” he said.
Both countries have also formed a strong partnership through Brunei’s participation in the International Monitoring Team in southern Philippines, he added.
He vowed to remain committed to working with the Philippine government towards maintaining overall peace and stability in the region.
The visiting Brunei monarch also shared the Philippines’ concerns on the devastating effects of drugs in the society saying he understands President Duterte’s personal resolve in combating it.
“In this regard, we welcome close collaboration through the exchanges of expertise and best practices in this area,” he said.
Talking about ASEAN, he said the Philippines has a special place in Brunei’s journey to become a member of ASEAN, achieving an observer status in Manila back in 1981.
“I would like to take this opportunity to extend our full support for the Philippines’ Chairmanship of ASEAN,” Sultan Bolkiah said.
“We look forward to working closely with you in commemorating ASEAN’s 50th anniversary and towards charting our future direction together,” he added.
The state banquet was held at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace.
The Manila Philharmonic Orchestra, Ryan Cayabyab Singers, seasoned theater actress Tanya Manalang and Sindaw Philippines Performing Arts Guild provided entertainment. Models showcased Renee Salud’s Mindanao Tapestry Collection 2017 which were made from Yakan, T’nalak, Manobo, Pis Syabit, and Landap weaves.
Guests were served slow-cooked Guimaras lobster tail with avocado and pomelo salad, Tekwan soup with light shrimp broth, duo of pan-seared Mahi-mahi Fillet with sAdd Newaffron sauce and braised beef blade with kaldereta sauce. They also enjoyed coconut panna cotta with ube chocolate cream and Guimaras mango for dessert. PND/PNA-northboundasia.com