President Donald Trump has arrived in the Philippines for the last leg of his visit to Asia for the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (ASEAN) Summit. He attended the gala dinner clad in the host country’s national costume for men known as “Barong Tagalog.”
The top is made of embroidered pineapple cocoon that will also carry the Asean logo in their customized buttons in the center front and cuffs. Each barong carried a unique embroidered design. All the pieces for the world leaders were consistent with the traditional button-down silhouette of the piece “but with a little darker shade” compared to the classic off-white hue.
The Philippines’ top world class fashion designers were commissioned by the government to design the barong for world leaders. Each piece was named after a remarkable Filipino quality.
President Donald Trump wore a baring named “matipuno”
(robust). The President of the host country, the controversial Rodrigo Duterte for his part wore a piece called “maharlika”
(nobility). Russian President Vladimir Putin was assigned a barong called “marangal” ( honorable).
Other world leaders were given their pieces with such corresponding Filipino traits and qualities as “makatao”
( humane), “mapagkawanggawa” (charitable) for Canada, “masigasig” (persistent) for China, and “mapagkumbaba” (humility) for Japan, among others.
Trump and Duterte first met on Saturday at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation ( APEC) Summit in Vietnam. The two leaders are set to hold a bilateral meeting in Manila on Monday, local time.
Trump also offered to serve the role of a mediator in the South China Sea dispute among the Philippines, China, and Vietnam among others. The Philippines welcomed such offer with its foreign affairs secretary describing Trump’s gesture as a “generous offer.” Philippine officials also hailed Trump as a “master of the art of the deal.”
The Philippines remain a key ally for the U.S., and relations between the two countries date back to the 19th century and the Spanish-American War when the U.S. took command of the islands from Spain. The Philippines has also been serving as a crucial buffer for the U.S. against Chinese assertion, especially in the South China Sea.
The relations suffered some blows and tensions last year when former President Barack Obama criticized Duterte on his bloody war on drugs, insisting that allegations of massive human rights violations perpetrated by the Duterte cannot be dismissed and ignored. Duterte took offense and cursed at Obama.
Both Trump and Duterte, in contrast to Obama, have said they enjoy the rapport with each other. Trump has been warned, however, not to do Duterte’s signature fist bump while in Manila or during photo opportunities as the gesture also symbolizes attacks against human rights and the victims of the drug war.