With cameos in 12 Hollywood films and 14 television series, a twice-Emmy nominated reality program, and a stint as owner and producer of the world’s most prominent beauty pageant, US President Donald Trump knows a top-notch act when he sees one.
And see one he certainly did on Sunday night, as TV cameras caught the leader of the world’s most powerful nation getting up on his feet to applaud the curtain call of some 300 Filipino performers who took to the stage for the 50th anniversary gala dinner of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) at SMX Convention Center.
Trump’s applause grew louder and louder, as his hands went higher and higher, until he gave his ultimate compliment by raising both his fists up the air.
Meeting Asean leaders on Monday, Trump lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for putting up a good show.
“The show last night was fantastic. Thank you. And you are fantastic also,” he told Duterte.
In a separate bilateral meeting with Duterte, Trump said he and other leaders had a “tremendous time” during the gala dinner.
Trump, who sat beside President Duterte and common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña, marveled along with other world leaders at a three-part musical production dubbed “Bravo Asean.”
The spectacle opened with a full orchestra playing the iconic upbeat hit of the Hotdogs, “Manila,” after which traditional Filipino dances spotlighted, such as Tinikling and Salakot, impressed and delighted the audience.
Eager to show the world that Filipinos are also adept in other dance forms, choreographies in tap, ballroom and contemporary movements ensued from the Belinda Agora Dancers and Davao Tappers.
The third and final segment of the program took out the big guns so to speak, with the likes of OPM diva Lani Misalucha, WCOPA alumnus Jed Madela, powerful belter Jona, opera singer David Ezra and child wonders Darren Espanto, Elha Nympha and Sam Shoaf sharing a medley of inspirational hits that included John Lennon’s “Imagine,” Johnny Cash’s “In My Life,” Michael Bolton’s “Go the Distance” and popular musical songs “Somewhere” from “West Side Story” and “Climb Every Mountain” from “The Sound of Music.”
Outside the program proper, Freddie Aguilar reportedly sang his signature song “Anak,” while Asia’s Queen of Songs, Pilita Corrales also graced the stage to sing President Duterte’s favorite song “Ikaw.”
In a video uploaded on Twitter, lawyer Karen Jimeno (@AttyKarenJimeno) shared how Mr. Duterte sang along with Corrales from his seat, explaining it was Trump who asked him to render a few lines of the George Canseco classic.
The gala dinner showcased the country’s best talents, from the four-course Filipino and Asean fusion dinner served by Chef Jessie Cincioco and Sofitel Philippine Plaza; the intricately designed collection of Barong Tagalog and Filipiniana attires from Rajo Laurel, Albert Andrada and Randy Ortiz; and finally, to the rousing performance of OPM greats, award-winning singers, and talented musicians and dancers.