FIREBRAND President Rodrigo Duterte unveiled his softer side on Sunday evening when he “serenaded” his US counterpart Donald Trump with a popular Filipino love song.
According to Rappler, Duterte sang the popular classic “Ikaw” (You) with famous songstress Pilita Corrales during the gala dinner of the 31st Asean Summit.
A video of Duterte crooning the number was tweeted by Public Works Undersecretary Karen Jimeno. The 45-second clip saw Duterte saying he did so at Trump’s request.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I sang uninvited a duet with Ms Pilita Corrales upon the ‘orders’ of the commander in chief of the United States,” Duterte said at the end of the song.
Trump and Duterte were among 19 leaders at the glittering gala in the Philippines capital ahead of the annual summit.
One of the song’s verses, translated from Filipino, begins: “You are the light in my world, a half of this heart of mine”.
Duterte, who is sometimes described as the “Trump of the East” because of his brash style, is due to meet the US president on the sidelines of the summit on Monday.
— Karen Jimeno (@AttyKarenJimeno) November 12, 2017
The US and its former colony, the Philippines, have been strategic allies since World War II. But their relations have been strained by anti-US outbursts from Duterte and his enthusiasm for better ties with Russia and China.
More than 3,900 Filipinos have been killed in a war on drugs that Duterte declared when he took office last year. His government says the police act in self-defence, but critics say executions are taking place with no accountability.
Duterte said last week he would tell the US president to “lay off” if he raised the issue of human rights when they met.
But Trump, who has been criticised at home for neglecting rights issues in dealings abroad, praised Duterte in May for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”.
Trump and leaders of the 10-member Asean grouping, China, Russia, Japan, Canada, South Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand were entertained by singers and dancers at the dinner.
Each of the men sported a cream-coloured barong, a traditional Philippines shirt made of fibre from the pineapple plant, hand-embroidered and worn untucked.
They were served a four-course Filipino-Asian fusion meal prepared by Chef Jessie Sincioco, who also designed the menu for Pope Francis when he visited the Philippines in 2015.
Additional reporting by Reuters