Toast of President Aquino during the Indonesian state banquet

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of Indones...Image via WikipediaToast of His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
At the State Banquet Hosted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono

[Delivered at the Istana Negara, Jakarta, Indonesia on March 8, 2011]

Allow me to thank Your Excellency, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the government and people of Indonesia, for your warm welcome. This visit has been extremely productive, as demonstrated by the agreements we have reached.


Beyond that, however, may I share a personal epiphany I have reached in this visit, which goes far beyond treaties and agreements? Allow me to share a few observations:

On the way to Universita Pelita Harapan, in the gigantic billboard you have put up for me and my delegation, I saw the words, “Selamat datang,” which I learned meant “Welcome.” Now in my language, those two words are extremely familiar—selamat sounds so close to salamat, which is “thank you” in Tagalog; and datang, which is very close to the Kapampangan word for “arrival.” Taken together, those two words signify gratitude for an arrival. I would like to say now that I am even more impressed, and very grateful for your warmth and hospitality you have bestowed upon us.

I learned your word for love is chinta. (This doesn’t mean I practiced it this afternoon.) Again, this sounds very close to my native word for love, which is sinta. One letter of difference. (I hope this remark does not invite comments on my bachelorhood, as it does back home.)

I also learned that your word for “address” is alamat, which means in our Tagalog tongue, “myth” or “legend.” It means also “point of origin”; where roots sprout from and where history begins. And during the performance earlier: Again, we have a similar word, if not identical word for child, which is anak, for which all of our efforts seem to be so geared at.

Thus is my epiphany. Though we may be separate as nations, our commonalities bind us. Though our flags may proudly wave emblazoned with different colors, the same wind holds them high and proud above any difference or challenge that may separate us.

This is our path toward the future. We must constantly seek and cultivate common ground; we must always kindle the fire of tolerance and consensus as we hurdle the many issues that confront our nations and the region.

We are brothers and sisters borne of the same ancestors, and may our children, our common anak, enjoy the future that our forefathers envisioned.

Your Excellency, Ladies and Gentlemen; may I propose a toast:

To the health of my good friend and role model, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono;

To the people of Indonesia and your shared passion with the Filipino—a passion for aspiration and actualization .

To the very spirit of oneness between the peoples of the Philippines and Indonesia, and the constant reaffirmation that we live in one region, exist in one world, and fight for one tomorrow.

In Tagalog, we say, Mabuhay po kayo; and now may I also add, Long live Indonesia and its people.

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