CANBERRA, Australia, Oct 24 (Mabuhay) — President Benigno S. Aquino III arrived a little over past midnight here Wednesday to begin the Australian leg of his trip which will be as busy as his recently concluded state visit to New Zealand.
President Aquino started his official day at the Lakeside Lawn of the Government House where ceremonial welcome was prepared in his honor by Governor General Quentin Bryce complete with a 21 gun salute.
President Aquino is said to be the second head of state to be welcomed at the Government House. The first had been Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.
A discussion between the two leaders was held shortly followed by a state luncheon hosted by Governor General Bryce and her husband, Michael Bryce, at the dining room where a ceremonial toast was proposed.
From there, President Aquino proceeded to the Parliament House for a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Julia Gillard at her office before meeting with other Australian ministers.
Later in the afternoon, President Aquino laid a wreath at the Australian War Memorial and toured selected galleries.
The President then granted an interview with Ms. Kathy Novak, a senior correspondent of the Special Broadcasting Service, before driving back to the Parliament House for the official dinner hosted by Prime Minister Gillard.
President Aquino wrapped up his first day of activities here with the usual coffee meeting with the Philippine media held at the Hyatt Hotel where he answered burning questions from reporters on various issues
The next two days of President Aquino’s state visit here will be spent with meetings with various company executives and other leaders including the Premier of New South Wales Barry O’Farrell in Sydney.
The President will deliver a keynote address at the Philippines-Australia Business Forum and meet with top CEOs in a roundtable setting.
He will then address The Asia Society of Australia and the Australia Philippine Business Council before proceeding to Campbelltown to unveil a statue of Dr. Jose Rizal.
The President will also grace a Filipino Community gathering where he is expected to encourage them to help raise the profile of the Philippines by being knowledgeable and competent sources of information on their home country, be it on history and culture, business, and tourism, among others.
President Aquino traveled for more than three hours from Wellington, New Zealand on his way here via a chartered Philippine Airlines flight PR001.
During the flight, the President managed to engage his fellow passengers in a brief and candid conversation about his experiences in New Zealand particularly the traditional Maori welcome or ‘powhiri’ which he seemed to have enjoyed and found most memorable. (MNS)
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