NSW PM praises ‘Noynoy phenomenon’
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (UPDATE 1) - President Aquino arrived in Sydney Thursday and is feeling better after falling ill due to a bum stomach.
Flying in from Canberra, Aquino was able to eat a burger for breakfast on the plane.
Aquino was also able to attend and stay at the state luncheon hosted by New South Wales Premier Barry O' Farrell at the Parliament House.
O' Farrell lavished Aquino with praise, describing him as a "phenomenon."
O' Farrell said he had never met such "an incredible force for good" in his 18 months in office as Premier of New South Wales.
"In that time, I've welcomed Prime Ministers, I've welcomed premiers, I've welcomed presidents, I've welcomed potentates, I've welcomed prelates, but I've never before welcomed a phenomenon. I've never before met a phenomenon. And I know, Mr. President, that the Noynoy phenomenon was [an] incredible force, an incredible force for good in a country where democracy has never been able to be taken for granted in a way that we in this country take democracy for granted," O' Farrell said in a speech before offering a toast.
"I know that I'm also in the presence of someone whose family epitomizes service to one's nation and at times that has come with a significant cost. I know you yourself had been touched by the force of trying to do what's right in a country that at times has struggled to maintain that path of freedom, democracy, liberty that is central to both our communities," he added.
O' Farrell congratulated Aquino for the signing of the Framework Agreement between the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
He acknowledged the role of the Filipino-Australians in making Sydney and New South Wales a "successful state," citing their "strong, energetic, and entrepreneurial spirit."
He reiterated his commitment to Australia's continued friendship with Filipinos.
"Can I again reinforce our commitment to welcome as many Filipinos as possible who wanna make Sydney, New South Wales home, to grow the trade and investment that is critical to the future success of both our countries, both of our societies and the future opportunities that our communities have," O' Farrell said.
Aquino thanked Australia for being a steadfast ally through different stages in history since World War II.
Aquino also spoke of a personal connection with the Australians, narrating how an Australian friend helped spirit out of the Philippines a member of the Aquinos' household staff who was severely tortured during Martial Law.
Aquino said this was a time when many friends had deserted them and avoided being seen publicly with family members.
The gesture of the Australian family friend, he said, demonstrates the constant friendship shared by Australia and the Filipino people.
"There were instances when people would cross the street to avoid being with my mother, or being seen with my mother, or being suspected of having talked to any of us. Those were days when loyal friends suddenly were very sparse," Aquino said.
"But our Australian friends throughout the whole period of martial law were a constant source of support and nurturing. Hence, part of the excitement of coming here was in a sense to see a land that really nurtured people who were not afraid to fight.”