MANILA, Philippines – The Filipino community in Laos is expected to roll out a grand welcome for President Benigno S. Aquino III when he arrives in the country today to attend the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM).
In a statement, Philippine Ambassador to Lao PDR Maria Lumen Isleta said the Filipino community is "ready and excited" to welcome Aquino.
"The Filipino community here actively partnered with the Embassy to prepare the program and give the President a grand welcome," Isleta said.
"Some of them have volunteered to perform onstage or help out in the reception and in ushering. They are very much ready to roll out the welcome mat, so to speak," she added.
Aquino will have dinner with the Filipino community in what will be his first activity after his arrival in Laos.
"Some of them, particularly those working in the mining sites, traveled from faraway areas to be present during the dinner and be on hand to welcome the President," Isleta revealed.
The program will be held at the Mekong Restaurant in the capital Vientiane and will feature performances by members of the Filipino community and their children.
There are around 550 Filipinos in Laos, most of whom work in Vientiane as professionals and skilled workers in the education, mining, engineering, agriculture and services sectors. Some also work as consultants in non-governmental and international organizations such as the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.
Isleta said Filipinos are well-regarded and highly respected in Laos.
"Filipinos usually receive high praise from Laotians due to their professionalism, skills and general disposition at work. They are looked at as being hardworking and cheerful," she said.
Aquino will leave for Laos at 1 p.m. Sunday on board Philippine Airlines flight PR 001.
His delegation includes Foreign Affairs Sec. Albert Del Rosario, Finance Sec. Cesar Purisima, Trade and Industry Sec. Gregory Domingo, outgoing Energy Sec. Jose Rene Almendras, Presidential Communications Operations Office Sec. Sonny Coloma and NEDA Director General Arsenia Balisacan.
Aquino is expected to arrive in Laos at 4:10 p.m. – With a report from DZMM