DAVAO CITY, Philippines – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe completed his Davao City experience by adopting and naming a Philippine Eagle and sampling some durian on his last day in the country.
Abe adopted a female juvenile Philippine Eagle on Friday, January 13, and named it Sakura, a Japanese word that means "cherry blossoms."
In the presence of President Rodrigo Duterte, Abe was given a stuffed toy Philippine Eagle and a portrait of the eagle – tokens symbolizing his adoption of Sakura.
Present at the ceremony were the Prime Minister's wife Mrs. Akie Abe, Duterte's longtime partner Honeylet Avanceña, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos "Sonny" Dominguez, and Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo.
Immediately after, Abe and Duterte ate durian, a fruit associated with Davao City and Mindanao.
Sakura was rescued in 2016 in Talaingod, Davao del Norte where she was found to have been shot in the abdomen by an air gun.
She is currently undergoing rehabilitation at the Philippine Eagle Center in Davao City.
Only around 400 pairs of Philippine Eagles are left in the wild. Naming ceremonies are typically done to raise awareness for the plight of these critically-endangered birds.
For their Davao events, Abe and Duterte were noticeably more casual than in Manila. Instead of barong and suit and tie, the two wore short-sleeved polos and casual pants.
Apparently, Duterte really was going for a more relaxed atmosphere for Abe's visit to his hometown.
"This is what the President wanted – friendly, not so formal. We wanted them to feel at home. Our President is this simple, especially when he’s in Davao," said Presidential Communications Operations Office Assistant Secretary Marie Banaag.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.