MANILA, Philippines – A number of Philippine government officials met with President Xi Jinping and his delegation at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bonifacio Global City during the Chinese leader’s two-day state visit.
As politicians and businessmen made their way in for meetings, the 5-star hotel’s lobby had the odd sight of a number of security officials standing still while guests and children walked past them.
Just the day before, Chinese-Filipinos and unknowing hotel guests waited to try and catch a glimpse of Xi. The Chinese president, though, did not seem to have passed the hotel that afternoon after arriving in Manila and was next seen in Rizal Park for his first engagement. (READ: Red-carpet PH welcome for Xi Jinping amid protests)
Despite this, some government officials still came to the hotel the first day of Xi’s visit on Tuesday, November 20. Among those who came to the hotel was Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar whose companions were seen holding copies of Xi’s book The Governance of China.
Later on that night, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III and Chief of Presidential Protocol Robert Borje were also seen heading out of the hotel after the state banquet held in honor of Xi. (From Michael Yang to Dennis Uy: Who's who at Xi Jinping state banquet)
On the second day of the state visit on Wednesday, November 21, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Senate President Vicente Sotto III arrived at the hotel for their courtesy call with Xi. (READ: Arroyo praises China, recalls presidency at Xi Jinping meeting)
They were accompanied by other members of Congress.
From the House of Representatives, Arroyo’s group included Deputy Speaker Arthur Yap, Ang Kabuhayan Representative Dennis Laogan, Malabon Representative Ricky Sandoval, Iligan Representative Frederick Siao, former Quezon City representative Matias Defensor, and Quezon City 4th District Representative Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
With Sotto were senators Panfilo Lacson, Gregorio Honasan II, Miguel Zubiri, and Ralph Recto.
Officials who were with Arroyo and Sotto were likewise able to meet President Xi.
Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr and tycoon Lucio Tan were also in sight as Philippine and Chinese officials and businessmen were leaving.
Also present was National Capital Region Police chief Director Guillermo Eleazar, who arrived to see the Chinese delegation off.
A few minutes before 12 pm, former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano arrived with his wife, Taguig City Mayor Lani Cayetano, to help her send off the Chinese leader. He had a quick chat with Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua at the hotel’s lobby.
Asked if he was able to meet with President Xi Jinping, Cayetano said he shook hands and had was able to have a short talk with the Chinese leader during the send-off.
He added, “Iba kasi kapag in person.” (It’s different when you see him in person.)
Save for a few security guards left seated by a lounge, the hotel was back to its normal state as soon as the government officials left. The few media and crew that remained packed up into a van as families came by the hotel for a meal like any other day.
The police were no longer in sight and children ran in circles across what was now a clear lobby.
The new guests that arrived were greeted by doormen and made their way to the check in-counter as they normally would, assisted by staff who minutes before had hosted the Chinese president during his historic visit. – Rappler.com