The State Dinner tendered by Indonesian President Joko Widodo for Philippine President Rody Duterte, usually a very formal and stiff affair of officials between two countries, turned out to be a sharing of meal between two brothers who deeply admired each other.

Since I was seated a chair away from President Duterte, I was able to hear the bantering between President Duterte and President Widodo who were seated across each other at the State Dining table at the Istana Merdeka last night.

They both recalled with laughter the light moments they had in the recently concluded ASEAN Summits in Laos with President Widodo saying that he gave President Duterte two thumbs up when the Philippine President brought to the attention of the delegates to the atrocities and human rights violations committed by foreign colonisers in the Philippines.

Both are Presidents of countries which were colonised in the not-so-distant past with the Philippines occupied by the Spaniards for over 300 years and by the Americans for over 40 years, while Indonesia was colonised by the Dutch.

In his address to members of the Philippine delegation before offering a toast, President Widodo thanked President Duterte for signing an agreement on Martime Security in the boundaries of the two countries near the Sulu Seas where pirates have been harassing vessels and abducting sailors.

President Duterte, on the other hand, reaffirmed the friendship and kinship of the Filipinos with their fellow Malay, the Indonesians, and thanked President Widodo for the country's assurance of oil supply to the Philippines during the Oil Crisis in the 1970s.

The Philippine President told President Widodo that his country would continue to give refuge to and protect the thousands of Indonesians who have made the Southern Philippines their homes now.

President Duterte endeared himself to President Widodo and the Indonesian officials especially when he said that the Philippines' relationship with Indonesia is one of kinship and brotherhood, citing the fact that Filipinos, like Indonesians, belong to the Malay race.

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