Honeylet Avanceña to host ASEAN leaders’ spouses

Pia Ranada
Honeylet Avanceña to host ASEAN leaders’ spouses
(UPDATED) The President's common-law wife will tour the spouses at the National Museum, to be followed by lunch, on Saturday, April 29

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte has chosen his common-law wife Honeylet Avanceña to be “official hostess” of the spouses of heads of government attending the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit on Saturday, April 29.

Reporters were told by ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council Director-General Ambassador Marciano Paynor Jr that the “spouses’ program” would be a tour at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila. 

Palace Social Secretary Analyn Tolentino clarified to Rappler on Thursday, April 27, that the tour will take place at the Nationall Museum.

Paynor, during a Monday chance interview, said around 5 spouses are so far expected to fly to Manila for the event, the first international summit to be hosted by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“As of now, it’s Brunei, Indonesia, and 3 others. As of now, this is still tentative,” he said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Avanceña, to be assisted by Social Secretary Tolentino and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts, is scheduled to bring the spouses to a tour of the National Museum on Saturday.

She will then host a lunch for them. 

Paynor said a museum was chosen for convenience and to spare the ladies from the unforgiving April heat.

The First Lady or family members of the Philippine President are typically chosen to play the part of hostess for the spouses of visiting heads of government.

During the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in 2015, Kris Aquino, sister of then President Benigno Aquino III, toured spouses of visiting leaders to Intramuros. 

This won’t be Avanceña’s first time to host a spouse of a country leader.

When Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Davao City last January, she escorted his wife, Mrs Akie Abe, to visit memorials and the Japanese cemetery there. 

Though Avanceña is taking on the duties of a First Lady, the President has not officially named any First Lady, even at one time joking he would just assign the role to his eldest daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.