IN PHOTOS: Duterte’s 2 ‘First Ladies’ join him in China, Hong Kong

Pia Ranada
Presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio joins her father for the first time in an official trip abroad

FIRST LADY ROLE. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio and her son Stingray join President Rodrigo Duterte in Boao, China. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte appeared to have two “First Ladies” in his recently concluded back-to-back trips to China and Hong Kong.

For the first time in his presidency, he was joined in a foreign trip by his eldest daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in both visits to Boao, China, and Hong Kong.

His partner, Honeylet Avanceña, joined his delegation in Hong Kong.

Like a First Lady, Duterte-Carpio was by her father’s side, from their arrival at the airport in Boao to the plenary session at the Boao Forum for Asia.

She even brought along her young son, Stingray, all dressed up in collared shirts. 

Eye-catching was the Mayor’s large leg tattoo, clearly visible in official photos of her participation in the international forum.

COMPANION. President Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio attend the Boao Forum for Asia. Malacañang photo

WARM WELCOME. President Rodrigo Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio are welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan. Malacañang photo

Malacañang photo

CHIT-CHAT. President Rodrigo Duterte and Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio chat with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Malacañang photo

Malacañang photo

BILATERAL TALKS.Mayor Sara Duterte joins her father during the expanded bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Chinese ministers. Malacañang photo

Duterte-Carpio got to hobnob with other world leaders at the Boao forum. Official photos show she spoke briefly with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, current chairman of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

She even got to join Duterte and Cabinet secretaries in their expanded bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping and his ministers.

PRIVATE DINNER. President Duterte and Honeylet Avanceña host a dinner for friends and supporters in Hong Kong. Malacañang photo

OFW CONCERNS. Sara Duterte and Honeylet Avanceña join President Duterte in Jollibee in Hong Kong where he speaks with an OFW. Malacañang photo

In Hong Kong, however, Duterte-Carpio did not attend a dinner hosted by Duterte and Avanceña for their friends. 

But both Duterte-Carpio and Avanceña were present when Duterte dined at a Jollibee branch in Hong Kong to speak with an overseas Filipino worker.

The two women also shared a stage during Duterte’s speech in front of OFWs in Hong Kong.

The President left it up to his daughter to have the last word at the gathering.

Malacañang photo

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio pose for a photo while they are surrounded by supporters during the President’s meeting with the Filipino community at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong on April 12, 2018. SIMEON CELI JR./PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

Upon arriving in Davao City, Duterte was asked if the country could expect his daughter to join him in more foreign trips.

Duterte explained that “one reason” why Mayor Inday was with him was because she was invited by organizers. He did not specify who extended the invitation.

Mayor Duterte-Carpio is said to be the President’s favorite among his children. He often says publicly that he would not have run for president if Inday Sara refused to run for mayor as he trusts only her to take care of his hometown.

It was also supposedly out of fear of Sara that Duterte did not want to name Avanceña as his official First Lady.

In Philippine history, wives and daughters have been given the First Lady role. In President Elpidio Quirino’s time, it was his daughter, Victoria, who was First Lady since he was a widower. –


Pia Ranada

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