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Exhausted Duterte ends yearlong ASEAN hosting

MANILA, Philippines – Lack of sleep, endless meetings, security concerns.

These were what contributed to President Rodrigo Duterte's visible exhaustion as he wrapped up the Philippines' yearlong hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Summits late on Tuesday night, November 14.

"I have a shortage of sleep. Maybe I'm [awake for] 16 hours, 17 hours," said Duterte during his press conference after the ASEAN Summit closing ceremony at the Philippine International Convention Center.

In fact, when he got to the podium, after rushing from the closing ceremony, he asked the waiting journalists to give him time to "take a breath."

Duterte spoke candidly of how taxing the 3-day 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits was on him. (READ: How Duterte fared as host of his biggest gala dinner yet)

"Everybody participating there wants [a] bilateral [meeting]. We have this plenary, then bilateral. I could not even keep up," said the President.

"I have to wake up at 6, I go home and ask so many questions from the workers of government, I get feedback. When I am satisfied and everything that the police is there, but I said we slept 2 to 3 and I wake up 6, 7 because of the so many bilaterals," he continued.

Duterte's ray of light at the end of the regional bloc's grand event is the prospect of being back home in Davao City, his "comfort zone."

"But I will recover because tomorrow is the last day and I am flying out to my city by the sea. I feel it is my comfort zone. I see my grandsons, I embrace my youngest daughter, and everything seems good," he said.

Duterte compared this to the trepidation he feels when he has to fly back to Manila for official events.

"When I land here, it seems to be that something is wrong with this society," he said.

The 72-year-old has had to deal with health issues that come with age and some other ailments as he fulfills the role of president.

It's not surprising that the flurry of ASEAN events would take its toll on Duterte. It was his first time to host such a huge international gathering attended by 20 foreign leaders(READ: Duterte says Trudeau raising EJKs 'an official insult')

At the ASEAN Summit closing ceremony, Duterte symbolically turned over the chairmanship role to Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Singapore will formally assume the ASEAN chairmanship in January 2018. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

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 pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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