WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the country’s 17th president, is set to visit Indonesia and Singapore.
Marcos is visiting Indonesia from September 4 to 6, and Singapore from September 6 to 7. The two trips, his first as head of state, are classified as state visits – the highest kinds of foreign trips a leader can make.
Bookmark this page for updates from Marcos’ first foreign trip as president.
Marcos in Indonesia and Singapore: Ties to the region, ties to the past
The economy was front and center of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s goals in traveling to two Southeast Asian neighbors, Indonesia and Singapore, from September 4 to 7.
In those two visits, Marcos also solidified the overseas Filipino mandate he had won just months back. Marcos lost in only two areas abroad, Indonesia and Singapore were certainly not among them.
From deals signed to who tagged along, here is what you need to know about the President’s first trips abroad.
An orchid named Ferdinand Louise
The President and First Lady’s first official activity in Singapore on September 7 was the presentation of Dendrobium Ferdinand Louise Marcos, an orchid hybrid named after the couple. The orchid is “a robust and free-flowering orchid hybrid.” The plant is described as having “elegantly curled sepals [that] have a white background adorned with lavender striations, while the distinguished petals are white with bluish mauve” and a violet lip.
Why the orchid? Rebecca Tan, in an article for the National Library of Singapore, says it’s a tradition of the city-state’s called “orchid diplomacy.” World leaders visiting Singapore are usually given this token as a “gesture of friendship to promote goodwill between Singapore and other countries.”
Choosing to name hybrid orchids after world leaders also carries with it meaning. Tan notes: “Orchids, which belong to the family Orchidaceae, are chosen for their vibrant colors, hardiness and resilience. They help to project a strong image of Singapore. Hybrids, created by crossing two different breeds of parent plant species, reflect Singapore’s multicultural heritage and globally oriented outlook.”
OFW rights group: Why didn’t Marcos himself raise Veloso clemency to Jokowi?
While welcoming the efforts of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s administration to seek clemency for long-detained overseas Filipino worker Mary Jane Veloso during a state visit to Indonesia, a migrant rights advocacy group expressed “disappointment” that the appeal was not made by the Philippine leader himself.
Read more here.
In Singapore, OFWs dream of coming home
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. met members of the Filipino community at the National University of Singapore on the first evening of his state visit to Singapore on Tuesday, September 6. Just like his visit to Indonesia, scenes were reminiscent of the 2022 campaign period. An energetic host hyped up the crowd and asked them what dreams they had for the Philippines – where a number of whom answered they wished to work in their home country instead.
Another said she wished the Philippines would become like Singapore.
Marcos thanked the crowd for coming out to support him, and for voting him in the May polls. “Kaya naman, malalim po ang utang na loob namin sa inyo… Ang aming kapalit ay ang trabaho at pagpaganda sa Pilipinas (We have a deep debt of gratitude to you… In exchange, we will create more jobs and make the Philippines better),” he said in a speech.
In the overseas election, Singapore emerged as one of the posts where Marcos got the most support. He garnered 36,806 votes from Filipinos in the city-state.
FAST FACTS: Things to know about Philippines-Singapore relations
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is in Singapore from September 6 to 7 for the second leg of his first set of state visits.
Marcos’ trip is upon the invitation of Singaporean President Halimah Yacob, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said on September 2, adding that the Philippine enjoys “active engagement” with Singapore.
The President is expected to meet with Singaporean officials, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with whom he will witness the signing of agreements between the two countries.
Marcos’ decision to choose Singapore, as well as Indonesia, comes as Philippine presidents traditionally choose Southeast Asian countries for first state visits.
But what do we need to know about the relations between the Philippines and Singapore? Read this.
‘Very productive meetings’: Marcos meets Jokowi
In a predeparture briefing with media in Indonesia on Tuesday, September 6, Marcos said his meetings with Indonesian President Joko Widodo were “very productive” and that they discussed topics he didn’t expect to touch on.
Among the topics they discussed included:
- Indonesia supplying the Philippines with fertilizer and coal
- learning from Indonesia’s shift to renewable energy
- discussion on Public-Private Partnerships; and
- how governments can support micro, small, and medium enterprises
Marcos could not provide figures on what the deals the Philippines sealed were worth but said “it is going to be quite significant.”
Marcos and Widodo to form task forces for PH-Indonesia cooperation
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Monday, September 4, that he and Indonesian President Joko Widodo agreed to form groups to explore opportunities for cooperation between the two countries on a “technical level.”
“We continue to work on growing our relationship to make it stronger, so much so that in actual fact our discussions progress so rapidly that we, the President and I, have agreed to organize task forces already to meet and discuss even at the technical level, no longer at the political or the diplomatic level but at the technical level, so as to be able to take a full advantage of opportunities that we feel that are available to us and that we will need to exploit to succeed in the near future,” Marcos said.