MANILA, Philippines – Perhaps it was a preparation for today’s visit of Japan’s premier.
Instead of “mabuhay” or “cheers,” President Duterte broke protocol anew yesterday when he called members of the diplomatic corps to a toast by saying “kampai” during the first vin d’honneur or New Year diplomatic reception that he hosted at Malacañang.
“Mabuhay” or long live is the traditional Filipino greeting. In Japanese, kampai (also kanpai) is equivalent to “cheers” said during a toast.
“Kampai!” Duterte told the limited guests pegged by Malacañang protocol at 92, which was a far cry from the over 200 guests for the same event during the past administration.
“Bottoms up,” he said, eliciting laughter from the diplomatic corps but later adding “no, just half of the kampai.”
Elated during his visit in Tokyo last October, Duterte was said to utter the same word during his toast with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who happens to be arriving today in Manila for a two-day official visit.
When Duterte attended the early celebration of Japanese Emperor Akihito’s 83rd birthday last Dec. 2 in Davao City, the President also gamely offered a toast with Japanese Ambassador Kazude Ishikawa and other guests.
According to Palace protocol chief Undersecretary Mariano Paynor Jr., the President drank apple cider instead of champagne.
He declined to comment if the President avoided the champagne for health reasons.
Duterte’s predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III, drank water instead of champagne during the vin d’honneur receptions during his term.
Duterte has admitted in previous interviews that he had Barrett’s esophagus disease, which involves tissue lining the esophagus, and Buerger’s disease, a constriction of the blood vessels caused by accumulation of nicotine.
The President has since quit smoking.
Last Christmas, Duterte admitted he consumed about half a bottle of brandy during the merry-making activities. When one has Barrett disease, Duterte noted drinking wine or liquor should be avoided.
Deviating from his prepared speech, Duterte also mentioned his concern about the threat of the Islamic State (ISIS) before the diplomats.
“Thank you and when I go around and shake your hands or thank you for dropping by, and there’s a lot to do for this world… I really don’t know but if I (can) just make a side remark. I just finished reading the other night ISIS, it’s a book. And it says there a lot of things of the state of our (world),” the President said.
“So I hope we can get together, act together, just to preserve mankind. Thank you,” Duterte said.
Members of media were asked to leave after the President’s speech and the reply of Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Pinto, the dean of the diplomatic corps.