United States President Barack Obama is scheduled to arrive in the Philippines on Monday, April 28th. His visit is set to discuss several bilateral issues with Filipino President Binigno Aquino III on his two day visit to the Asian Country.
Obama’s visit to the Philippines is part of a muti-stop trip throughout Asia including South Korea, Japan, Malaysia and the Philippines. Obama is making the trip in an effort to strengthen diplomatic and economic ties between the countries on his visit. The trip also coincides with heavy tensions as the result of maritime and territory disputes that have been ongoing for the Philippines and China over the South China Sea.
Barack Obama’s visit is the 8th time a sitting president has visited the Philippines. Throughout history only 10 United States Presidents have visited the Philippines. Out of those noted 10, only 6 were sitting presidents at the time of their arrival.
The first sitting U.S. President to visit the Philippines was Dwight Eisenhower on June 14, 1960. His visit included a massive military parade in Luneta Park. Eisenhower received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of the Philippines on June 16th, 1960.
Richard Nixon was the next sitting president to visit the Philippines in 1969 just 7 days after Gloria Diaz won the Miss Universe pageant in July 19th of that same year. Nixon has been duly noted as saying “The U.S. has conquered the moon but the Philippines has conquered the universe”.
The shortest visit by any sitting U.S. President was George W. Bush. His visit only lasted 8 hours due to security threats. A massive build up of anti-American sentiments grew strong in the Philippines and his security details suggested to make the visit only during the daytime. Bush met with then Filipino President Gloria Arroyo and to give a speech in the joint session of the Philippines Congress on October 18th, 2003.
Bush’s arrival to the session hall of Congress on that infamous day, several legislators did not stand to recognize him. At least 5 other legislators who opposed President Bush’s involvement and actions in the Iraq war, walked out of the hall in protest.
Outside the hall over 7,000 protestors stood burning American flags and denouncing the U.S. operations in Iraq. The protestors tried to march on Congress but were halted by the Philippines police.
Past Presidents that stayed in the Philippines over a course of several days include Eisenhower, Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, each staying a varied 2 to 3 day stay. Only Bush stayed less then a day.
Bill Clinton is the only president to have visited the Philippines twice, the only sitting President so far in history to do so. His first visit in 1994 was to discuss the withdrawal of U.S. forces due to the expired Military Bases Agreement of 1991. Clinton visited once again in 1996 to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit which the Philippines hosted.
Clinton’s visit in 1994 came with the reality that Al-Qaeda had attempted to assassinate the sitting U.S. President. The idea was later abandoned as the idea was to difficult to execute. The alternate idea by the extremist group was to assassinate Pope John Paul II in 1995 when he visited the Philippines on World Youth Day.
In 1996 Clinton avoided assassination by a matter of a few minutes when his motorcade has been rerouted due to a bomb that the U.S. Secret Service discovered on the intended route. This attempt to take the life of Clinton was said to be ordered by no other then Osama bin Laden.
Four U.S. Presidents visited the Philippines outside their terms of office. The most famous of them all was William Howard Taft in 1901 and continual to 1903. Taft did not become president until 1909.
Ronald Reagan visited the Philippines in 1969 when he was then Governor of California. Reagan did not become president till 1981. George Bush Sr. is also noted as visiting the Philippines in 1981, he later became president in 1989.
Jimmy Carter visited the country in 1999, far after his sitting presidential term which ended in 1981. Of all the presidents noted Taft was the one that took the most flack for his controversial picture taken of him riding a carabao.