Trump praises 'tremendous talent' of Filipinos at ASEAN gala

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 13) — The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit was not only a venue for state leaders to meet, but also for the host country to showcase its culture.

U.S. President Donald Trump was among those who were impressed with the Filipino performers during the the gala dinner for the 50th anniversary of ASEAN at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City on Sunday.

"I actually enjoyed being here. We very much appreciate the great treatment that you have given. I thought last night's event was fantastic, tremendous talent. Most of them I guess from the Philippines. Tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent, and we really had a tremendous time all of the leaders," Trump said at the bilateral meeting between the Philippines and the U.S. on Monday.

Early Sunday evening, President Rodrigo Duterte and his partner, Honeylet Avanceña, gave a warm welcome to the heads of state visiting the country.

Setting the mood for the gala dinner were a marching band, two violinists, and a singing trio.

Several dance ensembles followed, which featured ballet, tap dancing, ballroom, hip-hop, and a host of traditional Filipino routines.

Local singers, including Jonalyn Viray, Darren Espanto, Lani Misalucha, Jed Madela, and Beverly Caimen wowed the crowd as they belted out a medley of operatic harmonies, including Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli's "The Prayer."

READ: Japan-based Filipina singer wows ASEAN delegates

Trump, who was wearing a Barong Tagalog and was seated next to Duterte, gave a standing ovation, along with the other guests.

As if the talent showcase was not enough, Duterte also performed a rendition of the classic song, "Ikaw," with veteran singer Pilita Corrales, upon Trump's request.

READ: Duterte sings 'Ikaw' upon Trump's request

During the dinner, Duterte as the ASEAN chairperson shared a toast to mark the regional bloc's 50th anniversary.

"I wish to offer a toast to the unity, centrality, solidarity, and continued success of the ASEAN, to ASEAN's achievements in the last 50 years, and to the success of the 31st ASEAN Summit [and] related [meetings]," Duterte said.

Trump is one of 20 foreign leaders in the Philippines for the Asean Summit. It is his first visit to the country as President, and will stay until Tuesday for the East Asia Summit.

The U.S. President also commended Philippine officials for organizing the gathering well.

"We've had a great relationship. This has been very successful. We have many meetings...with many other leaders. The ASEAN conferences has been handled beautifully by the President and the Philippines and your representatives," Trump said.