The Philippine Embassy in Vientiane reported to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) that the Filipino community in Laos is expected to roll out a grand welcome for President Benigno S. Aquino III as he arrives in Laos today to attend the 9th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) on November 5 and 6.

Philippine Ambassador to Lao PDR Maria Lumen Isleta said that the Filipino community is “ready and excited” to welcome the President in Laos.

“The Filipino community here actively partnered with the Embassy to prepare the program and give the President a grand welcome. Some of them have volunteered to perform onstage or help out in the reception and in ushering. They are really very much ready to roll out the welcome mat, so to speak,” she said, referring to the Filipino community dinner with President Aquino, which will be his first activity after his arrival.

“Some of them, particularly those working in the mining sites, travelled from faraway areas to be present during the dinner and be on hand to welcome the President,” Ambassador Isleta added.

The program, which will be held at the Mekong Restaurant in Vientiane, will feature performances by Filipino community members and their children.

Around 550 Filipinos are in Laos, most of them in Vientiane. Most of them are professionals and skilled workers in the education, mining, engineering, agriculture and services sectors. There are also those who work as consultants in non-governmental and international organizations such as the United Nations, the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank.

Ambassador Isleta said that Filipinos are well-regarded and highly-respected in the country.

“Filipinos usually receive high praise from Laotians due to their professionalism, skills and general disposition at work. They are looked at as being hardworking and cheerful,” she said.

Laotians consider Filipinos and the Philippines as a friend from way back, when the Philippines sent professionals,such as engineers, doctors and teachers, in a program called “Operation Brotherhood” which helped Laos in its development. (DFA)