|Obama and Aquino. Photo credit: bigstory.ap.org|
It all began with Dwight “Ike” Eisenhower who, 58 years ago, despite having spent several years in the Philippines as an aid to General Douglas MacArthur prior to World War II, pioneered for a sitting United States president to visit the former island colony and a long-standing ally. It was followed by Lyndon Johnson in the year 1966 who was in town to attend a summit with leaders from six countries: South Korea, Australia, Thailand, New Zealand, and host country the Philippines.
Richard Nixon was the 3rd sitting US president to visit the country on July 26, 1969, shortly after Apollo 11 carrying the three American astronauts Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Aldrin landed on the moon. He was quoted as saying about his country’s historical ties with the Filipino people, in his arrival speech in Manila, “We went through World War II together. We have gone through Korea together. We now have a war in Vietnam.”
In December of the year 1975, Gerald Ford became the fourth sitting American president to visit the country and as part of his Asian journey by which he also visited China and Indonesia. Ford saw the importance of a role that the United States would be playing in maintaining the peace and instability in the Asia-Pacific region. He was quoted as saying in one of his public speeches that “world stability and our own security depend upon our Asian commitments.”
Bill Clinton was able to visit the Philippines twice while in office. First was in 1993 right after his election to the presidency. The second one was in 1996 to attend APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit in Subic.
George Bush became the sixth sitting US head of state to visit the country in October 2003. Former Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo welcomed him and his delegates in the historical Malacanang Palace and the two leaders also addressed a joint session of the Philippine Congress.