President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Ceremonial Toast during the State Luncheon in Honor of His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco
Rizal Hall, Malacañan Palace
07 April 2016
 
Today, it is a distinct pleasure to welcome His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco back to our country. Indeed, over the years, His Serene Highness and other members of the Monegasque Royal Family have become close friends of the Filipino people. More than 16 years ago, our people welcomed the Prince during his last visit the Philippines. In 2004, we also welcomed his sister, Caroline, Princess of Hanover, and in 2006, we welcomed his eldest nephew Andrea.

Their visits here were not ones characterized by leisure. They made it a point to make a genuine connection by truly interacting with our people—even visiting areas like Payatas to meet less fortunate children. There is even a photo of His Serene Highness from 1999, enjoying a dance with some of our indigenous people. For this visit, I am told that His Serene Highness will be visiting the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park in Palawan, which I am confident will lend credence to our claim that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines.

Our people’s repeated interaction with the Monegasque Royal Family are enduring symbols of a friendship that goes beyond diplomacy. In fact, even before our diplomatic relations were formally established, you have been helping Filipinos through AMADE [Association Mondiale des Amis de l’Enfance or World Association of Children’s Friends], assisting victims of child abuse and exploitation and funding critical research for various illnesses.

The people of Monaco have always come through for our people in times of need, and perhaps there is no greater example than during the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan. While your state may not be the largest in the world, you still committed several hundred thousand euros to help those affected; you have helped prevent epidemics and rebuild infrastructure, and I speak on behalf of the Filipino people when I say: We will never forget your kindness.

The fellowship of nations has never been based on size, power, or influence. It has always been about our willingness to reach out to our brothers and sisters from other nations: to strengthen our ties with one another as we seek to build a better future for all peoples. Monaco may be far away, and it may be a relatively small country, but you reached out to the Philippines; you have made your kindness felt; and you will always be welcome on our shores.

On this note, may I ask everyone to join me in a toast:

To the good health of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco, and of the Monegasque Royal Family;

To the strengthening bond between the people of Monaco and the Filipino people;

And to the shared future towards which both our countries are working.

Here in the Philippines, we say: Mabuhay.