Rich and Famous To Fete Aquino in US

MANILA, Philippines --- The rich and the famous in the United States and the Philippines will fete President Benigno Aquino III when he arrives in Washington DC on June 7 to meet with US President Barack Obama.

President Aquino will be honored during the US-Philippines Society inaugural dinner to be held at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Maryland Avenue.

The event will be attended by the Society's founding co-chairs Filipino businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan and former US Ambassador to the Philippines John D. Negroponte, and other successful Filipino and American businessmen and politicans.

Pangilinan is the head of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, Associated Broadcasting Company (TV5), mobile phone giant Smart Communications, Metro Pacific Investments Corporation, Philex Mining Corporation, and a host of other business interests.

Negroponte served in the US Foreign Service from 1960 to 1997. He was assigned as US permanent representative to the United Nations from 2001 to 2004 during the Bush administration, and was ambassador to Iraq from June 2004 to April 2005. He also served as the US Deputy Secretary of State and as the first ever Director of National Intelligence.

In the formal invitation for the event, US-Philippines Society president and retired ambassador John F. Maisto said the Society's vision is to elevate the Philippines' profile in the US, to promote trade and investment, build shared strategic and political interests, and strengthen educational, cultural, tourism, and people-to-people ties, with an emphasis on educational exchanges.

''This vision was built on the rich historical ties between the Philippines and the United States to help bring that unique relationship fully into the 21st century, at a time when U.S. policy interests are increasingly focused on East Asia,'' said Maistro.

''With offices in Washington DC the Society will seek to draw more attention to US-Philippines relations through programs bringing together policy-makers, Congressional leaders, Think Tank analysts, academics, and the media,'' said the former ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Venezuela and Nicaragua.

The White House earlier announced the upcoming visit of President Aquino to Washington DC and his subsequent meeting with President Obama.

''The Philippines is a long-standing friend and ally of the United States, and (President Obama) looks forward to discussing with President Aquino the close strategic, economic and people-to-people ties between our two countries, and our cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region,'' the White House Press Secretary said in a statement.

''The two leaders will also discuss ways to deepen bilateral cooperation.''