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Tuesday, 14 November 2017 | MYT 3:02 PM

Step aside Trump, it’s a Trudeau ‘thrilla in Manila’

MANILA: US President Donald Trump may be the most powerful man in the world, but as far as the media covering the 31st Asean Summit was concerned, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is the rockstar!

The suave and engaging Canadian leader had the world's media eating out of his hands when he gave a press conference on Tuesday (Nov 14) at the International Media Centre here.

Alternating between English and French at the press conference, Trudeau received a standing ovation when he arrived and was mobbed by selfie-taking journalists when he left.

He started his speech by saying that Tagalog is spoken across all states in Canada, simply because Filipinos form the largest group of immigrants there.

And that set the tone for his charm offensive as he tackled everything from climate change to sexual and reproductive rights, and even contentious topics like extra-judicial killings and the Rohingya crisis.

This is Trudeau's second time in the Philippines – his first was in 2015 – and will likely not be his last because his stated goal was to get his country involved in the East Asia Summit (Asean plus dialogue partners).

“Asean has a population of 640 million – that’s twice the population of the United States.

“Asean is also Canada's sixth largest trading partner, so becoming part of the East Asia Summit makes sense. It will create economic opportunities for Canadian businesses as well as NGOs,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau is scheduled to attend the closing ceremony of the 31st Asean Summit later Tuesday before flying back to Vancouver for a security symposium starting Wednesday.