(Updated 4:46 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines â€“ More than two million tourists, including Filipinos, have flocked to Washington DC in the wake of preparations for the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States.
With temperatures dipping between -5 to -22 degrees Celsius in the US capital, several tourists came to witness a historical event unfold even as only those with tickets are allowed to grace the event at the Capitol Hill.
"Alam namin itong inauguration is very historic [We know that this inauguration is very historic] and Obama was born and raised in Hawaii where we live now," a Filipina tourist said in an interview with GMA Newsâ€™ Raffy Tima over QTV Balitanghali on Tuesday.
Obama was born in Honolulu in 1961, two years after Hawaii became a state. He lived in Indonesia for four years when he moved there with his mother and stepfather, but he spent 14 of his first 18 years as an islander.
"I know there is no getting around the fact that for a first African-American male to be President is a historic moment never to be duplicated and to be part of that is really beyond excitement. Itâ€™s really great to come down here and do it," said another tourist from Connecticut.
Filipino exchange student Luisa Kristabel â€œAbbey" Manliclic wonâ€™t watch the inauguration on television. Unlike most of her peers, she has the rare chance to see the swearing-in of the first Black-American president right in the US capital.
While thousands of Americans, including Hollywood's A-listers, scramble to get hold of the coveted inaugural invitation, Manliclic would personally witness Obama taking his oath from Chief Justice John Roberts on the steps of the Capitol.
"I feel great, itâ€™s like a chance of a lifetime," the 16-year-old said in an interview with GMANews.TV. "Heâ€™s the first Black-American president so the event would be nothing short of great."
Two other Filipino students - college freshmen Paul Michael Thomas Cruz and Anna Marie Liwanag - have been invited to the inauguration and have reportedly flown to Washington.
Back in Manila, Abbey's father confessed he was more excited for her daughter. "I told her it might be impossible to take a picture with her and Obama," Abel, Abbey's father told GMANews.TV, "So she should take a picture with his wife, Michelle instead."