Grand Winner Eyzell and Joy Salinel (centre) celebrate their winning song. Flanking them are 2nd Placer Bernardo Granado (far right), Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes (fifth from left) and Dr Yasmin Cortes (fifth from right), along with the other winners of the Dubai, Dubai Musikahan competition. Image Credit: Chris Calumberan

Dubai: More than 500 members of the Filipino community in the UAE attended a musical extravaganza held on Friday to commemorate the National Language Month of the Philippines.

The first of its kind event to be organised by a Philippines Consulate General was held at the Asiana Hotel in Dubai and saw 12 finalists of a song-writing competition perform in their native language for a rapt audience. The event showcased the diverse creative talents of the community.

Paul Raymund Cortes, the Consul General of the Philippines in the UAE, attended the event.

The National Language Month is celebrated every August by the Philippines, a country with over 70 languages and dialects, of which Filipino is predominant.

“We wanted to come up with a competition, in as much as the Philippines has been known for or reputed to be, a global musician, one who is able to sing, dance, perform and write music. Knowing that in Dubai and Northern Emirates there aren’t too many avenues for Filipinos to express their creativity here, we decided to organise an event which showcases the global repute of the Filipino,” Cortes said.

The Consul General observed that the Philippines is a melting pot of languages, with 13 languages spoken by at least one million people each.

“It’s a sizable linguistic society we have in the Philippines and the National Language Month is a celebration to make everyone aware of that. Now when you juxtapose the music and the language together, you have something like this event called Dubai, Dubai Musikahan, which means musical spectacle,” he said.

Cortes added that the aim of such activities was to encourage Filipinos to unleash their innate creativity, whether it was through song-writing, dance, or performing other arts.

There were 40 submissions to the song-writing competition with the theme of national unity for progress, Cortes said. “Filipinos were able to write their songs in their native languages.

“We are encouraging Filipinos to be more confident of themselves and aware that they are able to contribute in many ways. They have played a role in the success of the UAE economy. Dubai is now the centre of aviation, trade finance, tourism and art, and Filipinos have played a role in that, which is something we should be very proud of.”

The event was open to people of other nationalities as well and entry was free and featured Filipino artists, dancers and choirs besides other performers.

Three winners of the song-writing competition were announced at the end of the event and received cash prizes besides winning for themselves free tours of the Philippines.

“The Philippines Consulate General and Filipino Ladies in Dubai are deep into preparations for other cultural and community events,” Cortes said.

“We have other events in the pipeline and we hope the entire UAE community take notice of how talented and great the Filipino contributions is,” he added.