Visitors admire works by artist Manuel D. Baldmor at the Philippine 121st Independence Day reception in Dubai. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Dubai: The Filipino community in Dubai and the Northern Emirates marked the 121st Philippine Independence Day on Sunday night showcasing the depth and breadth of Filipino culture.

The diplomatic reception is part the month-long programme by the Philippine Consulate-General to mark the founding anniversary of the proclamation of its independence from Spain on June 12, 1898.

Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, attended the reception along with senior government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and community members.

During the event, Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes expressed his gratitude to the UAE for joining the community in marking its Independence Day on June 12 when the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made tower, lit up with the Philippine colours and the Dubai Festival City’s Imagine show featured Philippine history in a unique laser and light show.

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Philippine Consul-General Paul Raymund Cortes sings a song as Max Garcia plays the guitar. Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

“Permit me to say thank you to Dubai Festival City and the Al Futtaim group, Emaar, Dubai Parks and Resorts and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Your initiatives have given hundreds of thousands of Filipinos living here a new shining hope. You’ve also given a mesmerised Filipino community across the globe [an example] as you paint the UAE as a progressive, modern, sovereign state that accepts, welcomes, acknowledges and embraces us as warmly as the Dubai summer heat,” Cortes said.

Dubai Vocal Ensemble sing popular folk song 'Paru-parong bukid' Jancie Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter

Addressing the community, Cortes said the consulate for the past four years has been engaging its constituency, bridging the consulate and the community so the latter would know how the consulate can play a more meaningful role in their lives.

“The consulate has embarked on a very proactive campaign to engage our community, extending our reach to the Filipinos in Dubai and the northern emirates, strengthening our consular services so that they are more efficient, more effective, more flexible, less cumbersome and less stringent to accommodate the myriad of predicaments our countrymen face,” he said.

Dubai Vocal Ensemble sing The Lion King's 'Circle of Life' Janice Ponce de Leon, Staff Reporter

“We also have stretched our arms so that we partner with the larger community, cementing that bond between the government and the people we serve. We have organised several programmes that would enhance, highlight and rejuvenate the artistic pursuits of our overseas Filipinos be it in music, writing, dance, history and paintings.”

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Manuel Baldemor Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

To demonstrate this, Cortes said that a special art exhibition by Manuel Baldemor, one of the Philippines’ most prolific artists, was on display at the reception.

The paintings under the theme ‘Islamic Philippines’ feature the beauty of the ‘Morolandia Sultanates’, Baldemor said, as they were the among the most highly civilised of the Philippine islands from centuries ago.

Works of five rising Filipino fashion designers — Ryan Pacioles, Harvey Cenit, Garimon Roferos, Benj dela Rosa and Izhcha Zeta — were also on display at the reception.

All-Filipino choir Dubai Vocal Ensemble also serenaded the crowd with a popular folk song titled ‘Paru-parong Bukid’ (Butterfly in the Farm) and ‘The Circle of Life’ to celebrate the UAE’s diverse society.

Meanwhile, Cortes thanked the Filipino community and its leaders for their support during the Independence Day community celebrations at the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) on Friday — the biggest so far — with total in-and-out audience traffic of approximately 50,202 people according to DWTC.