Dubai: Filipinos showcased their colourful culture and heritage during the Philippines Pavilion National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday.
The celebration centred on the theme and name of the pavilion, which is Bangkóta or coral reef in the early Tagalog language as cultural performances focused on telling the narrative of Philippine history dating back to 4,000 years, when their Austronesian ancestors spread throughout Southeast Asia.
Organisers said the Philippines National Day highlighted not only the country’s natural resources but also the similarities between coral reef and Filipinos, meaning “both grow into colonies that thrive throughout the world”.
The same message was articulated by Ramon Lopez, the Secretary of Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), who spoke on behalf of the Philippine government during the official ceremonies at Expo’s iconic Al Wasl Dome.
Lopez said: “The Philippines Pavilion is aptly named Bangkota. Like corals, a single polyp can travel across the ocean and can be stitched to grow into bigger corals. Filipinos travel, migrate and build vibrant communities wherever they go. They assimilate and contribute to economies of countries they settle in.”
Thank you, UAE
Newly-appointed Philippine Consul-General Renato N. Duenas, Jr echoed the same sentiments and told Gulf News: “The celebration of the Philippines National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai is a celebration of the Filipino as a nation and as a people. We thank the UAE government for giving us the opportunity to showcase to the world our history and ideas.”
Abu Dhabi-based Filipino entrepreneur Rolly Brucales added: “We are truly proud as our culture and identity as a Filipino has taken centre-strage at the world’s greatest show. It is truly a pride and honour to celebrate our rich and colourful tradition with the world at Expo 2020 Dubai.”
Another Filipino expat, Jolivette Dela Cruz, managing director of Chef Signature in Sharjah, said: “Like Bangkota, we grow and thrive throughout the world and I call on my kababayans (countrymen) to continue shining and share their talents and skills as productive Filipinos in the UAE and beyond.”
Talks on Philippine history
The National Day celebrations at the Philippines Pavilion continues on Saturday, February 12, with a symposium titled, Bangkóta Talks, The Filipino as Austronesian. Filipino historians Ambeth Ocampo and Xiao Chua, as well as Bangkóta curator Marian Pastor Roces will share scientific data, expertise and insights to reinforce the pavilion’s overall message about Filipino emergence having taken place over thousands of years.
All three speakers will take the opportunity presented by the 500th anniversary of the circumnavigation of the globe by the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan, which coincides with the Expo 2020 Dubai, to deepen the Philippine story all the way to cultural beginnings of Filipinos around 4,000 years ago.”