Dubai: People from the Philippines have been vital to the success of the UAE and they are members of the global community in this country, a UAE minister said during the 124th Philippines Independence Day celebrations in Dubai on Sunday.
Addressing hundreds of Filipino expats at Dubai World Trade Centre, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan said it was “a celebration of the remarkable Filipino community that constitutes a significant segment of our global culture.”
“Over the years, people from the Philippines have been of vital importance to the success of the United Arab Emirates. We see you in healthcare and administration, and hospitality and personal services, and IT and engineering, in fact, practically everywhere,” he said, to the thunderous applause of the audience.
“You have become a global member of the UAE’s global community. At the same time, you are resolute in your love for the Philippines and always communicate your pride for your country with your duty and dignity.”
Sheikh Nahyan said the country and its leaders have always encouraged all residents to reach their full potential to prosper and to contribute immensely to the development of the UAE.
He congratulated the Philippines on its impressive progress in all fields and its growing importance on the global stage. “We admire the Philippines’ commitment to achieve a prosperous future for all of its citizens.”
“As I participate in today’s celebration, I clearly see your pride in your country and its achievements. And its focus on improving the wellbeing of all of its citizens. I can also feel your pride and your country’s resolve to preserve all human values.”
The minister said it was a day of pride, happiness and hope for the future. “I also express my pleasure that this impressive gathering in Dubai this morning is a sign of the very strong relations between the Philippines and the UAE. Our two countries have high regard and respect for each other. The friendship between our two countries has benefited both our peoples and has contributed to global progress and prosperity. We share many experiences and many common interests and aspirations.
“Together, our two countries have developed very successful traditions of mutual understanding and constructive cooperation. I am very confident that our proven friendship will continue to strengthen and that the Philippines and the UAE will move forward together for a better and more peaceful world.”
The minister also invited others to join him in “wishing a prosperous future for the Philippines and its great people.”
Consul General of Philippines in Dubai Renato Duenas said the Philippines government has chosen for this year’s Independence Day commemoration the theme of “rising to the challenges of the new beginning.”
Organised by the Philippine Business Council (PBC), and @EmiratesLovesPhilippines page, he said the Sunday event also celebrated the theme “Celebrating Resilience, Thriving in Diversity.”
Having lived through the worst part of the epidemic in the past two years, Duenas said “we cannot help but think how lucky we are to be at this stage where although the scourge of the COVID 19 pandemic is not completely behind us, we are more or less confident that we can get through the toughest of challenges the world has seen in recent memory.”
The Consul General said resilience comes naturally to Filipinos probably because of the natural disasters they have to deal with year after year. He appreciated the contribution of the community members in fighting the perils of the pandemic and also thanked the UAE for the elaborate measures it took to protect the people here and the global community. He also congratulated the UAE government for the enormous success of the Expo 2020 Dubai that took place during the pandemic.
Duenas said businesses owned by Filipino are not just surviving but thriving in the UAE, indicating the thriving business atmosphere here.
The Consul General thanked the UAE government for the opportunity provided to the Filipino expats to live and work in the UAE and also for celebrating such special occasions. He also emphasised on the interest of all the “Kabayans overseas to work resolutely towards building closer and stronger ties with the people and government of the UAE for both of our peoples to have a better and brighter tomorrow.”
All under one roof
A colourful parade with well-choreographed performances and a cultural show with dance performances that displayed the traditions and heritage of the Philippines and a carnival for families, fashion show, musical shows, games and more were part of the event titled Kalayaan (Freedom) 2022. It witnessed performances of the Filipino actor and musician Carlo Aquino, in addition to a group of actors and artists from the UAE and the Philippines.
PBC chairman Marian Bobbie Carella and Emirates Loves Philippines project manager Josie Conlu expressed their happiness and pride in organising the event that united the Filipino community members, businesses and diplomats under one roof.
“This is the first such celebration organised by Emirates Loves Philippines and it is the first physical event of this scale [since the pandemic began],” said Conlu.
“Our goal was to celebrate the Philippines and the bond between Filipinos and Emirates together. The Emirati presence in the event reflected the distinguished and brotherhood relations between the people of the two countries. The event aimed at strengthening the brotherhood relations between the UAE and the Philippines, and provide more opportunities for social networking among the Filipino community, and all communities residing in the UAE.”
Emirati singer wows crowds
Emirati hitmaker Alira stunned the audience in Dubai with his rendition of popular Filipino songs.
The Take Flight singer launched into a medley of beloved Filipino and English love songs, including Dadalhin and I Don't Want to Miss a Thing. He sang in his trademark countertenor voice.
Amid cheers from the crowd at the end of his performance, Alira returned on stage as the audience demanded an encore. He obliged with a stunning rendition of the love song Bakit Nga Ba Mahal Kita.
Alira ended the show with a heartwarming rendition of Isang Lahi, a song that calls for love and unity across all races.
Proud, happy moments
Johnny Balindong, who has lived in the UAE for five years, said: “This event has reunited the Filipino community on such a large scale since the pandemic. I am very proud and happy to attend this event which has been fabulous and very entertaining. I thank the UAE government for giving us the opportunity to celebrate by taking all precautionary measures.”
Hadee Alviar, a Jordanian-Filipino who was born and raised in the UAE, said he was proof of the diverse culture in the UAE where people from various nationalities thrive. “This event really shows the cross-cultural harmony here. I am a byproduct of it.”
Juliana Rei, a grade 10 student of the New Filipino Private School in Sharjah, was among various students who presented cultural performances. She said: “I’m really overwhelmed. I feel really proud and happy that I’m able to represent my country and its culture even though I’m not living in the Philippines. I feel it is very important for children to know their culture and what they stand for even though they live in a different country.”
Senior citizen Amelia Cano, who came to the event with her two-year-old grandson Dean Avery, said she was excited to see her country being celebrated in another country in such a big way. “I have been here for only two years. This event has made me so excited and emotional. This has shown that Filipinos and the Emiratis are united in growing together.
The event which comes in line with the UAE’s efforts to strengthen the values of tolerance and coexistence, as an important component of the Emirati society, was held in cooperation with Dubai Police and the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Philippines.