PH-Australia Friendship Day in Iloilo City highlights history, culture

Iloilo is hosting the Philippines-Australia Friendship Day celebration.

As the celebration coincides with the commemoration of the Philippines’ National Heritage Month, there will be a series of activities that bring together history, culture and sustainability for the future.

Presidential Proclamation No. 1282, Series of 2016 declared May 22 of each year as Philippines-Australia Friendship Day to celebrate the longstanding diplomatic ties between the two countries.

“We know that Iloilo City values cultural heritage and is one of the most liveable cities in the

Philippines. We have taken our annual festival to ‘the Heart of the Philippines’ not only to celebrate Australia’s deep historical ties with Panay and the whole of Western Visayas, but also to share Australia’s common advocacies on sustainability and liveability,” said Australian Ambassador to the Philippines HK Yu PSM.

One of the highlights of the celebration will be the Philippines-Australia Friendship Day Festival in partnership with SM Supermalls.

To be held at SM City Iloilo on May 21, Ilonggos can experience Australia’s vibrant lifestyle and landscapes through a pop-up “Come and Say G’Day” exhibit, which will feature information booths about education and travel opportunities in Australia; a mini football clinic that will showcase Australia’s sports for development projects for the Iloilo youth; as well as live entertainment that celebrates Iloilo’s vibrant culture.

SM has been supportive of the city government and its effort to preserve its heritage and culture. In fact, while it is helping the city modernize its time-worn public markets through a public-private partnership, it is also making sure that the restoration of heritage buildings, specifically the Iloilo Central Market, is in accordance with existing guidelines for Cultural Heritage Preservation with the approval of the Iloilo City Cultural Heritage Conservation Council.

For SM Prime president Jeffrey Lim, it is an honor for them to be given the task to preserve the identity of the development site and showcase its grand architecture to the locals, the tourists and the rest of the Philippines.

Moreover, the restoration of the famous Molo Mansion in Molo district is another testament of SM’s commitment to cultural preservation. Shopping mall developer SM Land Inc. acquired the property, renovated and restored its former glory.

Currently, one of the city’s finest ancient homes is not just a tourist attraction but also serves as a vibrant hub for local micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to showcase their products. It does not only help local entrepreneurs and empowers local community but it also contributes to economic growth of the city.

Meantime, the Australian Ambassador expressed her gratitude to Mayor Jerry Treñas and the people of Iloilo City for the warm welcome and for the joint celebration.

Treñas, for his part, is also grateful as Iloilo City has been chosen to host the momentous event.

“This is a big boost towards stronger tourism and economic promotions of the metropolis. We hope to forge more ties with Australia, and for us to mutually benefit from this occasion as we aim for more collaborations,” the city mayor said.

Relative to this, Treñas issued Executive Order (EO) No. 046 declaring May 22, 2023 as Philippines-Australia Friendship Day in conjunction with Presidential Proclamation 1282, Series of 2016, and in recognition of enduring friendship between the Australian Government and the City of Iloilo.

Treñas cited in the EO that Australia has supported Iloilo City through capacity building programs for school officials and educators, construction of classrooms, sustainable livelihood programs, and agricultural research.

He added the city government recognizes the enduring friendship of the two countries, from deep historical ties through trade and people-to-people links, to the growing number of Australia-educated Filipinos from Western Visayas who form part of the vibrant Australia Global Alumni community.

“The strong ties have opened up more opportunities for growth and progress. We welcome the continued engagement as we upgrade the partnership from comprehensive to strategic,” the EO further stated.

Meanwhile, environmental endeavors will also highlight the Philippines-Australia Friendship Day with series of activities from May 19 to 21.

On May 19, Australia-educated Filipinos in Western Visayas are gathering Iloilo government and business leaders as well as the academe for a series of knowledge sessions on heritage conservation, sustainability and creating liveable cities.

Headlined by Paulo Alcazaren, the award-winning architect and urban planner who designed Iloilo City’s famous esplanade, the “Creating Liveable and Resilient Cities” forum and “Reconnect and Regenerate” summit will highlight best practices in urban development and sustainability in Australia and the Philippines.

On May 20 at 9 a.m., Mayor Treñas and Ambassador HK Yu PSM will lead the Friendship Day Tree Planting and unveiling of Australia’s donation of way-finders and bike racks at Plaza Libertad.

Moreover, there will be 3k, 5k and 10k Philippines-Australia Friendship Run that will kick off at the Freedom Grandstand going to Esplanade at Muelle Loney to Casa Real, Calle Real and back to the Freedom Grandstand on May 20 from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. Runners and walkers of all ages are invited to register and join the heritage run.

From May 21 to 28, there will be an unveiling of exhibit at SM City Iloilo, showcasing Alcazaren’s sketches of Australia’s famous landmarks that inspired his designs in Iloilo. The exhibit, which also features the photos and architectural plans behind Iloilo’s heritage attractions, will be on display during the weeklong Friendship Day Festival at the mall.

From May 22 to June 24, the “Manila Men: Retracing the journey of the First Filipinos in Australia Exhibition” will be launched at the National Museum – Western Visayas and will be open to the public.

“The photographic exhibit is drawn from the work of Filipino-Australian Dr. Deborah Ruiz-Walls, who has family links in Iloilo. It tells the story of the ‘Manila Men”, the first wave of Filipino migrants to Australia in the late 1800s, many of whom were from Western Visayas. It’s a remarkable and touching tribute to the early Filipino diaspora in Australia, and the contribution that they made to our communities,” shared Ambassador Yu.

“As we move towards elevating our relationship to a strategic partnership this year, it is fantastic to trace the early roots of our relationship,” she added. (via Panay News)

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