By: Embassy of the Republic of the Philippines, Seoul

Changwon, 07 October 2018 - The Philippines was chosen as this year's Featured Country at the 13th Migrants' Arirang Multicultural Festival (MAMF) which was held at the Yongji Munwha Park and Seongsan Art Hall in Changwon City in Gyeongsangnam Province on 05 to 07 October 2018. OWWA Deputy Administrator Arnaldo Ignacio was the guest of honor.

Members of the Filipino Community, in their festival and traditional Filipino wear, join the Multicultural Parade. Over 200 Filipinos, including Embassy officials and personnel, led by Amb. and Mme. Hernandez, participated. The Philippines bagged the Best in Parade award.
MAMF, which is organized annually by the Gyeongnam Migrants Center, led by its Chairman Lee Choulseong, with the support of Korean Ministry of Employment and Labor, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism, the city government of Chanwon, and the provincial government of Gyeongsangnam Province, is considered to be the largest multi-cultural festival in South Korea and is attended by migrants from 13 countries.

For this year, the Gyeongnam Migrants Center partnered with the Philippine Embassy in Seoul to ensure the Philippines' successful participation to the said Festival as the Featured Country.

Philippine Ambassador to South Korea Raul S. Hernandez, in his remarks at the Opening Show underscored the significance of the country's participation in the MAMF, stating that "MAMF's goals of encouraging mutual acceptance and developing the rights of the thousands of migrants in the country resonate well with the 67,000 Filipinos living in this country. As a country with about 10% of its population living in foreign lands, the Philippine government continues to work for the interests of our overseas nationals."

Ambassador Hernandez also highlighted that the Philippines' participation this year as the Featured Country was very opportune as the Festival served as an occasion to highlight the significance of the bilateral relationship between the Philippines and South Korea that has blossomed through the decades. "As we celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Establishment of Philippines and South Korea bilateral relations, we hope to demonstrate our commitment as a staunch partner of this great nation by lending our support to initiatives that contribute towards the development and promotion of South Korea," the Ambassador said.

As the Featured Country, the Philippines staged cultural performances by the Lahing Batangan Dance Troupe and the Song Weavers Philippines. The two groups successfully showcased the brilliance of Filipino talent and artistry through their rousing renditions of Filipino folk and modern songs and traditional dances.

The Lahing Batangan Dance Troupe is the official folk dance company of the Lyceum of the Philippines University- Batangas and has more than 15 years of experience promoting the rich and colorful culture of the Philippines through music, dances, and songs. Song Weavers Philippines, on the other hand, is a newly established choir group composed mostly of singers who have already been musically honed and are experienced in the choral scene.

Apart from the two cultural performing groups, Filipino celebrity artist Tom Rodriguez was also at the Festival to serenade the crowd with heartwarming Filipino love songs. A talent of GMA Network, Mr. Rodriguez is widely known for his roles in local television dramas 'Be Careful with My Heart,' 'Temptation Island,' 'My Husband's Lover,' and 'My Destiny.'

The Embassy, through the Philippine Department of Tourism Korea (PDOT), operated a tourism promotions booth where partner agencies Hana Tour and Philippine Airlines offered discounted tour packages to Cebu, Manila, Clark, Bohol, and Boracay. There was also a raffle event where participants instantly gifted with small prizes such as Philippine snacks, shopping bags, magnets, and USBs among others. Two (2) raffle winners, meanwhile, received a roundtrip ticket to Manila courtesy of Philippine Airlines.

Aside from the activities in the tourism booth, the Philippine Agriculture Office in Seoul, in close partnership with their tropical fruit exporters, showcased new fresh fruit offerings. These include fresh saba bananas, green papayas, premium sweet mangoes, and sweet papayas (from Diamond Star Agro Products, Inc.) and senorita bananas (from DOLE). They also prepared food sampling and will demonstrate various ways to cook the saba banana.

The Embassy also hosted a luncheon reception on 07 October for the VIP guests of the Festival, which includes the Ambassadors of Bangladesh, Cambodia, Nepal, and Pakistan, representatives from the other foreign missions, members of the MAMF Board of Promotions and the Executive Committee, as well as cultural performers from other countries.

Ambassador Hernandez and DA Ignacio also held meetings with Gyeongsangnam Governor Kim Gyeong-soo, Changwon City Mayor Hur Song-moo, and the Chairman of the Changwon Chamber of Commerce.

The highlight of the Festival was the multicultural parade that was participated into by 13 countries. The Philippines, being the Featured Country, opened the parade with over 200 Filipinos, including Embassy officials and personnel, in their colorful traditional and festival wear joining the delegation. The Philippines bagged the Best Parade award.