A storytelling session and a gift-giving program were held together with the teachers and kindergarten pupils of the Gan Etz Ha-Haim. The Jewish Association of the Philippines also donated books for the school as an early Christmas gift.
“I promised Mayor Isko that we will reach out to Manila to strengthen our friendship,” Ambassador Rafael Harpaz said. In his meeting with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno last August, the Israeli Ambassador promised to strengthen Israel and Manila’s friendship through educational and cultural events.
Sta. Ana Elementary School was specifically chosen because of Angela Briana Alforque, a five-year-old Filipina, who showed her love for Israel by dressing as Miss Israel during the United Nations Day celebration in Manila. She was inspired to dress as Miss Israel following the crowning of Israel’s Noy Ben Artzi as Miss Congeniality at the Miss Asia-Pacific International pageant in the Philippines on 9 October.
“I saw this article about the amazing Angela and her dreams about Israel,” Ambassador Harpaz said. “We chose Sta. Ana Elementary School to bring Israel closer to Angela and to the City of Manila,” he added.
The event also became a friendly get-together of the kindergarten pupils of Sta. Ana Elementary School and Gan Etz Ha Haim. The pupils enjoyed the story about A Tale of Five Balloons by Teacher Paz and Teacher Wini of the Jewish school and the story behind the eight candles of Hanukkah as told by Rabbi Eliyahu Azaria.
“I could see the smiles on the faces of the kindergarten pupils of Sta. Ana Elementary School and Gan Etz Ha Haim,” said Manila City Administrator Felix Espiritu, representative of Mayor Isko Moreno.
Also preesent were the faculty members of Sta. Ana Elementary School headed by Principal Leo Cabaruan. The delegation of the Israeli Embassy included Ambassador Rafael Harpaz, Deputy Chief of Mission Ms. Yulia Rachinksy-Spivakov, Consul Ms. Sarit Avivi and other staff members. The Jewish community was represented by Rabbi Eliyahu Azaria, Director of the Synagogue, Mr. Lee Blumenthal, and the kindergarten teachers, parents and pupils from Gan Etz Ha Haim.