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India celebrates Independence Day

Around the world, the national day is usually celebrated with parades and pageants, particularly in regions with higher concentrations of Indian immigrants.

Vernon Velasco



THE Indian march from previous India Day celebrations.

One of the three national days of India, Independence Day, is celebrated religiously every year throughout the country on 15 August.

On that same day in August 1947, India was declared independent from its British colonizers, so that they could establish their own Indian government. It was a long and winding road to peace and independence, one that had witnessed the sacrifices of many freedom fighters, who fought against the 200-year colonialism, like Mohandas Ghandi, whose principle of Satyagraha resisted the tyranny through mass nonviolent civil disobedience.

As he is wont to do on the eve of Independence Day, the Indian President delivers his address to the nation, highlighting the past year’s achievements, raising important issues and calling for further development. He then pays tribute to the leaders of the Indian independence movement.

It is customary that the Prime Minister hoists the Indian flag on the ramparts of the historical site of Red Fort in Delhi. Twenty-one gun shots puncture the silence of the solemn occasion. The Prime Minister marches to the Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana,” past divisions of the Indian Armed Forces and paramilitary forces. Parades and pageantries reenact India’s struggle for independence, as well as India’s diverse cultural traditions.

Governmental and non-governmental institutions throughout the country, in normal circumstances, partake in the celebration through flag-hoisting ceremonies and cultural events. National flags of different sizes are used abundantly to symbolize allegiance to the country. Major government buildings, meanwhile, are adorned with strings of lights. In Delhi and some other cities, kite-flying adds to the occasion. Citizens adorn their clothing, wristbands, cars, household accessories with replicas of the tri-color. The celebration has changed through time from emphasizing nationalism to a broader celebration of all things India.

Around the world, the national day is usually celebrated with parades and pageants, particularly in regions with higher concentrations of Indian immigrants. In some locations, such as New York and other US cities, 15 August has become “India Day” among the diaspora and the local populace. Pageants celebrate “India Day” either on 15 August or an adjoining weekend day.

With COVID-19, the Ministry of Defence is organizing the usual Independence Day Flag Hoisting Ceremony on 15 August at Red Fort in Delhi, with usual health precautions. It is a by-invitation only gathering — about 4,000 officials, diplomats, members of media and guests are expected to join the event.

The Embassy of India in Manila, meanwhile, regrets to inform the Indian community and friends of India in the Philippines that, in view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the modified enhanced community quarantine guidelines enforced in Metro Manila, it is unable to host customary in-person Independence Day celebrations this year. Independence Day activities, meanwhile, will be later shared on its social-media handles.


Embassy Row

Honoring 70th anniversary of Phl troops in Korean War

The Philippines was the third country in the world that sent ground troops to Korea, following the US and UK, and 7,420 Filipino soldiers served in Korea for the three years from 19 September 1950 when they arrived in Busan port to 13 May 1950.





The Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs (MPVA) hosted a ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Philippine Forces’ participation in the Korean War — and the Filipino soldiers who arrived in Busan Korea on 19 September 1950 — at the Korean War Monument to the Philippine Armed Forces in Goyang, Gyeonggi-do.

While complying with regulations to prevent the spread of COVID-19, participants including Minister Park Sam-duck, Charge de Affairs Christian de Jesus of the Philippine Embassy, Vice Admiral Stuart Campbell Mayer who represents the United Nations Command as Deputy Commander and Goyang Mayor Lee Jae-joon, deputy commander of the ROK Army 1 Corps, will pay the utmost tribute to the fallen heroes.

The Philippines was the third country in the world that sent ground troops to Korea, following the United States and United Kingdom, and 7,420 Filipino soldiers served in Korea for the three years from 19 September 1950 when they arrived in Busan port to 13 May 1950.

The Filipino soldiers operated alongside the United States 25th Infantry Division from 1 October 1950 and made great achievements in the Battle of Yultong in April 1951 and among them, 112 made the ultimate sacrifice, 288 were wounded, 16 went missing in action, and 41 became prisoners of war.

The Philippine troops had not only supported Korea to reconstruct itself after the war, but also contributed a small number of troops to the United Nations Command to overseas the armistice.

To mark the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, the MPVA has several programs in place to express the country’s gratitude to UN veterans of the Korean War including the Filipino veterans.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the MPVA held the 70th anniversary of the Korean War commemoration ceremony and the UN Forces’ participation day ceremony, expressing the country’s appreciation to UN veterans. Last May, the MPVA sent facial masks to the veterans in the Philippines to help them fight against COVID-19.

In November, the MPVA plans to hold a memorial ceremony and the music concert to coincide with the international memorial day for UN veterans (11 November).

Filipino veterans and their families have expressed special friendship between the two countries in recent interviews with the Korean Embassy and the Korean Cultural Center in the Philippines.

The MPVA said “we plan various programs and policies to honor and remember the service and sacrifice of UN veterans of the Korean War, including Filipino veterans, and continue our shared history and legacy of the Korean War with their descendant and our future generations.

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Embassy Row

Dutch Embassy  supports LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs

The program will be conducted through a blended-learning approach that uses both online and offline materials. It will be an 11-module program personalized for each participant according to their self-declared schedule.

Care Balleras



Embassy of Netherlands in Manila promotes LGBT rights and Welfare during the Mindanao Pride 2018. / Photograph courtesy of FB/SPARKPhilippines

The Embassy of Netherlands partnered with Quezon City government and Samahan ng mga Pilipino para sa Kaunlaran (SPARK!) Philippines to launch a digital business program for aspiring lesbian, bisexual and transexual (LBT) women entrepreneurs.

Twenty-five women of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity from Quezon City will be given the necessary tools and information to start a business. They were selected based on their financial background and commitment to finish the program.

Funding will also be shouldered by the program to serve as an initial capital to fully realize each business pursuit.

The program will be conducted through a blended-learning approach that uses both online and offline materials. It will be an 11-module program personalized for each participant according to their self-declared schedule.

SPARK! Philippines president Imelda Nicolas said in a statement that gender issues took a backseat even further because of the continuing crisis.

“Due to the pandemic, gender issues have taken a backseat and this has also exposed the deep-rooted inequalities that still exist in our society. In an effort to support the LGBTQ+ community and combat these problems, SPARK! is working closely with its partners to make entrepreneurship and economic empowerment as accessible as possible,” she shared.

Women’s economic empowerment has been the flagship campaign of SPARK! Philippines. Apart from the mentioned Quezon City-based program, it already built fundamental workshops all over the country to support enterprises aspired by Filipino women.

Its recent round of workshops was a Luzon-focused one helping 30 women entrepreneurs in partnership with Office of the Vice President Leni Robredo’s Angat Buhay program and Coca-Cola Foundation.

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Embassy Row

LDWDC receives Home Biogas System donation

LDWDC was formed in 1990 to advocate rights, recognition and equal opportunity of disabled women.

Pauline Songco



Damon Sayavong explains how the Home Biogas System works during a tour of the unit at the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center./ PhotographS courtesy of SCK Group Laos

With support from the SCK Group Laos, the Philippine Embassy in Vientiane was able to turnover a Home Biogas System to the Lao Disabled Women’s Development Center (LDWDC) on 11 September. The ceremony was attended by Embassy personnel, LDWDC and SCK Group Laos representatives.

Chanpheng Sivila, LDWDC director, expressed her appreciation for the donation as this will allow the center to cut costs from purchasing coals every month. The system will also permit the members to use liquid fertilizers in growing vegetables in their gardens.

The Home Biogas System is a unit that produces cooking gas and liquid fertilizer with food waste naturally broken down by bacteria. The unit provided to the LDWDC will be able to produce seven hours of cooking gas for the 70 staff and trainees.

While Philippine Ambassador to Laos Belinda Ante highlighted the longstanding partnership of the Embassy and LDWDC during the ceremony Damon Sayavong, general manager of the SCK Group, talked about the company’s purpose in Laos in assisting poverty alleviation efforts, particularly in remote areas and disadvantaged communities.

LDWDC was formed in 1990 to advocate rights, recognition and equal opportunity of disabled women. The group’s center was established in 2001 after the Law on Disability was passed.

As of August 2020, SCK Group has already installed 32 Home Biogas systems in Laos.

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Embassy Row

Roadmap for human resource dev’t launched

Pauline Songco



Labor and education ministers of ASEAN member states launched the roadmap of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work. / Photograph courtesy of

In a virtual high-level conference last 16 September chaired by Vietnam, labor and education ministers of ASEAN member states launched the roadmap of the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work, adopted during the 36th ASEAN Summit in June 2020.

The declaration states concrete strategies and actions expected to guide ASEAN sectoral bodies on labor, education and relevant stakeholders with regards to their cooperation and coordination for the next decade to build a resilient, adaptable and future-ready human resources.

ASEAN Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said, “The adoption and launching of the Roadmap today is quite timely as its identified outcomes and strategies provide guidance on how ASEAN can shape the direction of human resource policies that will prepare our workforce to be resilient and future ready.”

Aside from responding to the changing world of work due to technology and demographic transition, the roadmap also addresses the promotion of IT infrastructure, innovation and use of technology in teaching and learning approaches.

Witnessed by over 100 local participants in Ha Noi, the launching was attended by representatives of relevant ASEAN sectoral bodies, Embassies, ASEAN Dialogue Partners, academia, private sector, employers’ association, trade union, UN Agencies, international organisations and other stakeholders.

The ASEAN Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Council was also simultaneously launched during the conference. Comprised of 39 member officials, the Council is chaired by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority of the Philippines for 2020-2022.

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Embassy Row

Celebrating ASEAN Day in Doha

Ambassador Abu Bakr expressed optimism in ACD’s continued efforts in promoting ASEAN’s interest and in forging a partnership with the host country in various fields.

Pauline Songco



Heads of Missions and officials attend the 53rd foundnig anniversary rites of the ASEAN Committee in Doha. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ASEAN.ORG

In commemoration of the 53rd founding anniversary of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Committee in Doha (ACD), outdoor hoisting of the ASEAN flag and playing of the ASEAN anthem was held on 6 September with the ACD Heads of Missions and its officials, the Chief Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the local media. The celebration was deferred for a month to coincide with the final phase of the lifting of local health restrictions in Qatar.

Brunei Ambassador to Qatar, His Excellency Muhamed Bahrin Abu Bakr, echoed the call of ASEAN Secretary General Dato Lim Jock Hoi in developing a robust, holistic and pragmatic post-pandemic recovery framework to mitigate the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the people of ASEAN.

In addition, Ambassador Abu Bakr described Qatar as an example that nations should follow in terms of successfully managing the COVID-19 health crisis. He further commended its state-run airline, Qatar Airways, for its role and effort in repatriating hundreds of thousands of displaced and stranded nationalities all over the world amid the pandemic.

In conclusion, Ambassador Abu Bakr expressed optimism in ACD’s continued efforts in promoting ASEAN’s interest and in forging a partnership with the host country in various fields.

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Embassy Row

For peace, prosperity and partnership

In addition, the sectors of education, trade and investment, infrastructure, information and technology and tourism are also being taken into account.

Pauline Songco



Strengthening the relations and cooperation of ASEAN-ROK for 2021-2025. / PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF ASEAN.ORG

The ASEAN-Republic of Korea (ROK) issued a five-year plan of action (PoA) that aims to implement their joint vision statement on Peace, Prosperity and Partnership for the year 2021-2025.

One of the PoA’s highlights is the strengthening of cooperation in ASEAN-led regional processes and arrangements such as ASEAN Plus One, ASEAN Plus Three, the East Asia Summit (EAS), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus besides the enhancement of engagement at other relevant regional and multilateral fora in promotion of peace, stability, security, development and prosperity in the region.

The PoA further promotes the protection and conservation of marine environment, and sustainability of the oceans in accordance with the UNCLOS. In addition, the sectors of education, trade and investment, infrastructure, information and technology and tourism are also being taken into account.

Meanwhile, efforts regarding universal health coverage, including access to basic healthcare, sharing of health technology and capacity building for health workforce and system are being facilitated.

Review of this PoA will be made through the ASEAN PMC +1 Session with the ROK, the ASEAN-ROK Dialogue and the ASEAN-ROK Joint Cooperation Committee. Progress report of the implementation of this PoA will be submitted to the annual ASEAN-ROK Summit.

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H.E Huang Xilian: ‘China will prioritize PH’

‘At the height of China’s progress, the Philippine government and its people from all walks of life provided valuable support and assistance. We are very grateful for the help and assistance,’ the Chinese ambassador said.

Vernon Velasco



THE seasoned diplomat (in photo, extreme right) led the turnover of 150,000 testing kits and 18,000 disposable overalls to the Philippine government on 10 May. Also present were DFA secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. (center) and Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr./ Photograph courtesy of

With China actively engaging in vaccine research to see completion of a COVID-19 vaccine soon, Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xillian said his country would prioritize distribution to the Philippines, according to the consensus reached by President Xi Jinping and President Duterte on strengthening the allied countries’ bilateral vaccine cooperation.

“We will share the vaccine with the country when it is successfully developed,” Huang told Daily Tribune during the ambassador’s guesting on the paper’s Straight Talk Facebook Live program on 8 September.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, China has been actively engaging in vaccine research and development.

At press time, the World Health Organization is evaluating eight candidate vaccines in the Phase-3 trials, the final phase before commercial use. Out of the eight candidate vaccines, four are from Chinese vaccine developers, among them: SinoPharm of China, China National Biotec Group and SinoVac Biotech.

Huang said the vaccine being made by SinoPharm has already conducted the clinical trials for more than 30,000 people in United Arab Emirates, among them more than 1,500 Filipinos.

A FEW days before ECQ was declared in Luzon, Ambassador Huang meets President Rodrigo Duterte to discuss mutual ways of mitigating COVID-19 on 11 March. / Photograph courtesy of

“We are happy to learn that the trial is going smoothly, and the vaccine works quite well and no severe negative impacts have been detected. We hope that they can be successfully developed after the completion of the third phase of the clinical trials,” he said.

According to Huang, the two countries have been helping each other especially since COVID-19 hit, demonstrating a long-standing, profound friendship, and forging unprecedented partnerships.

“In light of the pandemic, we have been keen on helping our Filipino friends within our capability. China extended help through sending its medical team from China to share their experiences without any reservations. That was the first and the only one — in a sense — of its kind: a country sending a medical team to another since the outbreak,” Huang said.

China also provided the Philippines, much-needed medical supplies, and helped the Philippines in increasing its testing capabilities.

“We also did our best to help the medical frontliners to tide over difficulties in fighting the pandemic. We also tried to assist the Philippines to procure and transport medical supplies from China. China has been the main source of supplies of medical products in fighting COVID-19, and we have also granted a special kind of permit for Philippine ships, even naval ships and Air Force planes to go to China and ferry those medical supplies,” Huang said.

China also helped local Filipino families to get through this difficult time. It has been providing assistance to tens of thousands of families who are suffering from hardships, donating about 20 million kilograms of rice from China, which benefited about half a million families in the Philippines.

THE ambassador graced Daily Tribune’s ‘Straight Talk’ Facebook live show on 8 September. / Photograph courtesy of tribunenow

Huang also profusely acknowledged the Philippines’ assistance to China in helping fight the pandemic.

“At the height of China’s progress, the Philippine government and its people from all walks of life provided valuable support and assistance to China. We are very grateful for the help and assistance,” he said.

Earlier this year, China contributed P35-million to assist victims of the Mindanao earthquake, Typhoon Ursula and Taal volcano to help the victims return to their normal lives.

“We commend the pandemic efforts of the Philippine government and its people. We are comforted that, under the leadership of President Duterte, the government and the people of the Philippines will be able to overcome the pandemic,” Huang said. “I stand together with the people and government of this country to jointly tackle the challenge of the pandemic and tide over difficult times.”

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Embassy Row

Flavorful ASEAN Journeys

Francine M. Marquez



THE Asean Ladies Foundations Zoom launch on September 2020. PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF THE ASEAN LADIES FOUNDATION INC.

Solidarity and appreciating both diversity and likeness have been key to the harmonious ties the ASEAN has forged through the years. Besides the commitment of each member countries’ diplomats to keep relations thriving, the ASEAN Ladies Foundation Inc. (ALF) has also been active in supporting this vision of unity and strength in the region.

This week, the ASEAN Ladies Foundation Inc. (ALF), in cooperation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and PXP Energy Corporation, made another milestone with the successful launch of a series of cooking videos that showcase beloved national recipes from the ASEAN countries.

The  video series Flavorful Journeys: Exploring ASEAN Cuisine, shows that learning the cultures of our ASEAN neighbors is not always limited to travels abroad. Thanks to the power of the Internet, foodies and home cooks will have a fun opportunity to cook as the locals do, and also learn a little bit about the history and culture of each ASEAN nation’s cuisine.

The ALF is a non-profit organization incorporated in 2007. The organization was created to help strengthen the ties between the ASEAN member countries by fostering unity and cooperation through socio-cultural programs and events.

Truly a labor of friendship, pride for one’s home cuisine and love for the region — shooting the video series was admittedly no easy feat especially during this pandemic. With strict quarantine measures in place in Manila, the ALF had to forego their annual culture festival to celebrate ASEAN month. Noticing that a lot of people have become more creative and productive in the kitchen during the lockdown, the foundation members thought of an interesting and inspiring way to highlight home cooking from their respective countries.

“Flavorful Journeys: Exploring ASEAN Cuisine shares memories and inspirations about the various countries through their everyday dishes. And as everyone has been learning in this pandemic, the region has truly become borderless — thanks to the power of connectivity and the growth of various digital platforms.


At the online launch on 1 September, the ALF representatives from each member country led by Chairperson Mme. Louie Locsin and ALF president Mme. Linda Rahmanto of Indonesia shared their excitement over this new way of reaching out to the public.

“Food brings people together. We noticed that a lot of people have become creative and productive in the kitchen, especially during this pandemic. So we thought that creating cooking videos highlighting some of the most beloved dishes from our respective countries was a good way to share a little bit of home with everyone,” Mme. Locsin said.

The curated dishes brim with cultural relevance in each country. All the culinary videos are aimed towards attracting more people not only to understand the process in making these dishes, but also to gain insight into the culture of our neighboring ASEAN countries.

All 10 countries were deliciously represented in the very informative series. From the Embassy of Brunei Darussalam had Ambuyat; from the Embassy of Cambodia, Trey Amok (Steamed Fish Curry); Indonesia had Ayam Bakar Bumbu Rujak (grilled chicken in rujak sauce) and Jamu Kunyit Asam (Herbal Drink); Laos had Larp / Larb Kai (Chicken Salad); Malaysia presented Ayam Masak Merah (Spicy Tomato Chicken); Myanmar shared its Mohinga recipe; Philippines showed how to prepare Adobo sa Gata; Singapore had the popular street chow Hokkien Mee; Thailand presented Creamy Tom Yum Goong; and Vietnam was the all-time favorite Goi Cuon (Fresh Spring Rolls).

To get the full recipes, follow the ASEAN Ladies Foundation, Inc. on Facebook and view the respective cooking videos of the member ASEAN country.

Consider the video series as a taste of more things to come as the ALF women continue their quest to promote all things ASEAN. According to Mme. Locsin: “Though the pandemic has more or less stopped the world in its tracks, it doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t reach out to our fellow neighbors. As the ASEAN Ladies’ Foundation, we wanted to show how unity, even the virtual kind can help strengthen bonds.

Sharing more positive news, Mme. Locsin continued: “We are planning on joining forces with the IBF (International Bazaar Foundation) and SHOM (Spouses of Heads of Mission). Every year these two foundations hold the International Bazaar. Traditionally held in November, as many as 35 foreign countries and 200 local retailers participate. Last year we had 6,000 people visit and shop! It’s like shopping around the world. We hope to be able to do something like this via online.”

Get the recipes of all featured dishes of Youtube and the ALF Facebook page.

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Embassy Row

‘Extraterritorial’ writers at InstitutoCervantes

Vernon Velasco




Instituto Cervantes centers in Madrid, Manila, Beijing and Shanghai will present “Extraterritorial,” a webinar on literature on 9 September, where writers Elia Barceló (Spain), Daisy López (Philippines) and Siu Kam Wen (Peru) will talk about their literary relationship with the Spanish language as authors who reside and produce their literary work in countries with other linguistic realities. The discussion, moderated by the Peruvian writer Fernando Iwasaki, will be conducted in Spanish with simultaneous translation in English and Chinese.

Barceló has lived in Austria since 1981, where she was a professor of Hispanic literature and studies at the University of Innsbruck until 2017. Except for a few publications in English and German, all her works — 30 novels, a literary essay, articles and more than 60 stories — have been written in Spanish and later translated into nineteen languages. “I am my thoughts. My thoughts are made of words and those words are the ones I learned in my childhood, in my country, in Spanish; They are my mother tongue, an inalienable treasure. “

Lopez, a Spanish and Italian professor at the University of the Philippines, has written poetry in Spanish that was published in Spain, in Argentina and in the Dominican Republic. She is a member of the Academia Filipina, corresponding to the Royal Spanish Language Academy.

Siu Kam Wen (Xiao Jinrong) was born in Zhongshan, Guangdong, China, in 1950, but grew up in Lima, Peru, where he learned to speak and write in Spanish. He has published the collections of short stories El tramo final, a landmark in the history of Peruvian literature and La primera espada del imperio; and the novels La estatua en el jardín, El furor de mis ardores, La vida no es una tómbola, El verano largo and Viaje a Ítaca. Two of his books have been translated into Chinese and are awaiting publication in 2020. He has been living in Hawaii since 1985.

Iwasaki has published more than 20 volumes of fiction and non-fiction. He contributes regularly to various newspapers and magazines. His works have been translated into half a dozen languages, including Russian, English, French, Italian, Romanian and Korean.

The online discussion, presented by Instituto Cervantes de Manila in collaboration with Instituto Cervantes centers in Madrid, Beijing and Shanghai, and the Embassy of Spain in the Philippines, will be conducted on the Zoom platform in Spanish, but simultaneous translation in English and Chinese will be provided. Admission is free on a first-come, first served basis. Access the webinar at

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