Tel Aviv PE Fosters Ties Through Music and Dance


(Clockwise from top) Philippine Fair performers wave the flag during the program Finale; Master Jon Escudero demonstrates arnis techniques in disarming an opponent; Embassy staff perform the "Pandango sa Ilaw;" Guy Kaplan performs "Inner Silence."

25 July 2013 Haifa, State of Israel – More than a thousand Israelis and Filipinos trooped to the Castra Center in Haifa to witness Philippine Fair 2013 on 24 and 25 July 2013. The Fair, which was organized by the Philippine Embassy in cooperation with the Municipality of Haifa, Castra Center and Western Union, is a much-anticipated event in Haifa which features booths selling Philippine handicrafts, food and other products. A two-day cultural program also takes place during the Fair, showcasing Filipino music and dances.

Philippine Fair 2013 kicked off with a ribbon-cutting ceremony to open the Photo Exhibit "Yesterday and Today: A Look at Philippines – Israel Relations Through the Years." The Exhibit was housed within the Castra Center and displayed photographs from as far back as the 1930's, during the time of the Philippines' "Open Door Policy." The Open Door Policy allowed more than 1,200 European Jews to flee the Holocaust and seek refuge in the Philippines.

The Exhibit also included photographs of the Philippine Embassy and its activities since 1962, as well as short-listed entries from the Embassy's 2012 Photo Contest "Perspectives of 50 Years of Philippines - Israel Friendship."

Mr. Eli Kules, member of the Haifa Municipality Foreign Relations Committee and City Council, started the program by welcoming the audience and expressing his appreciation for the good relations between Israel and the Philippines. He thanked the Philippines for their role in saving Jews during the Second World War and proposed that the Philippine Embassy and the Municipality of Haifa collaborate on more projects.

Mrs. Aviva Dankner, owner of Castra Mall, also reiterated her appreciation for the Philippines' Open Door Policy. She noted what a kind and loving people Filipinos were and thanked them for their good work in taking care of the elderly and disabled in Israel.


(Clockwise from left) Ambassador Calonge addresses the audience during the opening ceremony of the Philippine Fair; Mrs. Aviva Dankner and Ambassador Calonge open the photo exhibit "Yesterday and Today: A Look at Philippines-Israel Relations Through the Years;" Photographs depicting Philippine-Israel friendship; Audience at the Philippine Fair; VisMin dancers performing "Bulaklakan."

Mr. Carmel Hacohen, Consul General ad honorem of the Philippines for Haifa, thanked Ambassador Generoso Calonge and the Philippine Embassy for once again bringing the Philippine Fair to Haifa. He informed the audience that this was the fifth Philippine Fair to be held at Castra Center, a testament to the Philippines' history of good relations with the Municipality of Haifa.

Ambassador Calonge thanked the Municipality of Haifa, Castra Center, and Western Union for once again giving the Philippine Embassy the venue to present the Philippines' rich and diverse cultural history. He noted the Philippine Embassy's special relationship with Haifa, particularly the Embassy's long history of holding the Philippine Fair in the city, the latter's sister city agreement with Manila, and the recently inaugurated Kikar HaFilipinim, a marker commemorating the Philippines' assistance to the Jews during the Holocaust.

"We invite you to experience the Philippines tonight as we share with you our history through our music and dances, and through our food," Ambassador Calonge said. "What you will see will only be a small glimpse of our 7,107 islands, 120 languages, and 94 million people, but we hope that this Fair will serve as the gateway for you to learn more about our country and see more of what it can offer."

The audience was treated to Filipino delicacies such as halo-halo, puto, kakanin, empanada, caldereta and lumpia, while Makati Cabalen, a long-time retailer of Filipino food products in Israel, sold popular Filipino snacks brought straight from the Philippines.

The highlight of the Fair, however, was the cultural program. Over the two-day Fair, promising young singers Kathleen Eligado, Ezra Ng and Kathleen Sabo wowed the audience with their renditions of "Isang Lahi," "Ako ay Pilipino," "Isang Awit," and other English and Hebrew songs. Mr. Johnny Ramos of the Batangas Raging Colligation (BARACO) sang a moving rendition of "Sana'y Wala ng Wakas," while children from Pinay Namaste Kids Club garnered praises for their complex modern dance number.


(Clockwise from left) UNDOF Philippine Battalion soldiers during their Fan Dance; Mr. David Herman sings 'Thank You, Filipinos;" A Philippine Battalion soldier demonstrates Pekiti Tercia Kali; FFCI dancers performing "Sayaw sa Banga;" A dancer during the Cordillera War Dance.

The audience was also mesmerized by performances of "Sayaw sa Banga" (by the Federation of Filipino Communities in Israel/ FFCI), "Leron, Leron, Sinta," (by Kapatiran ng Manggagawang Pilipino sa Israel/KAMPI), "Kuratsa," and "Bulaklakan" (by Visayas-Mindanao Organization/ VISMIN).

Worth mentioning as well was the participation of the 6th Philippine Contingent to the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights. The Filipino peacekeepers performed a Cordillera War Dance, the Muslim Fan Dance, and a demonstration of Pekiti Tercia Kali, much to the delight of the audience.

Israeli friends of the Philippine Embassy also contributed to the program. Mr. David Herman performed "Thank You, Filipinos," a song he composed praising the work of Filipino caregivers in Israel, while Mr. Guy Kaplan, a native of Haifa, held adults and children alike spellbound with his juggling act "Inner Silence."

Lightning Scientific Arnis Israel, a local arnis school founded by Master Jon Escudero, also demonstrated various techniques of the Filipino martial art. At one point, the audience worried that the stage would collapse due to the intensity of the sparring.


(Clockwise from left) Philippine Fair performers during curtain call; Kathleen Eligado singing "Beautiful;" Philippine Overseas Labor Office staff model their Filipiniana; Booths during the Fair; Philippine Embassy staff dancing "Kappa Malong Malong;" and Ezra Ng singing "Isang Lahi."

Not to be left behind, Philippine Embassy staff danced the "Pandango sa Ilaw" and "Kappa Malong Malong," while their children performed a modern dance. The program was capped with a parade of Filipiniana, also by Philippine Embassy staff, displaying numerous iterations of the national dress in different colors and fabrics.

The Philippine Fair once again placed the spotlight on Philippines-Israel friendship and the rich tapestry of Filipino culture. In line with the Embassy's goal of promoting Philippine culture and people-to-people contacts, the audience left the Fair dazzled by the colors, music, dance and folklore of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. --END--