The week that was: Diplomatic events are finally back

AMIGOS EN LA CULTURA National Museum Director Jeremy Barns (left) and Spanish Ambassador to the Philippines Jose Moragas formally open the exhibit titled The Longest Journey

With alert level one in place, diplomatic events have come back to (real) life. This, after having been relegated mostly to the online space for the last two years. There’s been a lot going on the past week as 2022 is proving to be a year that brings forth lots of things to celebrate.

Australian goodies in Filipino supermarket shelves

The Australian Embassy in the Philippines along with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) recently celebrated the increasing presence of Australian food brands in the Philippines. Ambassador Steven J. Robinson hosted a “Taste of Australia” lunch in his home to showcase products that are widely available in our local grocery stores and delis.

“Australia is delighted that its reputation for quality and safe products is recognized and trusted by Philippine businesses who are bringing in brands we Aussies love and that Filipinos can now enjoy,” he said during his remarks. Over food cooked by Bondi & Bourke’s Chef Wade Watson, the ambassador also showcased the quality of meat and dairy they export into the country.

FARE FROM DOWN UNDER Australia's Ambassador Steven J. Robinson shared some of his own favorites from the selection

The slow-cooked Roaring Forties lamb cutlets he served with minted chimichurri salsa was definitely a crowd favorite.

New to the market brands include high-protein breakfast cereal Weetbix and dairy products from Siigi’s and Binda Valley. Australian wines also remain to be a favorite among Filipinos with brands like Hardy’s, Deakin Estate, and Woomera doing really well in the market. Austrade ASEAN general manager Mukund Narayanamuti was in Manila for the first time to introduce the new brands. He admitted to being impressed with how Filipinos have grown to embrace Australian products.

The embassy’s senior trade commissioner, Christopher Lim, also highlighted the importance of strengthening their products’ online presence. “We launched to showcase available Australian brands and special offers to make it easier for Filipino shoppers to find quality and safe products,” he added.

AUSSIE STEAK Bondi and Bourke's Chef Wade Watson prepared a feast for the Australian Ambassador's media guests. In the photo is a prime-rib from Darling Downs

65th anniversary of Swiss-Filipino relations

Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen also had the media over for a gathering in his home. Over dinner, which included raclette, Swiss wine, and chocolates, the ambassador talked about the celebration of the 65th anniversary of diplomatic ties between our two countries. A special logo was made for the occasion featuring the Swiss and Philippine flags above curved, linked hands.

“I do like the logo,” Ambassador Gaschen told reporters. “It forms a smile and a handshake—it is very symbolic of our friendship.

SCHWYZERDÜTSCH Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen warmly welcomed media guests to his home

The ambassador touched on Switzerland’s policy of neutrality. “Switzerland still remains committed to neutrality despite adopting EU sanctions on Ukraine,” he said. “Neutrality is part of our fundamental identity and helps Switzerland mediate conflicts and further its humanitarian efforts.”

Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas, a special guest curator for the Philippine adaptation of the exhibit ‘The Longest Journey: The First Journey around the World,’ noted the similarities between the ‘Spice Race’ during Elcano’s journey and the ‘Space Race’ that went on from the late ’50s to the early ’70s.

This, he added, allows his country to play specific roles in the international community, but it also doesn’t stop them from having political opinions and protecting values they hold dear.

PRAISE CHEESES Swiss cheese is always a great idea

Something to look forward to this year is the embassy’s “65 Stories” campaign, which aims to highlight 65 unique individuals who have contributed to strengthening Swiss-Filipino ties. The embassy will be showcasing their stories and aspirations in the coming months.

Spain and PH commemorate the longest journey

The Philippine adaptation of the exhibit entitled “The Longest Journey: The First Journey around the World” opened this week at the National Museum. A diplomatic reception was held on March 23, a day before the exhibit officially opened to the public.

EXPOSICIÓN ESPAÑOLA The Longest Journey's opening was a well-attended event

National Museum director Jeremy Barns and Spanish Ambassador Jorge Moragas welcomed guests and discussed the significance of the original exhibition first shown in Seville in 2019. From there, multiple reiterations have been presented all over the world as part of the quincentennial commemoration of the journey. The Philippine adaptation showcases a number of special archaeological, ethnographic, and devotional art objects as well as natural history specimens of flora and fauna from the collections of the National Museum and the Intramuros Administration. This, according to the museum, was done to evoke “the sense of discovery and encounter” that was probably experienced by Magellan and his crew.

Ambassador Moragas, who is also a special guest curator for the exhibit, shared details of the famed journey, which also brought Magellan, Elcano, and Christianity to the Philippines. He also noted the similarities between the “Spice Race” during Elcano’s journey and the “Space Race” that went on from the late ’50s to the early ’70s.

CELEBRAR EL VIAJE From left: Apostolic Nuncio Charles Brown, National Museum director Jeremy Barns, Nationak Museum chair Luli Arroyo-Bernas, Spanish ambassador to the Philippines Jorge Moragas, National Museum benefactor Andrew Tan of Megaworld

The interactive and highly immersive exhibit also features high-quality facsimiles of archival documents that add so much detail to the journey of the 245 men aboard their five ships who set sail to see the world. Audio-visual presentations also share stories about the human aspect of the journey, adding interesting details about the crew.

The exhibit is also in celebration of the 75 years of diplomatic ties between the Philippines and Spain. It can be viewed on the fourth floor of the National Museum (Fine Arts Building).