DOHA: The Filipino community in Qatar yesterday joined hands to celebrate the 116th anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence with a flag hoisting ceremony at the Philippine Embassy.
During the ceremony Labour Attaché Leopoldo B De Jesus, Vice Consul Kristine F Bautista and Ambassador Crescente R Relacion read the messages of Department of Labour and Employment Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz, Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F Del Rosario and President Benigno S Aquino III, respectively. This year’s theme is “Pagsunod sa yapak ng mga dakilang Pilipino, tungo sa malawakan at permanenteng pagbabago” (Following the footsteps of great Filipinos, towards inclusive and permanent change).
Philippine Embassy officials and staff, Filipino community leaders and faculty and staff of the three Philippine schools in Qatar attended the ceremony which was followed by a community breakfast. Speaking to the media after the event, Ambassador Relacion expressed gratitude to Filipinos in Qatar for their support to the Philippine Mission and his intention to leave a legacy as he wraps up his term at the end of the year.
“This is my last Independence Day celebration in Qatar and I would like to thank the Filipino people in Qatar for the support you have given to the Philippine Embassy and to the Filipino community for all the undertakings and endeavors. To all the leaders of more than 140 Filipino community organisations in Qatar, thank you so much for your support,” he said.
The Ambassador, who has served the Filipino community here in the last five years, is known for his efforts to unite Filipino organizations here which culminated in the founding of the United Filipino Organisations in Qatar (UFOQ) last year. He said he was hopeful that the UFOQ would continue even as he ends his term and leaves Qatar for good.
“We are hopeful that this (UFOQ) would continue as I end my term in Qatar, that Filipinos in this part of the world will be united as one people because this is the dream of our forefathers. This is also the dream of our President Benigno S Aquino III and also my own dream and aspiration that one day not only in Qatar but also in all parts of the world and the Philippines that Filipinos will be one and will pursue one dream, one goal and vision.”
The Ambassador revealed plans to submit his recommendations to further improve expatriate organisations in Qatar. “I’m thinking of making a white paper to be submitted to the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs to further cement this legacy that I’m leaving behind because in Qatar we have full support from the Qatar government but we also know for a fact that there are some measures that have to be taken in order for the expatriate community to stay together and enjoy their stay here.”
Among the proposals he mentioned was the allotment of a venue where expatriate communities could gather and celebrate National Day and other important events. Another is for other countries to establish umbrella organisations like the UFOQ for their own communities and have them recognised by Qatar as a legal personality and entity.
“These are some initiatives that I want to pursue and accomplish before I leave Qatar,” he ended.
The celebration continues today with a grand event to be held at the Al Wakrah Sports Club which will kick off with the release of 116 balloons. The whole day event will feature Filipino dances, a concert of Doha-based Filipino rock bands, the annual ‘Kantahan sa Doha’ singing competition grand finals, cultural presentations, and trade fair and food festival.