A country’s arts and culture is one of the defining aspects of its people. One can trace its history through the traditional dances and songs and how the country views the rest of the world through pop music and its artists.
As such, cultural showcases have become a staple in any diplomatic mission. Taiwan’s Youth ambassadors were able to partake of this in the recent Taiwan Night held at the University of Santo Tomas (UST).
During the Taiwan night, UST students held a series of performances that showcased Filipino culture. The night started with the UST Symphony Orchestra performing 3 numbers that paid tribute to classical kundimans and folk songs, ending with a stirring rendition of Mutya ng Pasig.
This was followed by the University of Santo Tomas Singers, a choir group composed of students and alumni. In contrast to the old songs played by the UST orchestra, the vocal group sang several modern original Filipino songs which included Basil Valdez’s Tuwing Umuulan at Kapiling Ka.
Completing the presentation from the Philippine side was the UST Salinggawi Dance Troupe performing traditional Filipino dances such as the Tinikling and Pandanggo sa Ilaw to name a few.
The Taiwan youth delegates answered in kind, weaving together a show that included traditional festivals, advances in science and technology, and modern living in Taiwan. In between every musical or dance number, a short game show-like segment would be held wherein the participants would share tidbits and trivia about Taiwan.
The event was the culminating activity of this year’s Taipei International Youth Ambassadors Exchange Program in Manila. Under the program, students from Taiwan go to different countries all over the world in order to immerse themselves in the culture of their host country while representing their own. Launched in 2009 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the program seeks to enhance local youths’ international perspective and encourages them to explore the world and cultivate relationships.
“I hope that the visit of our youth ambassadors from Taiwan would help them understand the Philippines more since the Philippines is our closest neighbor. People to people connectivity is one of the core values of our New Southbound Policy which was launched in 2016 and that’s why our youth ambassadors have been coming to the Philippines ever since, making this their third year,” Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines Representative Ambassador Michael Peiyung Hsu said.
Filipina-Taiwanese Elvira Wang said that this trip has further solidified her desire to work in the diplomatic corps. “I want to work here. Many Taiwanese want to know Southeast Asian culture like in the Philippines and Thailand. So I think we need to deepen the bilateral relations,” she shared. While she visits the Philippines regularly, it was for a vacation with family. Going to the Philippines as a youth ambassador allowed her to see the country from a different perspective.
For Peter Chiu, it was also a homecoming of sorts. “I came to the Philippines when I was 2 years old and then I went to high school in Thailand. In the youth ambassador program, we have opportunities to go to both of these countries and I really wanted to visit the places where I grew up in,” he said.