DAVAO CITY, Philippines – It was a night of Filipino culture and pride at the SMX Convention Center on Friday, July 15, as the city welcomed the 193 delegates of the 11th Ambassadors’ Tour.
In his speech, President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged the contribution of the participants in the advancement of Filipino-American communities and expressed gratitude for supporting the event.
“You are proud bearers of the Philippine flag in your respective jurisdictions, along with around 3.4 million Filipinos who constitute the fastest-growing immigrant communities in the United States,” Duterte said.
Duterted added that he hopes the 193 Fil-Am participants from North America would enjoy their visits on the different tourist spots in Manila and Davao and urged them to help the government in promoting the country.
“You shall bring with you the message to the rest of the world that the Philippines has made significant strides in developing its trade, investments, tourism and cultural sectors and in making our country a safer and a more secure place to live,” Duterte said.
“May you continue to help our government in promoting the Philippines as an ideal location for business to thrive, and as a great destination for tourists to experience. Together, let us make it a nation that we can be proud to call our own,” he added.
Along with Duterte, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary, Alan Peter Cayetano and Department of Tourism-Tourism Advocacy and Public Affairs Undersecretary, Kat de Castro were there to grace the event.
After Duterte’s speech, the delegates were off to a feast in a dinner buffet where famous Filipino food such as “lechon” (roasted pork) and “balot” (fertilized duck egg) were served to them.
Apart from the food, the Filipino culture was also proudly shared and presented to the participants in the stage during the tapestry fashion and musical show.
The five-day tour from July 11 to 16, headed by the DFA in cooperation with the Department of Tourism (DOT) through the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB), aims to entice Filipino-Americans to deepen their appreciation and beauty of the country and expose them to the rich culture and heritage of the Philippines.
They are to become “Filipino ambassadors” in their own right, and be an instrument to promote the country to the tourists when they go back to the US.
Based on a record from the DOT -Tourism Development Planning (TDP), the United States of America is second among the countries with highest visitors arriving in the Philippines having a total of 99,435 in January 2017.
US also ranked second among the top spending markets for travel and tourism in January this year with a total visitor spending of about P3.69 billion.
Mei Frias, a Fil-Am, delegate from Houston, Texas, and was formerly from Manila, said in an interview that supposedly more participants were to attend the event but because of what happened (in Mindanao), many were afraid.
“The objective is to open the door of tourism so that Filipinos outside the country will come back and right now there is really a growing interests among Filipinos outside to come home. Our job now is to tell them that there is nothing to be afraid of and the Philippines is beautiful and continues to thrive. All they need to do is come and see,” Frias said.
Frias shared they went to the different spots in Davao, treated to different cultural shows and visited the different industries the city has.
“Everything is safe. I enjoyed my stay here,” Frias said.(davaotoday.com)