“The strong and enduring bilateral ties between the Philippines and the Kingdom have a mutual benefit for both parties. On our part, the Kingdom has been providing employment for a million of our countrymen.”
— NCMF Secretary/CEO Guiling “Gene” A. Mamondiong
By EDD K. USMAN Twitter: @edd1819 Instagram: @bluestar0910 Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current Affairs
MANILA (SDN) — The “traditional vibrant diplomatic night” is back!
And it’s thanks to the Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) headed by Ambassador Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani who led the celebration of his country’s 92nd National Day in the Philippines.
Joining the top Saudi diplomat in the country in welcoming guests and friends on Friday, September 23, 2022, at the Grand Hyatt Manila, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila, are other embassy officials in their traditional Saudi and Arab garbs.
Over in Saudi Arabia, the celebration is a week-long event featuring but not limited to “folklore dances, festivals, and other cultural activities throughout the Kingdom” with all the country’s regions joining in the observance. For t2022 the celebration of the National Day, or “Al-Yaom-ul-Watany” in Arabic, has a distinct identity from previous years, a slogan revolving around “This is Our Home”, that embraces “the past and the future of Saudi Arabia.”
Recall that the annual National Day celebration by embassies in the Philippines had stopped for almost three years because of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in December 2019. Every embassy suspended their respective observance as the risks of transmission and spread of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) was very high; thus, a health protocol, consisting of washing of hands, social distancing, wearing of masks and face shields was implemented by governments across the world.
No in-person celebration was allowed, whether a National Day, or other affairs. Things are looking good somewhat, a gradual return to the “normal” course of things is slowly coming back. Thankfully, including the much-awaited embassy nights.
One of the many dignitaries invited to the celebration, National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) Secretary/CEO Guiling “Gene” A. Mamondiong congratulated the Kingdom on its 92nd year milestone.
“We are happy to see the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia celebrated a milestone and welcomed its celebration in the Philippines so that Filipinos can savor the happiness and excitement that come with it,” said Mamondiong.
“The strong and enduring bilateral ties between the Philippines and the Kingdom have a mutual benefit for both parties. On our part, the Kingdom has been providing employment for a million of our countrymen. Their billions of dollars of remittance have been helping prop up the economy of the country, and also their lifeline for their families,” Mamondiong said.
With a million OFWs in Saudi Arabia, the Filipino migrant workers also have millions of relatives relying on the fruits of their employment back home, said Mamondiong.
Filipino diplomat Datu Omar “Mark” Pangarungan, also one of the dignitaries invited to the Saudi National Day celebration, welcomed with open arms the return of the embassy nights and how they were missed.
“Friends and colleagues from the government and private sectors truly missed the traditional diplomatic nights which were suspended for almost three years due to the pandemic! Thanks to KSA Embassy, last night’s vibrant celebration paved the way to bring people together again!”, he enthusiastically blurted out.
“Diplomatic Nights not only strengthen relations between friendly countries but bring people closer together. Last night’s Saudi Embassy celebration of her 92nd National Day brought people together and reactivated people’s lost connection due to pandemic.”
He described the Saudi celebration as an “evening of excitement, food, drinks, and exchanges of pleasantries after years of absence due to pandemic!”
When he was with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Pangarungan was assigned in different members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the members of which are Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman.
In his diplomatic posts he attended and responded to hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in distress who need immediate and urgent assistance from the government. Pangarungan negotiated for and secured the safety of many OFWs.
Datu Omar Pangarungan is one of the organizers and top officers of the BBM Tigers that strongly worked for and supported the presidential candidacy of now President Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.
More photographs from the celebration:
With the lead that Saudi Arabia provided with the National Day celebration, Datu Omar Pangarungan expects other embassies to follow suit. (✓)