KSA’s 92nd National Day Celebration Led by Ambassador Hisham Al-Qahtani Paves Way for Return of ‘Vibrant Diplomatic Nights’

Saudi Ambassador Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani. Behind him is an image of the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, King Abdul Aziz bin Al-Saud, established the Kingdom on September 23, 1932 (Photographs by SDN — Science and Digital News)

“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.

Welcoming guests at the 92nd National Day celebration at 5-star Grand Hyatt Manila, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Metro Manila. From the right are Ambassador Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani, Consul General Faisal Al-Qahtani, and Khalid Al-Arthi, another embassy official.

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.”

Cutting of the celebratory cake.

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.

Hameed Al-Shammari, head, Media Department, Royal Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the Philippines.

Read: Ambassador Hisham Al-Qahtani Leads Celebration of 92nd National Day of Saudi Arabia

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.

NCMF Secretary Guiling ‘Gene’ A. Mamondiong meets Saudi Ambassador Hisham bin Sultan Al-Qahtani. 

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.

Datu Omar Pangarungan with DFA protocol officer Jeff Talam (in Barong Tagalog), nieces from NCMF Junainah Daud Nuska (left) and Director of Economic Affairs Saleha Sacar (right). (Credit: Datu Omar Pangarungan)
The ever-dashing and debonaire gentleman Datu Omar Pangarungan (second, right), on his left, is Ms. Cherry Binale Medel, the secretary of the Saudi ambassador, and two kins. (Credit: Datu Omar Pangarungan)

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:

Philippine National Police (PNP) Colonel Pamela D. Balasabas, chief, Diplomatic Protection Division, PNP Police Security and Protection Group (PPSPG), and Hadja Rueda E. Usman, former chief of NCMF-Shari’ah Education and Training Division.
Some of the food served at the celebration.

Saudi Arabia Embassy staff Prof. Jo Kashim (left) and former Saudi Embassy translator Ustadhz Amer Nor (right). (Credit: Datu Omar Pangarungan)

With the lead that Saudi Arabia provided with the National Day celebration, Datu Omar Pangarungan expects other embassies to follow suit. (✓)

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