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The fiesta spirit is alive at the PH embassy in the Netherlands  

The fiesta spirit is alive at the PH embassy in the Netherlands  


The vibrant Filipino community in the Netherlands joined the Philippine embassy in The Hague in celebrating 125 years of Independence.

Who does not love fiesta? Every Filipino who grew up in the Philippines would agree that fiesta, that one day of joyful celebration in honor of a religious figure, is a strong part of growing up Pinoy. While Filipino expats living in dominantly Catholic countries like Spain, Portugal and Italy are also used to celebrating fiestas in their adopted countries, nobody beats the Pinoy version, which means lots of music, dancing, and of course food.

Aptly dubbed Fiesta, the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands, led by Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya and the hardworking embassy staff, together with Philippine Department of Tourism (Frankfurt), Philippine Department of Agriculture (Brussels), and the Philippine Trade and Industry (Brussels) organized a community reception for Filipinos in the Netherlands in celebration of the 125th year of Philippine Independence. The event was attended by members of the Filipino community, from Rotterdam to Groningen.

Filipino generosity in the Netherlands

The embassy parking lot, which was recently converted into a garden, became the venue for the event. And like a true fiesta, prominent Filipino organizations, businesses and individuals donated a generous amount of food (including a whole mouth-watering lechon) and beverages for the event. Among them are Manila Trading and Aling Alyssa Food Products, Nida Philippine Products, Baryo Pilipinas, Nordrick Asian Grill Salads Filipino Restaurant, Hazel’s Cusina, Guapito Premium Beer, Toko 4 All, Kabayan Dreamfloat, and Filipino-Dutch community organizations United Filipino Dutch Association and Jesus Is Lord.

Ambassador J. Eduardo (in blue) with Loui Galicia,  Geertruida Schoorlemmer, Liza Moncada, Elma Balmaceda, Ronaldo Gavino, Terry Gavino and Rommel Loveranes.
Ambassador J. Eduardo (in blue) with Loui Galicia, Geertruida Schoorlemmer, Liza Moncada, Elma Balmaceda, Ronaldo Gavino, Terry Gavino and Rommel Loveranes.

Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands Kalayaan 2023.
Members of the Filipino community and Dutch guests enjoy a sunny afternoon of delicious food and merriment at the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands.

Prizes were also given away courtesy of Baryo Pilipinas, Kabayan Dream Float, JMR Trading, Nida Philippine Products BV and Nordrick Asian Grill & Salads Filipino Restaurant, and Toko Pilipinas. 

Afternoon of OPM music

The afternoon was also filled with OPM music performed by local Filipino artists including Ann Antonio who sang “Bakit ba Ganyan” (popularized by Dina Bonnevie) and “Kailan” (Smokey Mountain), Anabelle A. Ausa who sang “Isang Lahi” (Regine Velasquez) and “Hawak Kamay” (Yeng Constantino), and Cristina Barabat who sang different melodies including Kung Maibabalik Ko Land, among others. Guests could not help but sing along, adding nostalgia of the familiar and sorely-missed Filipino gatherings at home.

Ann Antonio serenades the guests with popular OPM songs.

Filipinos dancing at the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands.
When there is music, there is dancing.

Ambassador Malaya reiterated his call for the Filipino community, living in the Netherlands and beyond, to remain united and live the Filipino spirit of community and camaraderie. 

Diplomatic reception at PH Embassy

Meanwhile, the diplomatic reception of the Philippine Independence Day was also well attended. Among the distinguished guests were Dutch officials and diplomats including Dominique Kuhling and Max Valstar from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Christophe Bernasconi, Secretary General of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, and Dr. Marcin Czepelak, Secretary of the Permanent Court of Arbitration  Administrative Council. Dr. Rena Cristina Koya-Malaya, Ambassador Malaya’s spouse, who is currently in the Netherlands for a short holiday, also graced both events. 

Ambassador J. Eduardo Malaya gives a speech in front of Filipino and Dutch guests at the diplomatic reception.

Independece Day celebration at the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands.
From left to right: Max Valstar, Dr. Marcin Czepelak, Ambassador Malaya, Dr. Rena Cristina Koya-Malaya, Dominique Kuhling and Dr. Christophe Bernasconi cut the Independence Day cake.

Filipino cellist Mikko Pablo and guitarist Ana Santisteban at the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands.
Filipino cellist Mikko Pablo and guitarist Ana Santisteban perform for the diplomatic community.

Delegates from the Permanent Court of Arbitration were also well present, as well as members of the diplomatic corps from different countries, and the Dutch and Philippine business communities. 

In his speech, Ambassador Malaya highlighted the rich history of the Philippines and its struggle to break free from Spanish colonization and becoming Asia’s first republic. He also paid tribute to Philippine National Hero Jose Rizal, whose bust will be prominently displayed in the embassy garden. 

Sumptuous Filipino spread

Filipino duo chef Rolando (Chef Lau) and Jacquieline (Chef Jac) Laudico treated the guests to a sumptuous spread of traditional Filipino products prepared with a modern twist: Chef Lau’s kinilaw (Filipino ceviche) with crispy radish and suman panna cotta and Chef Jac’s specialty as a patisserie. Both chefs are currently on a food diplomacy tour to promote Philippine cuisine in Europe. 

It was impressive to see how the Philippine Embassy in the Netherlands have had consistently and tirelessly held numerous events since the big renovation. It has engaged the Filipino community in different collaborations and opened its doors and halls, not just for consular affairs, but to continuously promote Filipino business, culture, cuisine, and tradition, a venue that welcomes us like home.

Special thanks to PH Embassy official photographer Kieren Roevi Batiles for the photos provided for this article.
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