City to host 2023 PHL – Australian friendship day

The Sydney Opera House’s iconic façade is a major attraction in Australia. (Joseph B.A. Marzan photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Iloilo City will host this year’s celebration of the ties between the Philippines and Australia to highlight the city’s significance in the historic relationship between the two countries.

In the official schedule released by the Australian Embassy in the Philippines on Monday, the office said that the holding of celebrations in the city was “to celebrate Australia’s deep historical ties with Western Visayas.”

Activities will kick off on May 19, with a forum and exhibit on “Creating Liveable and Resilient Cities” with the embassy’s Senior Trade and Investment Commissioner Christopher Lim and architect Paulo Alcazaren, who is credited as the brains behind the Iloilo River Esplanade.

The city will also host a Friendship Day Heritage Run from the Iloilo Freedom Grandstand, a tree-planting and unveiling of a donation of way finders and bike racks to the city government at Plaza Libertad, and a Manila Men exhibit and Friendship Day Reception at the National Museum Western Visayas on May 20.

The three-day celebration is a Friendship Day Festival to be held at SM City Iloilo on May 21.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Yu Hae-Kyeong is expected to grace the May 20 and 21 activities, as flanked by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas.

Treñas issued Executive Order No. 046 series of 2023, marking May 22, 2023 for the celebrations of the Philippines-Australia Friendship Day in the city.

The order recognized the deep historical ties of Australia with the Western Visayas region in terms of trade and people-to-people linkages, as well as Filipino alumni from Australian educational institutions.

The Australian Embassy has shown interest in Iloilo in the past few years with the country’s three previous ambassadors to the Philippines having visited, the last one being Yu’s immediate predecessor, Steven Robinson, in 2019.

Former Australian deputy head of mission, Richard Sisson, also visited in July last year, prior to the current ambassador’s assumption of duties as their nation’s chief envoy to the Philippines.

The Australian Government, through the Australian Embassy and its other agencies present in the country, has provided assistance to Western Visayas in the past, including teacher training and quality programs to 6 schools in the city and province of Iloilo and 8 in Guimaras, as well as some agricultural and fishing programs like seaweed harvesting, and sea cucumber production in Tigbauan town.

South Australian Senator Don Farrell, the country’s Minister for Trade and Tourism, visited Manila last April to work on deepening the Philippines’ and Australia’s ties in trade and investment.