Polish ambassador touts culture, business as Iloilo City’s gems

Polish Ambassador Jarosław Roman Szczepankiewicz views some of the artworks displayed at Iloilo City Hall during his visit to Mayor Jerry Treñas on Oct 7, 2022. (Arnold Almacen/CMO photo)

By Joseph B.A. Marzan

Poland’s ambassador to the Philippines said on Saturday that Iloilo City’s cuisine, culture, and business were just some of the things that the Polish should look out for whenever they come here.

Ambassador Jarosław Roman Szczepankiewicz visited Iloilo on Friday for the first time since his designation to the country in 2018.

Szczepankiewicz graced the 25th CineEuropa reception at the Cinematheque Centre Iloilo, which was sponsored by the Polish Embassy.

Szczepankiewicz told Daily Guardian that he had always been looking forward to visiting Iloilo City, saying that he had “always had a good feeling about the city and its people.”

He cited two notable Poles with connections to Iloilo City – Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła), the Catholic Church’s first Polish pope and also the first to visit the city in 1981; and Arthur Rubenstein, the pianist who held a concert in the city prior to World War II.

Szczepankiewicz said his visit gave him the notion that it was still the same place when Rubenstein came more than 70 years ago, a city whose love for culture is its strong asset.

“My first question about [Rubenstein’s visit] was, why Iloilo? What was so special about this [city] that they paid P5,000? Then I learned that the reason was, [Panay Island] was an island of millionaires, a booming island and city because of textile and grains. The rich farmers from here were always competing with imperial Manila,” Szczepankiewicz narrated.

“I still think that culture plays a role [in Iloilo City]. It’s a strong asset for the city. It will bring the profits and people will enjoy the lifestyle. The cuisine is excellent, and I appreciate this more than what I can find in Manila,” he added.

The Polish ambassador said that the city’s culture and business are something that Poland should emulate.

“We want to bring to Iloilo’s culture and business. Pope John Paul II visited here before, so it’s an additional reason to visit here. If he visited some place, it means something important was there,” he said.

The 25th CineEuropa screenings at the Cinematheque Centre Iloilo in Iloilo City is still ongoing until this Thursday, October 13.