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August 18, 2011

Cebu City is ASEAN City of Culture for July 2011

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts declare Cebu City as an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) City of Culture in lavish ceremonies on July 15, 2011.

Present during the events were DFA Office of ASEAN Affairs Executive Director Olivia Palala and Director Edsel Barba, the Ambassadors of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam to the Philippines, representatives from ASEAN dialogue partners China and Japan and representatives from the Cebu government.

Among the dignitaries present were Senator Vicente Sotto III, Cebu Representative Rachelle Marguerite del Mar, National Commission of Culture and the Arts (NCCA) Chairperson Felipe de Leon and former ambassador Francisco Benedicto.

The ceremonies kicked off at the newly opened Radisson Blu Hotel, where dancers from various Cebu universities, dressed in traditional attires of ASEAN Member-States, entered the hotel's Sta. Maria Ballroom carrying the flags of the 10 ASEAN members, amidst the ecstatic beat of gongs and music.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Lopez Rama led the events, which consisted of a cultural extravaganza, sampling of Cebu's culinary art, furniture and fabric exhibit at the SM Cebu, an evening fashion show at the historic Rizal Library, and the heritage walk around Cebu City.

There was also a roundtable discussion between the city's artists and traders and the five ASEAN resident Ambassadors who attended the event, steered by NCCA Chairperson De Leon. The discussion concluded with the agreement that if ASEAN had to be a trademark of regional quality and efficiency, the ASEAN member-states should start focusing on complementing each other's expertise rather than competing with each other.

The highlight of the event was the unveiling of the "Cebu City as ASEAN City of Culture" marker at the Talamban Family Park, the same spot where the marker of the 12th ASEAN Summit was placed.

In her speech after the unveiling, Executive Director Palala noted the many reasons why Cebu qualified as an ASEAN City of Culture.

"From the historic Magellan's cross planted in the heart of the city, to the city's magnificent hotels, pristine beaches and diving spots, colorful religious and tourist festivals and vibrant industries-you name it, Cebu has it," she said.

The naming of Cebu City as an ASEAN City of Culture is line with the declaration of the Philippines as the ASEAN Culture Capital for 2010 to 2011, a project where a country is designated an ASEAN Culture Capital for two successive years. During this time, the chosen country will showcase its best cultural heritage.

To celebrate and implement the project, the Philippines has been implementing activities to showcase its rich cultural heritage.

One of these activities is the selection of several cities around the country to be given the title ASEAN City of Culture. These cities embody the uniqueness and richness of Philippine culture, as reflected in their glorious history and the creative craftsmanship of its people.

Cebu is the 10th and last Philippine city to be given the title ASEAN City of Culture, after Manila, Angono in Rizal, Tarlac City, Angeles in Pampanga, Batangas City, Roxas in Capiz, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Cagayan de Oro in Misamis Oriental and Dapitan in Zamboanga.
During the Sinulog Festival in January, it will have the honor to hand over the title of ASEAN Culture Capital to Singapore, the next ASEAN Member-State to be given the title.

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