Manila celebrates Panamanian National Day


Becky Garcia

November is the Independence Month of Panama. It is unarguably the country’s most important month what with four important events being celebrated: November 3 celebrates the country’s independence from Colombia; November 4 is Flag Day; November 10 celebrates the country’s “first cry” of independence from Spain; and November 28 is the anniversary of the country’s full independence from Spain.

This year’s celebration of Independence Month was even made more special, as 2017 also marks the centenary of the Panamanian Ship Registry, the largest in the world. The country celebrated this event this October in equal fervor and festivity, playing host to representatives of the maritime sector and the International Organization.

Here in Manila, it was no different. Panamanian Ambassador to the Philippines, Rolando Guevara Alvarado, led the celebration of both the Independence Month and the Ship Registry Centennial at the Luzon and Visayas Ballroom of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila in Pasay City.

Panama Ambassador Rolando Guevara Alvarado (center) with DFA Representative Andrelita Austria (right) and Cambodia Ambassador Tuot Panha

Over 500 guests filled the glitzy ballroom, ranging from members of the diplomatic and consular corps, government officials, Panamanian residents in the country, and of course, business leaders of the shipping and maritime companies.

Ambassador Guevara began his speech by congratulating the Philippine government in its successful hosting of the 2017 ASEAN Summit, as well as the Armed Forces of the Philippines for their valiant actions in restoring peace and order in Marawi City.

The Ambassador gave emphasis to the maritime sector as the strongest of the ties between Panama and the Philippines. He also recalled the memorandum of agreement between Marina Philippines and the Panama Maritime Authority (AMP) signed last July, as the latest development in the maritime relations of the two countries.

“The shipping industry has become by far the strongest area in which both countries have focused their mutual efforts—providing the world shipping community the best service possible in terms of vessel registration under Panama flag and the development of the well-known Filipino seafarers,” the ambassador noted.

Ambassador Guevara gave much praise to the Filipino seafarers, thanking them for their contribution to the world economy. Taking advantage of the occasion, the Ambassador announced of the AMP’s opening of a Segumar Office in Manila, and that since the Consulate General now directly prints the seaman’s books, they no longer need to go the other Panamanian consulates in Asia for their documentation processing.

“Dito na kayó sa Maynilà!” he exhorted them in Tagalog.

For the night’s entertainment, the guests were treated to a vividly spectacular presentation of folk and Latino dances from Escola de Samba de Manila and the Te Maeva gigantes performers. Then the singing group, The Muses, with their renditions of Broadway musical numbers, serenaded the guests.

To cap off the night in a truly Latino fashion, everyone danced to the beat of Latino tunes —Historia de un Amor, La Bamba, Guantanamera—including the hit Despacito (which was actually co-written by a Panamanian, Erika Ender) played by the band Sabor Latino.

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