• UK Embassy highlights what is truly ‘Great’ in Britain

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    (From left) Janine Taylor, food and beverage director at Hotel Intercontinental Manila; Alex Willats, general manager at Dusit Thani Hotel; British Ambassador Asif Ahmad; Derek Quelch, visiting chef Isabel Cang, PR and marketing communications assistant manager, Mandarin Oriental Manila

    (From left) Janine Taylor, food and beverage director at Hotel Intercontinental Manila; Alex Willats, general manager at Dusit Thani Hotel; British Ambassador Asif Ahmad; Derek Quelch, visiting chef Isabel Cang, PR and marketing communications assistant manager, Mandarin Oriental Manila

    The British Embassy in the Philippines has kicked off its long awaited “This is Great Britain” campaign for 2014 with the British Food Month’s launch on January 15. A city-wide promotion in different hotels around Metro Manila, the first taste of authentic British flavors took place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Makati City, which will go on until February 9.

    No less than the well-loved British Ambassador to the Philippines Asif Ahmad invited Filipinos to partake of his homeland’s cuisine, and talking business at the opening said, “Food and drink is a key sector for the UK and one of our growing exports to the world. It is not only for one’s enjoyment, but also an income source throughout the world.”

    He added that British food is best known for freshness, sustainability and excellent quality. “And it’s not only traditional dishes that have been passed on from chefs, great cooks, from farms and homes in the UK, but [dishes that are]also based from science, research and innovation.”

    Following the food month, another exciting event in the campaign is slated from February 12 to March 9—the British Fashion Month. Here, the embassy will collaborate with SM SuperMalls to exhibit British fashion through a roving display, while re-introducing familiar labels like Topshop, Dorothy Perkins, Dunhill, and Burberry—to name a few—as proud British brands to the Philippine market.

    Ambassador Ahmad acknowledged that English clothes are on top of the list Filipinos like about Britain. “If you speak to most Filipinos, they actually like a lot of things about the UK, but are not mentally aware of it. Most of it is UK clothing, and like Topshop, but they probably do not know if it is British or not,” he told The Manila Times.

    A ‘Great’ festival
    “This is Great Britain” is a worldwide campaign that was launched in the Philippines in October 2013 in time for the Philippine-UK Friendship Day. It is organized by the British Embassy together with the British Alumni Association, the British Council, the British Chamber of Commerce Philippines, the UK Trade and Investment, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

    Known simply as the ‘Great’ campaign, the five-month long festival aims to present the best of the UK to Filipinos—including world-class companies engaged in trade and investment in the country—as well as their diverse culture and creativity in art, film, food and fashion.

    “As we began our ‘This is Great Britain’ campaign last October, we had the opportunity to celebrate the best of our business and culture. We want to show Britain to Filipinos and what we are good at: creativity, entrepreneurship, education, and now, food. This is the ‘ultimate’ of what we can offer to the Philippines, which is probably undiscovered territory to most Filipinos,” expressed Ambassador Ahmad.

    Kicking off the campaign in 2013 was a two-week extravaganza that included the first live screening of Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the SM Aura Premier Cinema, straight from the National Theatre in London; as well as a concert featuring the renowned British boys’ choir, Libera at the PICC Plenary Hall in Manila. Libera later toured to Cebu City and performed at the chapel of San Pedro Calungsod to commemorate the Visayan martyr’s first year of canonization.

    Following these were successful exhibits from British photographer Justin James and famed English motor company Austin Mini were; as well as the British Book Festival in National Book Store outlets.

    As the “Great” campaign continues this year, the UK government’s aim is to invite Filipinos to “visit, study and do business with the UK.”

    “If you look at our culture, you will see that our nation is one that speaks to the world,” the ambassador concluded.

    This is Great Britain will culminate on March 7 to 9 at the Bonifacio High Street in Taguig City with an exhibit incorporating British businesses, culture, fashion and arts. The highlights of the five-month campaign and the participation of some 30 UK companies will take part in this grand finale.

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