Philippines' Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion is due to be completed and handed over by next month.
On Saturday, Hjayceelyn Quintana, Philippine Ambassador to the UAE, visited the Dubai South site and said she was "immeasurably proud" to see the pavilion, named Bangkota, take shape.
She said Bangkota was a "truly world-class, sustainable structural showcase that is set to enthral Expo visitors, as well as make the Filipinos proud."
Named the ancient Tagalog word for coral reef, Bangkota aims to evoke the underwater ecosystem as a metaphor for the Filipino peoples' extreme interconnectedness and ability to build vibrant communities everywhere in the world.
The pavilion seeks to tell a historical story of how the Philippines' Austronesian ancestors spread throughout islands in Southeast Asia and then embarked across the Pacific, while still being connected by the oceans of the world. This connectedness remains, among the massive, global Filipino diaspora, through technology.
Spanning almost 3,200 square metres, the structure was designed by Budji+Royal Architecture+Design and curated by Marian Pastor Roces, who chose artists that could best convey Philippine culture to the world.
The design incorporates nature through a wire mesh that curves around artificial coral atolls, filtering sunlight on to porous concrete clusters that represent the reefs. Videos will be projected on to the building, bringing the seabed to life.
The Philippines is the world’s third most coral-rich area after Indonesia and Australia. The country boasts some of the world’s top diving sites and the Tubbataha Reef Natural Park is a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Visitors to the pavilion should feel as though they are walking into a vibrant underwater world and realise the importance of conserving these ecosystems.
With global warming and pollution threatening reefs worldwide, conservationists in the Philippines are working to spread awareness among fishermen about abandoned plastic nets wrecking havoc on sea life. Educational sessions are organised in local communities, schools and colleges. This message will be reiterated in the pavilion.
The structure is located in the expo’s sustainability section and planners have focused on innovative architecture.
Building material was sourced from the UAE, in line with the country’s aim to produce a truly sustainable pavilion.
Trees and plants, such as the flame or fire tree that grow in the UAE and the Philippines. will be planted near artificial coral lagoons.
The Delonix regia sprouts fiery red, orange and yellow flowers in the UAE and also announces the arrival of the monsoon in the Philippines.
Expo 2020 Dubai is due to open in October, after having been postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Once the World Fair ends in April 2022, organisers will rebuild the structure in New Clark City, a green, high tech metropolis being built 100km north of Manila.