Thousands of Filipinos gathered at Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday to celebrate their 'national day' at the global event with musical performances and cultural shows staged across the site.
Groups of proud Filipinos waved their national flag with coloured bands of blue, red and white as they stood outside the country’s pavilion.
Others danced in groups, matching the tempo and beat of popular music played by live bands that walked around the vast world's fair.
The Philippines pavilion is inspired by the coral reef or Bangkota with black mesh screens that shade the interior areas filled with food zones, performance venues and exhibition spaces.
Hjayceelyn Quintana, the Philippines' ambassador to the UAE, said it was a significant day for Filipinos in the country.
She said the two nations were also celebrating 48 years of excellent bilateral relations and a unique bond between their people.
“From the first wave of Filipino professionals and workers that helped build the foundations of the UAE’s cities, economy and society, I now see Filipinos succeed and thrive in their respective fields of endeavour here in the UAE,” she said.
Ms Quintana said Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, had granted high honours to Filipino medical frontline workers who served in the fight against coronavirus in the UAE.
She spoke of personal calls from Sheikh Mohamed to check on their condition during which he assured them of his support.
Ms Quintana praised the Filipino community for its skill, professionalism and welcoming nature.
“The Expo has given us a platform to showcase this, through the Bangkota, encouraging the world to see Filipinos in a new light, how our geography and history shaped our resilience, resourcefulness and positive attitude, from our ancient seafaring forefathers, to the modern, talented Filipino professionals seen everywhere in the UAE and around the world,” she said.
Groups gathered outside the pavilion to watch the flag ceremony in the afternoon and joined in to sing the national anthem with their hand placed on their heart.
Dancers in sparkling red and gold costumes waved the Expo ring symbol as they took to the streets of the world’s fair during a lively parade.
Filipinos on the sidelines shouted greetings of "Mabuhay", a Tagalog word that means "Long Live", to visitors taking photographs.
The Philippines pavilion drew in the crowds after announcing a day-long food fiesta featuring favourite dishes such as bibingka, a sticky rice cake and adobo, a tangy chicken meal marinated in soy sauce.
Presentations to promote the more than 7,000 islands that comprise the Philippines were part of the celebrations with a visual show to be beamed across the Al Wasl dome and music performances at Jubilee Park in the evening.
Business leaders from the community also met to explore opportunities of collaboration and investment with the Emirates.
The Philippines Department of Trade and Industry said the aim was to grow ties in agriculture, infrastructure and the energy sector to increase investment and encourage employment.