DAMASCUS, SYRIA – Echoes of clashing bamboo Arnis sticks and joyful cheering of Filipino Community volleyball players resonated throughout the Up Town Sports Complex during the Migrant Workers’ Day celebration lead by the Philippine Embassy in Damascus, Syria on 05 June 2022. 

In her Welcome Remarks, CDA Vida Soraya Verzosa briefly shared the history of Migrant Workers’ Day and how laws related to protecting the rights of Migrant Workers made this a part of Philippine foreign policy pillars. She also highlighted the importance of teamwork, camaraderie and unity in achieving common goals, then she officially opened the sportsfest with a ceremonial volleyball serve. Participants recited the oath of sportsmanship lead by Finance Officer Jekelyn Arago-Esguerra before the tournament started. 

After the volleyball tournament, Arnis expert Tuhon Bobby Ladra from the Filipino Kali Academy, a US-based training school that offers Martial Arts programs, taught basic Arnis techniques during the Filipino Martial Arts (Arnis) workshop. Despite the time difference, Coach Bobby successfully imparted lessons to the Filipinos and Second Generation Filipino Syrian children who gamely sparred and maneuvered. Selected participants will showcase their Arnis skills during the 124th Philippine Independence Day Celebration on 12 June 2022 at the Dama Rose Hotel in Syria. 

Promoting cultural diplomacy through graphic design, the award-winning Filipino graphic design studio, Team Manila, collaborated with the Embassy for the design of the T-shirts that were used as the uniform of the Migrant Workers in the event. “Team Manila x Damascus PE” envisioned a unique T-shirt design that reflects the richness of Filipino fiesta culture and patterns created by indigenous people from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. 

The Migrant Workers’ Day sportsfest equipped them with self-defense skills and strengthened the bond of sportsmanship among the Filipino Community members. The winning volleyball team won an exhibition game against the Embassy personnel. After all matches concluded, the other Filipino Community members joined Embassy personnel in a fun basketball game. During the awarding ceremony, winning teams and volunteers received medals and certificates. The Embassy also held a virtual awarding ceremony for Coach Bobby in this hybrid event, with both virtual and face to-face participants.

Fueling the sportsfest participants with delicious Filipino food to boost energy levels, the Embassy served beef brisket from the Filipino chef and “Daingsilog” (Dried Daing fish brought by CDA Verzosa from Zamboanga, with sunny-side up eggs and garlic rice). They also enjoyed “Ube Gulaman” (Purple Yam Gelatine) for dessert, together with potluck food contributions from both Filipino Community organizations. Around sixty (60) Filipinos and Filipino-Syrian children joined the fun. A member of the Filipino community thanked the Embassy for organizing the event saying, “ako’y nagpapasalamat at nagagalak binibigyang pansin ninyo ang aming mga kahilingan, sa palarong idinaos na volleyball, excellent, maraming nasiyahan, enjoy lahat, at busog sa pagkain ang mga filipino community. Sa mga taga-embassy staff, at lalo na kay CDA Vida Verzosa, lubos kaming nagpapasalamat sa lahat ng kasiyahan at kahilingan ng mga bawat Filipino community dito sa Syria. Maraming salamat Philippine Embassy. (I am so thankful and happy that you granted our request to have the sportsfest, it is excellent and many were happy, everyone enjoyed, we in the Filipino community felt full from all the food. To all the Embassy staff, especially CDA Vida Verzosa, we send our utmost thanks for all the happiness for granting the request of every Filipino community member here in Syria. Thank you, Philippine Embassy.)” 

Administrative Officer Christian Glenn Baggas delivered his closing remarks, expressing gratitude to the FilCom for their usual cooperation in all the Embassy activities, to formally conclude. 

Post continues to conduct activities that promote wellness of Filipino Community members and raise awareness, especially on this special occasion. - END