APEC leaders’ spouses walk through time in the heart of Manila

By Filane Mikee Z. Cervantes

MANILA, Nov 19 (PNA) — While the economic leaders converged for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ meeting on Thursday, their spouses were toured around the historic-walled city of Intramuros.

The spouses arriving at the heart of Manila were welcomed by Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez and President Benigno Aquino III’s sisters — Maria Elena “Ballsy” Cruz, Aurora Corazon “Pinky” Abellada, Victoria Elisa “Viel” Dee, and Kristina Bernadette “Kris” Aquino.

Since President Aquino is a bachelor, the responsibility of playing hosts to the APEC leaders’ spouses fell on the laps of the presidential sisters.

Among those in attendance were the spouses of the leaders from Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Chinese Taipei, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

“The program’s concept is a walk through time. So they will see living recreations of Philippine-Spanish culture,” said Nestor Jardin, the overall artistic director of the spouses’ program.

Aside from providing a historical tour, the presidential sisters wanted to display the trademark hospitality of Filipinos.

“We really want to make sure that everybody who visits the Philippines will go home with a positive impression of all Filipinos,” said the president’s youngest sister, Kris Aquino.

The first stop was in Fort Santiago where they witnessed a traditional wedding preparation and celebration, highlighting the cheerful and lively Filipino spirit.

About 200 performers from Ramon Obusan, Dulaang UP, Tanghalang Filipino, and University of the East dance group merged to showcase music and dances from the Spanish colonial era.

Afterwards, the spouses, together with the presidential sisters and other delegates, had a photo session or family picture taking at the second gate of the fort.

The spouses were then divided into two groups and rode electronic jeepneys to reach their assigned destinations.

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak’s spouse had to leave early for the airport since their country will be hosting the 27th Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit.

One group proceeded to Casa Manila in which scenes of a mundane Filipino family during the Spanish colonial era were recreated.

The other group headed to the nearby San Agustin Church where the “Hail Mary, the Queen choir”, composed of children, sang religious and Spanish songs. Outside, traditional carrozas (carriages) moved along the cobblestone path for the spouses to see.

They were reunited at the Ayuntamiento de Manila to have the culminating festivities and luncheon hosted by the presidential sisters.

Complementing the luncheon was a 20-minute program with a roster of performers including singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid, athlete and singer Matteo Guidicelli, and balladeers Erik Santos and Angeline Quinto.

The spouses, Jardin said, were “overwhelmed by the Filipino hospitality as well as the talent that the Filipino artists and craftsmen have showcased.”

“We’re very happy that we got very good feedback from the delegates and from the leaders,” he said. (PNA)