By Marivir R. Montebon
New York – The Explore Islands Philippines tourism and trade exhibition winded up today, May 12, with great anticipation of another one for the next year. “This is truly a great exhibit and many were nostalgic seeing all these huge and beautiful posters. Made me homesick and proud,” said civic leader Tess Abutanmo Cruz.
Edwin Josue of the JS Productions promised there will be a second exhibition next year, which hopefully will be a lot bigger and better.
For four days, the Vanderbilt Hall on Grand Central Station where Explore Islands Philippines resided, became the hub of curious New Yorkers and nostalgic Filipinos. Corazon Hartzog thought there were fashion accessories and Filipino food on sale. Ariane Recto wanted the place to be more interactive, with receptionists explaining what the Philippines have to offer in terms of business and tourism opportunities.
On its opening day on May 9, a left-wing group conducted a 10-minute rally in the afternoon, saying that “the Philippines is not for sale.” The youth group also criticized the Philippine Pres. Duterte for his war against illegal drugs which has killed tens of thousands of small-time pushers and users without prosecuting big-time drug dealers and operators.
The exhibition organizers gave them their time, saying that the US is a democratic country where one can air their views freely. Josue said he admired UN Permanent Mission Amb. Teodoro Locsin Jr. for listening to them as a real diplomat should. The rallyists came when Locsin was in a discussion panel about “Why Invest in the Philippines.”
Asked if it bothered or embarrassed him to see the rallyists, Locsin smiled and said no. It’s their right to express their sentiments, he said.
(Featured photo: The Banaue Rice Terraces in the Mountain Province is one of the oldest ecosystems and cohesive social fabrics in northern Philippines. The rice terraces is what sustainable, indigenous agriculture and community life is all about. Tess Abutanmo Cruz embraces this part of the Philippines with love.)