Seventy-five years ago this week, on May 22, 1946, Australia opened its first consulate-general in Manila. It was the beginning of one of the longest and most important bilateral relations for Australia.
Now, May 22 is celebrated as Philippine-Australia Friendship Day.
Over May 22 and 23, we are hosting a free and on-demand “Stream and Sip” Australian film festival at our 75th anniversary website mateshipandbayanihan.com. We have worked with Screen Australia and Flickerfest Festival to offer Filipino film lovers a selection of full-length and short films which have not been shown in the Philippines before. This festival is an opportunity to experience Australian contemporary culture from the safety of one’s home while sipping on your favorite beverage.
Ambassador Steven Robinson AO was joined by Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. at SM Mall of Asia on May 13 to witness the lighting up of the iconic MOA Globe with the 75th Anniversary Commemorative logo. The logo will be displayed on the Globe until May 23, 2021.
What we are really celebrating this year is the depth of the friendship and partnership between Australia and the Philippines which has stood firm throughout good times and bad – including the events of the past year.
Last week, I joined Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to witness lighting up the iconic SM Mall of Asia LED Globe, which is featuring images from our 75 Stories of Friendship between Australia and the Philippines.
Our story is one of an enduring friendship – from the liberation of the Philippines starting in the waters of Leyte in World War II, to the construction of schools and roads across the country and, most recently, in responding to the challenges of Covid-19 – Australia and the Philippines have stood side-by-side as trusted friends do.
This friendship starts with the deep bonds between our people. Everywhere I travel around this remarkable country, Filipinos tell me stories of their connections with Australia. We have collected some of these stories of friendship and partnership and you can find them on our commemorative website.
We also could not have celebrated this year’s Philippines-Australia Friendship Day without the strong support of Australian business. Firms such as Austal, Crone Architects, GHD, Greenstone Resources Corp., IDP, Qantas, QBE and Telstra are all investing in the Philippines, supporting jobs and helping to deepen our friendship.
On May 22 and 23, the Australian Embassy will host an online weekend ‘Stream & Sip Fesitval’ on mateshipandbayanihan.com. The festival will see the Asian premiere of three full-length Australian Films: Lion, an Australian biographical drama based on the book A Long Way Home, and stars Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, and Rooney Mara; Little Monsters, a zombie comedy film featuring Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England and Josh Gad; and H is for Happiness, a classic family film based on the award-winning book, My Life As An Alphabet. The ‘Stream and Sip’ festival program will also feature a selection of seven short films from Flickerfest, Australia’s only Academy® Award accredited and BAFTA recognised Short Film festival. The embassy will also be offering a ‘Taste of Australia’ experience by bringing together online retailers of the freshest and finest Australian fruits, food, and beverage.
Many Australian companies eyeing expansion in the Southeast Asian region are interested in the Philippines. It is a testament to the potential and talent of Filipinos.
For example, online design and publishing platform Canva, whose founder and CEO is Filipino-Australian Melanie Perkins, continues to invest in its Philippines office, creating opportunities for local talents. The Embassy has partnered with Canva for our Friendship Day online design #CanvaChallenge.
Finally, we celebrate our network of Australian-educated Filipinos are our citizen-ambassadors of friendship. They are the Philippines’ best and brightest who are helping forge stronger bonds between our peoples through their work in government, industry and civil society; and by leading the celebrations for Friendship Day each year.
I am very confident the friendships we enjoy today will build our relationship long into the future. Happy Friendship Day!