Malaysian Embassy hosts Iftar Event for Media to Celebrate Ramadan, 60 Years of Bilateral Relations with Phl

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Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino( Center in green ong sleeve Malaysian batik) pose with the members of the Philippine media and Malaysian Embassy Manila diplomatic team.)

By Monsi A. Serrano

Valuing the importance of the role of the media in the Philippines and in communicating, educating and disseminating information and initiatives of the different embassies in the Philippines, Malaysian Ambassador to the Philippines Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino hosted an exclusive Iftar Event for the media in the Philippines at Rumah Malaysia on April 3 to celebrate Ramadan and the 60 Years of Bilateral Relations between Philippines and Malaysia.

The breaking of the bread between the media and the Malaysian Embassy team provided the non-Muslims the opportunity to understand and respect the value the uniqueness of one’s faith, and at the same time appreciate the Malaysian culture. It was another testament to the sanctity of the month of Ramadan and the commemoration of the robust 60th anniversary of bilateral relations between Malaysia and the Philippines.

Observation of Ramandan

Ambassador Castelino also shared to the media the significance of Ramadan for Muslims around the world.

Ramadan, being the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a period of profound spiritual significance for Muslims worldwide. It commemorates the month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, marking a time of fasting, reflection, and community. Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, abstaining from food, drink, and other physical needs. This act of fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.

While the Iftar, or the meal with which the fast is broken at sunset, is a moment of joy and celebration, shared with family, friends, and the community. It begins with the eating of dates and is followed by a prayer and a meal. This tradition not only embodies the spirit of Ramadan but also fosters a sense of belonging and unity among those who participate.

What makes the event very interesting for the members of the media is the fact that the Iftar event served as an opportunity for the media to engage in cultural exchange, deepen their understanding of Islamic traditions, and partake in the breaking of the fast in an atmosphere of camaraderie and goodwill, by serving the traditional Malaysian Ramadan delicacies.

According to the Malaysian envoy, in Malaysia Iftar is celebrated with people from all faiths.

This year’s Iftar event at the Embassy of Malaysia is especially meaningful as it marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Philippines. Over the past six decades, both nations have nurtured a relationship built on mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation, spanning various sectors such as trade, education, and security. The Embassy takes immense pride in celebrating this milestone alongside the cherished month of Ramadan, highlighting the shared values and enduring friendship between our two countries.

Throughout this special year, the Embassy has organized and has lined up numerous programmes and events encapsulating the multiple facets of Malaysia-Philippines relations. Recently, we had organized the 60th Anniversary of Malaysia-Philippines Bilateral Relations logo design competition and announced Mr. Jayven Villamater as the winner, winning PHP35,500 and a roundtrip ticket from Manila to Kuala Lumpur.

With trade and investment being a key component of the Philippine and Malaysia bilateral relations, the Embassy is focused on driving growth for Malaysia and the Philippines focusing on targeted sectors which include infrastructure (construction and building materials), digitalization and halal.

In addition, the Embassy also collaborated with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) back in March 2024 to organize DEX Connex focusing on ICT and digitalization, to support Malaysian tech companies’ growth in the Philippine market and foster collaborative relationships between high-tech firms in both countries. The two-day programme, held at the Embassy in Manila, saw the participation of 35 Malaysian high tech companies who engaged with 50 potential partners and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in the Philippines.

As for the halal sector, the Embassy is now actively promoting the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) which will be held from 17 – 20 September 2024 in Kuala Lumpur. Last year nearly 40,000 trade visitors from 100 countries attended the event in Kuala Lumpur. From food & beverages, cosmetics, halal ingredients, muslim-friendly tourism, Islamic finance and fintech as well as modest fashion and lifestyle, MIHAS covers the entire spectrum of the Islamic lifestyle demands. The trade office of the Embassy is currently actively recruiting Philippine buyers and exhibitors to participate in MIHAS. For more details on the event, please contact manila@matrade.gov.my

The recent launching of the Philippine Halal Industry Development Strategic Plan 2024 – 2028 by the Department of Trade and Industry will create a harmonious synergy among the halal industry players, certification bodies and relevant government departments. Such collaboration promises to spark innovation, generate business opportunities and propel the success of the Halal MSMEs in the Philippines in the domestic and global market.

The signing of MoU between DTI and Halal Expo Philippines is a significant stride forward. This collaboration will undoubtedly enhance the new Halal-Friendly Philippines brand, drawing more investments from the global halal industry players. Malaysia, recognizing the potential for collaboration, is more than willing to extend its expertise to the Philippines, namely the Department of Trade and Industries (DTI), Department of Tourism, local Government Units and others, in offering support in market access and capacity building training.

The Embassy is also beaming with pride as Maybank, Malaysia’s largest bank, will be opening its first Islamic bank branch in Zamboanga later this year.
In regards to tourism, Malaysia recorded a total of 20.1 million international tourist arrivals and RM71.3 billion in tourist receipts in 2023, surpassing its initial target of 16.1 million arrivals. This year, Malaysia aims to woo 27.3 million arrivals with RM102.7 billion in tourism revenue. The Philippines was the top ten contributor to the arrival to Malaysia with 339,282 tourists.

This year Tourism Malaysia is also ramping up its efforts to attract Filipino tourists. A sales mission in May will see them partnering with airlines and tour operators to boost arrivals. Filipinos can also expect to connect with Tourism Malaysia throughout the year at the annual Malaysia Week and a travel expo in September.

As a multicultural haven, Tourism Malaysia is particularly excited to showcase Malaysia’s offerings for Filipino travelers, including Muslim-friendly holidays ideal for culturally sensitive experiences, family vacations perfect for creating lasting memories, and world-class MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) facilities for unforgettable business events. Beyond that, will dive in more to upcoming trends such as high-quality and affordable medical tourism options, diverse shopping experiences that capture the essence of Malaysian lifestyle, and a tantalizing gastronomic journey through the country’s rich culinary traditions.

Recognizing the importance of people-to-people ties, on February 26, 2024, the Embassy of Malaysia in Manila, in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia, Artdialogo Asia Founding Artist & CEO Ms. Anna Karina Jardin and the Department of Education’s Schools Division of Malabon, organized a cross cultural art program named SENISWELA at the Tinajeros National Highschool in Malabon City. Through the program, the participants were able to gain exposure and develop a better understanding of the world around them, including self and cultural awareness, as well as to learn to appreciate the similarities and differences of Malaysia and the Philippines’ shared heritage.

According to Amb. Castelino, it will be an exciting year for the embassy as both Philippines and Malaysia celebrate 60 years of diplomatic relations, with high hopes of many more years to come. To make it even more sweeter, Malaysia will also be gearing up to take up the helm of ASEAN in 2025, making it a double celebration.

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