The Philippine Embassy in Spain participated in La Navideña Feria Internacional de las Culturas held in Matadero, Madrid on 15-29 December 2017. The Navideña is Madrid’s annual international Christmas bazaar. The Philippine booths at the fair featured Christmas handicrafts made primarily from capiz and abaca, and Filipino food classics. A number of activities celebrating Filipino cultural traditions and icons were also held, such as the tinikling and interpretative dances by Tahanan, a Filipino community group in Madrid, workshops on making parols, festival masks, pearl bracelets, an adobo cooking demonstration by Ms. Alicia Kalaw-Fernandez, and a concert by Alexandra Masangkay, one of the stars of the 2016 Spanish film 1898: Los últimos de Filipinas.
During the inauguration, Madrid City Mayor Manuela Carmena dropped by the Philippine booth and expressed her admiration of the beauty, creativity and uniqueness of the handicrafts on display.
The workshops, originally intended for children, were attended by locals of all ages and were conducted by Ms. Cristine Barbo and other Embassy staff to introduce Madrileños to some icons of Philippine culture. Parol-making was held on 15 December which began with an introduction on the importance of Christmas in Filipino culture, the ubiquitousness of the parol during the holiday season and the parol festival in Pampanga; festival mask-making was held on 16 December, with a context on the various festivals that require their use such as the Ati-atihan, Sinulog, and Masskara; and pearl bracelet-making, which gave a background on the pearl farming industry of the Philippines and the pearl-diving method of harvesting pearls.
Meanwhile, close to 60 people filled up Plató, one of the concert halls of the Matadero, on 16 December 2017 to witness Ms. Masangkay perform and sing several Spanish, Filipino and English-language songs including classics such as Bayan Ko, Amy Winehouse’s version of Valerie, and the Chavacano version of Porque.
An adobo cooking demonstration, conducted by Ms. Alicia Kalaw-Fernandez, was also held on 17 December with around 50 people in attendance. Highlighting the similarities of Filipino cooking methods with Spanish ones, Ms. Kalaw-Fernandez related to the crowd the Philippines’ diverse cultural influences and history as reflected in its cuisine.
The fair is organized by the City of Madrid and highlights the social and cultural diversity of the city. More than 250 activities are held throughout the event, intended to bring Madrileños closer to different cultures and the different ways of celebrating Christmas. Music, workshops for children, gastronomy, cinema, exhibitions, were conducted by the more than 75 embassies in Spain participating in the event.