Twelve Cebuano youths flew to the Province of Fujian in the People’s Republic of China last Oct. 24 as part of a two-week Philippines–China(Fujian) Youth Friendly Exchange Program.
Together with them were 16 other Filipinos and 28 Chinese youth members and officials who flew with them last Oct. 18 to Manila for the program’s kick-off activities. From Manila, the delegates hopped to Davao and in Cebu where they, particularly the Chinese youths, experienced the Filipino hospitality as well as learned the Philippine-China relations, similarities and history by visiting museums, universities and historical sites.
The Fujian Foreign Affairs Office initiated the people-to-people exchange program where they invited youth members or students around the Philippines, including Cebu, to engage with other youth and/or students from China to deeply understand each other’s differences and to relate to every likeness.
The program was co-sponsored by the Philippine Chinese Embassy, Chinese Consul-General in Cebu and Davao, and Friends of the Philippines Foundation.
Lin Xuefeng, deputy general director of Fujian Foreign Affairs Office of the People’s Republic of China, quoted Dr. Jose Rizal that “the youth is the hope of the future,” and he hopes that the program will be a journey of friendship and discoveries.
He encouraged the delegates to make the exchange program as a starting point where both can work, learn and grow together to become bridges of a stronger bond between the two countries.
The first China–Philippines Youth Friendly Exchange Program signified the bilateral relations between the two nations, not only in economy and trade but also to seal people-to-people exchanges.
Before flying to China, youth delegate Feltom Homecillo, 7th district youth coordinator and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) chairperson of Barangay Madridejos in Alegria town, shared that it was his first time to join an exchange program and to fly to another country.
“I’m so thankful to be part of this program and looking forward to immerse with the Chinese culture and tradition and as well as share what I know about the Philippines to my new Chinese friends,” Homecillo said as he prepared himself to the grand tour in China.
Fujian, China journey
The delegates of the exchange program landed in their first city stop in Xiamen where they were welcomed by the advancement of the smart and most liveable city in China. They went for a historical walk at the Zhongshan Street and sailed to the western-influenced island of Gulangyu.
They also visited the universities in Fujian that took part of the exchange program, such as Huaqiao University; Quanzhou Normal University, where they tried Tai Chi and Chinese calligraphy; Fujian Medical University; Fujian University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, where the delegates experienced acupuncture, cupping therapy and traditional Chinese massage; Fujian University of Technology and Minjiang University; and joined in a discussion about the education system as well as the history of the campuses.
Dr. Zhang Hang, a professor from Huaqiao University in Xiamen, explained to the youth delegates the Chinese descent of some of the notable people in the Philippines in their province.
These people include the national hero of the Philippines Dr. Jose Rizal, who is from Xiamen; former president Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, who is from the City of Zhangzhou; and SM founder and country’s richest man Henry Sy, who roots can be traced back in Jinjiang City.
In Jinjiang City, a Rizal monument astounded the Filipino delegates showing how China gave importance to the Philippine national hero and the friendship between the two nations.
The delegates enjoyed the colorful Impression Da Hong Pao show and tasted the well-known tea before they climbed up the heavenly mountains of Tianyou Peak and rafted the nine curves stream by bamboo in Wuyishan.
The Chinese and Filipino delegates had fun helping each other while enjoying the sceneries in China.
The Chinese delegates also served as guides and translators to their foreign friends during the tour, particularly in buying souvenir items at Three Lanes and Seven Alleys and in going to the Panda World in Fuzhou City.
Aia Apostol, SK Federation president of Badian, thanked the Chinese Government for their warm accommodation during the whole program.
“I learned that despite the cultural differences of both countries, it’s always our mutual understanding and relationship that really matters,” Apostol added.
The ties between Fujian and the Province of Cebu has long been established as most Chinese residing and/or doing business in Cebu are said to have come from Fujian.
The relationship between the two provinces was even strengthened following the signing of the sister-province agreement last Sept. 12. Fujian Gov. Tang Dengjie came to Cebu to sign the agreement with Gov. Hilario P. Davide III officially sealing the two provinces’ relationship.
The agreement promised to boost investment and tourism opportunities as well as more people-to-people exchanges.