Thursday, August 30, 2012

Phl, Vietnam make beautiful music together

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Filipino songbirds Rachelle Gerodias and Joanna Ampil sang “The Impossible Dream” together with Vietnamese pop star Duc Tuan as Japanese conductor Tetsuji Honna guided the Filipino and Vietnamese orchestra.

The Philippines and Vietnam made beautiful music together the other night, with Vietnam’s Bui Cong Duy on the violin and Cultural Center of the Philippines president Raul Sunico on the piano providing the opening number.

The occasion was the advance celebration of the 67th Independence Day of Vietnam, which is on Sept. 2.

Ambassador Nguyen Vu Tu organized the Vietnam-Philippines Friendship Concert, flying in Vietnamese performers for the show at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza.

Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario delivered the toast for the National Day, heading to the reception straight from the airport upon his return from Naga City, where he attended the necrological rites for Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo.

Both Del Rosario and Nguyen Vu Tu reaffirmed their commitment to the peaceful settlement of territorial disputes in the South China Sea, called the East Sea by the Vietnamese and the West Philippine Sea by Filipinos.

The two countries have expressed the strongest protests against China’s increasing assertiveness in enforcing its territorial claims over nearly the entire West Philippine Sea.

Del Rosario, in his remarks at the Vietnamese reception, said Manila is working “very closely” with Hanoi in resolving the disputes peacefully, including finalizing a Code of Conduct.

In enforcing territorial claims, Del Rosario said, “the threat of force, or force itself, should not be used.”

Nguyen said the relationship between the two countries “has changed from strength to strength.”

“Vietnam joins the Philippines in persevering to settle these disputes peacefully,” he said, in compliance with international laws, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

UNCLOS provides a 200-mile exclusive economic zone for each country.

Last July, ASEAN foreign ministers failed to come up with a joint communiqué following their annual meeting, held this year in Phnom Penh. Cambodia currently holds the rotating ASEAN chair.

The Philippines blamed Phnom Penh for blocking the inclusion of the West Philippine Sea dispute in the joint communiqué.

Cambodia said the issue should be considered a bilateral matter – the position taken by China – even if ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam, aside from the Philippines, are also claiming parts of the sea.

China is also feuding with Japan and Taiwan over territorial waters.

It was the first time in 45 years that the ASEAN foreign ministers failed to come up with a joint communiqué at the end of their meeting.

Later, the grouping issued a milder six-point statement.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio, who attended the ministers’ meeting, wrote an article, published in several Philippine newspapers, explaining what happened.

In response, Cambodia’s ambassador at the time in Manila, Hos Sereythonh, wrote a letter addressed to The STAR editor-in-chief Ana Marie Pamintuan, giving the side of Phnom Penh and accusing Manila and Vietnam of playing “dirty politics.”

After the letter was published by The STAR, the Department of Foreign Affairs summoned the Cambodian envoy, who sent word that he was sick.

Another embassy official received a note verbale of protest from the DFA.

Phnom Penh recalled the ambassador over a week later, cutting short his stint, and nominated a replacement.

Del Rosario stayed for the entire concert the other night. So did Basilio.

The repertoire ranged from Filipino songs such as “Hatinggabi,” Vietnamese tunes such as “Nho Que” (Missing My Home Village), and classical and Broadway tunes.

For the encore, the Filipino and Vietnamese singers performed “Trong Lom” (Rice Drum), a folksong of northern Vietnam.-The Philippine Star (August 30, 2012)

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