The Expo 2020 site in Dubai.


Philippines to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai, Duterte signs order for special Philippine committee


DUBAI – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has signed an administrative order signaling the Philippines’ much-awaited participation in Expo 2020 Dubai.

The order, signed by Duterte on Wednesday and released to the media on Friday (April 26), named the Philippine organizing committee for the Expo 2020 and cited the need to facilitate the country’s participation in the expo.

Under the administrative order, Duterte assigned the Department of Trade and Industry secretary to be the chairperson, and the Commissioner-General of the Philippine Olympic Committee and the Department of Tourism secretary as vice chairpersons.

“The participation of the Philippines in the Expo 2020 Dubai provides an excellent opportunity to further enhance the country’s presence in a global scale, and promote the country’s commercial and public interests in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region,” the order read.

Resetting history, no bahay kubo

Details of the Philippine pavilion design were revealed to Philippine Ambassador to the UAE Hjayceelyn Quintana, a strong advocate of the Philippine participation in Expo 2020, Philippine Consul General Paul Raymund Cortes, Expat Media and community leaders earlier this month.

In a closed-door presentation in Dubai, Royal Pineda, CEO of architectural firm Budji Royal, which designed the Philippine pavilion, said that the Philippines’ entry in Expo 2020 will “reset history” by presenting the modern Filipino.

“We don’t want it to be a museum… What we want to show is the mindset of Filipinos today,” Pineda said, adding, “we’re not going to bring the bahay kubo to Dubai.”

Expo 2020 is set to take place from October 20, 2020 to April 10, 2021, and Pineda said that the Philippines has also prepared a special program at the pavilion on March 16, 2021, which marks 500 years after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines.

“It will be a reset of the mind,” Pineda said. “We chose that day because we will cancel that. This will be the Philippines’ boldest move to cancel its wrong history.”

“The idea is to announce to the world that we are now people of innovation,” Pineda added.

Pavilion inspired by nature

The Philippine pavilion is located in the Expo 2020 site’s Sustainability area. The multi-tiered pavilion will sit on a 3,000-square metre area and will house pockets of gardens featuring local flora and fauna, a plaza, a restobar featuring modern Filipino cuisine, viewing decks, exhibition areas, interactive sections and a gift shop.

Pineda said the pavilion design is inspired by the bangkota, an ancient Filipino word for coral reef. The modern pavilion will transport visitors through an “outdoor while indoor” experience where nature, technology and Filipino creativity combine to deliver a unique visitor experience.

“You will see nature, sunset, sunrise. Every spot will be different. Nothing will be the same,” the Filipino architect promised.

“At night, it will have moving lights that will [make the pavilion] look like a living coral reef,” he said. Special interactive areas of the pavilion will include sections where visitors will “see nature from a different perspective” as they walk through inverted trees and experience tropical rain without getting wet.

Future of pavilion

“We want people to leave this pavilion with a question ‘Where did I really come from as a Filipino?’,” Pineda said.

The architect said that the Philippine pavilion will be dismantled after the Expo 2020 in Dubai to be rebuilt in Subic, Philippines where it will become a permanent installation.

“This project is actually a concept of Filipinos being deployed all over the world… The idea is to celebrate something big for Filipinos,” Pineda said.

In his administrative order, Philippine President Duterte said the country’s participation in Expo 2020 Dubai “will contribute to the country’s goal of vigorously advancing science, technology and innovation as a strategy for long-term growth, consistent with the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022.”

Rosario Virginia Gaetos, Assistant Secretary of the Trade and Investments Promotions Group, during the presentation in Dubai earlier this month, described the Philippine pavilion in Dubai as an “investments promotion”.

“The expo will always be a platform for our country branding, but we should be able to maximize our investment here to generate tourism and trade. We will also use this as a global platform,” Gaetos said.

Filipino expats welcome move

Speaking to, Filipino expatriates in the UAE welcomed the Philippine participation in Expo 2020.

“This is exciting news, not just for Filipinos in the UAE but for the entire Philippines. It is the perfect platform to show the best of Philippine innovation and ingenuity in business, tourism, arts, culture and more. I truly appreciate the much deserved spotlight on the beauty of the Philippines and the limitless talents of Filipinos,” said Christine Bruton, Marketing Manager of UAE-based global fast food chain Chicking.

Christian Vasquez, a Dubai-based architect, said the Expo 2020 will allow the Philippines to showcase “innovative ideas to millions of visitors”.

“With the eyes of the world on Dubai, our presence at Expo 2020 affirms the vitality of Philippines-UAE relations while showing to the world the best of what the Philippines has to offer,” Vasquez said.

Countries participating in Expo 2020

The Philippines will join 191 other countries that have announced their participation in the event. According to organisers, Expo 2020 Dubai will be the first World Expo hosted in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region and is expected to attract 25 million visitors.

Aside from the UAE and the UK, countries that have already unveiled their pavilion plans include Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Thailand.

Those who confirmed participation, among other countries, are Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, China, Egypt, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, the US, Uganda and the Vatican City. PIA/ICA/Expat Media


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