By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times
FORMER first lady Imelda Marcos and nine others were the first batch of laureates who received the Award for Promoting Philippines-China Understanding (Appcu) for fostering amity between the two countries.
The 10 Appcu 2021 Laureates were chosen by the Association of Philippines-China Understanding (APCU) and Chinese Embassy in Manila.
Marcos and former special envoy of the Philippines to China former ambassador Francis Chua took the Appcu's Hall of Fame award.
Marcos was cited for helping her husband, then-president Ferdinand Marcos, "seal the establishment of the diplomatic ties between China and the Philippines in June 1975."
The other awardees under the Outstanding Contributions category were Dr. Rommel Banlaoi, Herman Tiu Laurel, Teresita Ang-See and Dr. Lourdes Tanhueco-Nepomuceno.
For the Major Contributions category, the awardees were Prof. Jaime FlorCruz, Dr. Mario Leonardo Aportadera, Adolfo Paglinawan and John Nicolo Fernandez.
Former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, APCU chairman emeritus, said Philippines-China relations are important. "When I became president, relations between the Philippines and China entered a golden age."
In a recorded message, she said the continued friendship of the Chinese and Filipino peoples "enhances the mutually beneficial relations between our two countries and contributes to peace and harmony in the Asia-Pacific region."
"That is the significance of my presidential proclamation declaring June 9 of every year as Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day," Arroyo said.
She added, "Under President Rodrigo Duterte bilateral ties between the Philippines and China have reached new heights."
Chinese Embassy Counsellor Yonghui Xie said Appcu Award aims "to carry on the tradition of friendly exchanges over the past centuries. China and the Philippines share a millennium history of amicable exchanges."
"If we look back at history, I think we will find that our two peoples have natural aspirations to know each other, to develop friendship and live in harmony and peace," he said.
"Today, we should carry forward the spirit of our ancestors to continue this journey of mutual understanding and friendship. So, that's my first perspective," Xie said.
He noted that during the past few years "under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, our two countries have entered a new golden era and established a comprehensive strategic relationship, which has brought tangible benefits to the people of both countries and also inject positive energy to the peace and stability in the region."
"As the interests of our two countries are closely intertwined and the people-to-people interactions are increasingly intensive, I think it is now the right time to launch Appcu awards, which answers the people's aspirations and meet the needs to jointly construct a closer China-Philippine partnership in a new era," Xie said.
On behalf of all the awardees, Banlaoi said the award "recognizes our tireless efforts to promote mutual understanding between the Philippines and China."
He said Chinese and Filipinos have enjoyed more than 500 years of friendly and productive and peaceful relations. "However, for the past 50 years, the Philippines-China relations suffered bitter conflicts because of the clash of ideologies of the Cold War and post-war maritime and territorial disputes in the South China Sea."
Banlaoi, president of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies, said these differences can be resolved peacefully through sustained consultations.
"That's why we need to promote mutual understanding between our two countries and even among our people in order to cherish our long history of friendship and peacefully resolve our current political differences," he said.
"Promoting our mutual understanding, which is the main spirit of this award, can open many channels of communications that are essential for good neighborly relations to prosper between China and the Philippines," Banlaoi added.