Celebrating more than seven decades of mutual friendship, the recently-concluded 2020 Philippines-Korea Cultural Exchange Festival highlighted both nations' colorful traditions and breathtaking talents.
Despite having its major events online, mostly on YouTube and Facebook, the PhilKor event remained a large success - enjoying more than 40,000 concurrent viewers in both platforms. Organizers of the event expressed gratitude to the fans of the performers, Korean bands, as well as guests Celso Espejo Rondalla, K-pop Dance Diva, dancer Dasuri Choi, Star Hunt Academy Trainees, P-Pop phenomenon SB19, and Asia's Soul Supreme KZ Tandingan.
We Rise Together
With the theme "We Rise Together," the collaboration between the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in the Philippines, the Korean Cultural Center (KCC), and the United Korean Community Association (UKCA), together with the Philippines' National Commission for the Culture and the Arts, was a resounding celebration of inspiration, talent, and friendship in the middle of the global coronavirus pandemic.
Culminating the event was a heartwarming performance of SB19's "Ikako," written by the group's very own Sejun. The song, originally released in the middle of the quarantine as "a simple gift of hope" and to cheer their fans, saw an updated rendition from a number of artists including Mona Gonzales, Ann Sandig, plus a Korean verse courtesy of Wave Lee. Dasuri Choi, Celso Espejo Rondalla, and the World Music Band ID, provided the dance and accompaniments to the closing song.
The video for the PhilKor Fest 2020's "Ikako" was also filled with images and footage of both countries working together in the middle of the pandemic.
In line with the mutual recovery efforts between the Philippines and South Korea, Seoul has granted Manila with a US$100 million loan to help boost the Philippine response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Export-Import Bank of Korea (EximBank) made the announcement last November 2, of its agreement with the Philippines' Department of Finance. Despite travel restrictions for health and safety reasons, the deal pushed through as both parties cross-signed the documents by mail.
Recognizing Talents in Support of Both Cultures
One of the highlights of this year's PhilKor Fest was the awarding of the online talent contest winners. Different competitions were held, with participants submitting a video of their performances online - with the event hosted by content creator Kristy Cho (KristyPata), television host Sam Oh, and events host Pao Ocampo.
Mariz Mitra, who performed "Will Be Back" by Korean soprano Im Sunhae for the hit K-Drama "Scarlet Heart Ryeo," bagged the Vocal Category. Meanwhile, six-piece ensembles Neverglow secured the top spot for the Dance Category with their cover for Everglow's "Dundun." Both winners received a cash prize of P30,000. The grand prize for the online talent competition was awarded to acapella group Iskollas with their vocal rendition of a Girls' Generation hit single, "Into the New World."
"The performances served as an inspiration and a source of energy and happiness through the trying times, especially for the brave frontliners of both countries," a statement from the organizers read. "Through the good, the bad, and everything in between, the Philippines and Korea will further their beautiful friendship and deep cultural exchange so that we can rise together through any adversities."