Stars of Baguio – Hangzhou historic sisterhood ties remembered-A A +A
By Nars Padilla
Friday, February 22, 2013
VETERAN newsman NARS PADILLA was the City Tourism Director of the City of Baguio and served as the Delegation Secretary of the First City of Baguio Friendship-Cultural Mission to the People’s Republic of China (PROC) which initiated the idea that eventually pave the way for the historic “Sisterhood Relationship” between the City of Baguio, Philippines and the City of Hangzou, PROC, the second city in China to pursue sister city relationship with other foreign countries throughout the world.
SOMETIME IN THE 70’s the Marcos administration started to open up diplomatic lanes between the Republic of the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China, PROC.
SPORTS AND CULTURAL EXCHANGES between the two Asian countries took place to usher in stronger bonds of friendship, understanding and respect for each other’s government idiosyncracies and ideology. The Philippines thrives on the principle of democracy while the PROC is a communist country.
THE SO-CALLED “PING_PONG” (sport table tennis) diplomacy and a series of stage presentation by the PROC Kwang Chow Acrobatic Team in Manila and several capital cities in the country, among others, accentuated the pace to firm up the diplomatic incentive.
IN A RECIPROCAL GESTURE woven in the fabric of peace and amity the Philippines also sent to China several friendship-cultural contingents to bridge the historical links and other interests of the Philippines and China in field of trade and commerce, culture and sports and economy at the fore.
ON THE FINAL LEG of the diplomatic Journey Madam Imelda R. Marcos, former First Lady of the Philippines, personally led a special government diplomatic entourage to the Capital City of Beijing, PROC which immensely contributed to the fruition of official diplomatic ties between the Republic of the Philippines and People’s Republic of China which lifted its “iron curtains” in 1978 to become a member of the Family of Nations.
For the record, the first city of Baguio Friendship-cultural Mission to the People Republic of China was organized by former city mayor Luis L. Lardizabal in cooperation with the Association for Philippine-China Understanding (APCU) Baguio City Chapter with the approval of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (PAFFC) chaired by the Hon. Wang Ben Nang who favorably endorsed the idea of sisterhood between this mountain resort city and Hangzhou.
The 12-man mission from the city was headed by former city councilor Edilberto Tenefrancia with the late former vice mayor Pedro Claravall as assistant delegation head. This writer served as the delegation secretary. I was also the English secretary of the APCU Baguio City Chapter.
The other charter members of the mission were former city councilor Teofisto Rondez and his better half Liwanag, former city councilor Loenides Bautista, (Maj.) Venancio Duque, Station Commander of the BCPS, the late Bienvenido Andaya, field coordinator of the Baguio Field Office, Ministry of Tourism; Chinese Businessmen-civic Leaders Gonzalo Ong, President of the Baguio Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce; William Ang, Mission Liaison Officer and Johnny Tan Heng and lawyer Damaso Bangoet, Jr.
THE 14-DAY RED CARPET Journey to China took the centerstage from October 23 to November 6, 1979. A myriad of activities focused on conferences, educational, cultural, tourism and sightseeing tours held in Beijing, Nanjing. Shanghai, Hangzhou and Guangzhou (Canton) including a side trip to Hongkong highlighted the Mission’s calendar events.
IT WAS DURING THE farewell dinner at Hangzhou on November 3 when the noble idea of sisterhood between the Cities of Baguio and Hangzhou was proposed by the Mission through Councilor Tenefrancia which was warmly accepted for study and consideration by the Hangzhou city officials.
THE SISTERHOOD PROPOSAL was base principally in the commonalities in tourism attractions, economic base and potentials and the natural physical endowment and grandeur of both cities.
THE DREAM OF TWINNING THE CITIES was finally zealed with the formal signing of the Sisterhood Relationship documents by the late former City Mayor Ernesto H. Bueno and the former City Mayor of Hangzhou, Hon. Chou Hung, witnessed by members of the Hangzhou People’s Congress and representatives from the City of Baguio held at the People’s Congress Hall in Hangzhou on August 13, 1982.
The rest of the story is now part of the glorious history of the two cities which are miles apart across the great pacific ocean yet concerted and common in their sustained vision, interest and determination to keep the flame of sisterhood warm and radiant and meaningful and purposeful for all season.
Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 23, 2013.