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International Bazaar 2023 Brings the World to the Philippines
BY EDWIN ALLAN C. DIAZ


Switzerland’s premium chocolates, the Netherlands’ famous smoked sausages, Australia’s artisanal cheeses, Spain’s jamón, and Austria’s schnapps were just some of the finest products sold during the International Bazaar held at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) last November 19, 2023.


Products from 31 "Philippines' Best” exhibitors, imported and local goods, as well as merchandise from the 38 embassies and six participating consulates were on sale during the event, which drew approximately 6,000 visitors.


An annual fundraiser of the International Bazaar Foundation (IBF), the proceeds went to scholarship grants for poor but deserving students; livelihood projects for distressed communities and victims of calamities; financial and in-kind assistance to homes for the elderly and abandoned children; assistance to foundations, medical institutions, and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and care for persons with disability (PWDs), the homeless, and disadvantaged groups.


IBF partnered with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the diplomatic and consular corps, and Spouses of the Heads of Mission (SHOM) Foundation for the bazaar, which is now in its 57th year.


FIVE DECADES OF GIVING BACK

Angela Valdes-Ramos, wife of then-DFA Secretary Narciso Ramos, initiated the International Bazaar in 1966. It was a special project of the ladies of DFA, the diplomatic and consular corps, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and other government agencies including the private sector.


This year’s theme is “Shop Global, Help Local.” It was a golden opportunity for diplomatic missions and SHOM to showcase their country’s products, network, and generate leads to reach local Philippine importers.


SHOM Foundation is composed of the spouses of former ambassadors and permanent chargés d’affaires accredited to the country. Together, they learn more about the Philippines and its culture, attend special outings, speaking engagements, and sporting activities, and visit local tourist spots. It exists alongside the IBF based on cooperation, friendship, and understanding to ensure the IBF accomplishes their mission “[to] help change the lives of the marginalized sectors of society by generating charitable capital and providing services that contribute to the health and well-being of the communities we serve.”


A BIGGER, BETTER BAZAAR One month before the International Bazaar, the IBF hosted a press conference, also at the PICC, to give a glimpse of the things to expect at the event and what it stands for. Argentina, Australia, Austria, Finland, India, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, Romania, Singapore, and Turkey set up a mini-exhibit for a sneak peek.


“As we announce this 57th International Bazaar, we celebrate not just numbers: 42 participants from the Diplomatic and Consular Corps and 31 from our own ‘Philippines' Best' Exhibitors but also the stories, tastes, and craftsmanship that each booth will offer,” said IBF Overall Chairperson Pamela Luis Manalo, the wife of incumbent DFA Secretary Enrique Manalo.


Other members of the IBF board of trustees were also present, such as President Betty Ang, Vice Chairperson and Consul Helen Ong, Treasurer Alice Guerrero, and IBF Executive Director Nora Salazar. SHOM Foundation Chairperson Arkadius Tracz, Media Representative Indri Akyol from Turkey, and other members of the 2023 Executive Committee also graced the press conference.

“On a serious note, beyond the delightful shopping and cultural experiences, the essence of our endeavor goes deeper. ‘Shop Global, Help Local’ encapsulates our mission. It’s about making a difference. The funds we raise through this event empower us to touch lives, supporting abused women, homeless individuals, and marginalized communities. Offering them not just aid but hope,” Manalo added.


A BEACON OF HOPE Long regarded as an annual tradition to usher in the holiday season, this year’s event was described by Taguig City Mayor and former IBF head Laarni Cayetano as “a beacon of hope and positive change,” a “wonderful initiative… embodying the true spirit of compassion and global citizenship.” For her part, IBF head Manalo underscored the importance of unity in diversity, and of coming together for a common cause.



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