In celebration of the 75th anniversary of French-Philippine diplomatic relations, Alliance Française de Manille (AFM), in cooperation with the Embassy of France, SM, and the National Commission on Culture and the Arts recently unveiled the Happier Together: 75 Faces of French-Philippine Connections portrait exhibition at The Podium.
The touring exhibition features 75 personalities who embody the joy that French-Philippine relations bring, and symbolizes the rich and vibrant links between the two countries. They include members of government, the diplomatic corps, non-government organizations, the arts and culture community, business sector, and the academe.
AFM executive director Xavier Leroux shared, “This exhibition of 75 portraits is highly symbolic. It has been, from the beginning, a very participatory project, as we did not know upon the start of the project what the final list of the 75 portraits on display would be”.
“We started with the personalities associated with the Alliance, the France-Philippines Chamber of Commerce and the Embassy, and we incorporated your suggestions. The result is stunning: we were truly impressed by the richness of the journeys that embody this bilateral relationship,” Leroux said.
The ceremonial toast was led by French Ambassador Michele Boccoz who was joined by former Philippine Ambassador to France and Monaco and current president of AFM Cristina Ortega, AFM executive director Xavier Leroux together with SM’s Steven Tan and Millie Dizon.
Among the featured personalities attending the vernissage were Jewelmer co-founder and Rear Admiral in the Philippine Coast Guard Jacques Branellec; book author Lourdes Montinola whose family founded the Far Eastern University; former president of BPI, Chairman of FEU, Former President of AFM and Chevalier-Légion d’Honneur Aurelio Montinola III.
Featured personalities from the arts and culture community also came to celebrate the milestone anniversary exhibition. These included designer Lulu Tan-Gan, Cannes Film Festival best director Brillante Mendoza, filmmaker Raymond Red, artists Poklong Anading and Manny Baldemor, Altromondo owner and artistic director Remigio David, and French Embassy cultural attache Martin Macalintal.
Likewise, members of the NGO community like Hubert d’Aboville with his foundation Together Ensemble, and Nanette Repalpa, the National Representative at France Volontaires, together with the French-Filipino community’s Bruno Vergnes and the Le Club team, Bobby de Ocampo from the France Alumni Philippines Association, and John Fisalbon, president of France Philippines Young Professionals, were seen celebrating the happy occasion.
Over the years, The Podium and SM have been supportive in the promotion of French culture in the Philippines beginning with the 2003 French Spring Festival, one of the earliest cultural events at The Podium since it opened in 2002.
The exhibition is one of the highlights of the 75th anniversary celebration of diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines, and will tour select SM Malls in early 2023.
Happier Together: 75 Faces of French-Philippine Connections is presented by Alliance Française de Manille, the Embassy of France to the Philippines, National Commission on Culture and the Arts, together with SM Supermalls, The Podium, and Café Kitsune.