Saturday, October 28, 2006

China: Fujian, the link between the Philippines and China

Our next destination was Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province. To me, it was a sentimental trip for the Philippine delegation since the Chinese ancestors of most Filipinos, myself included, hail from Fujian province. So it was like a coming home of sorts.

The group left Nanning shortly before lunch. We had to attend the opening of a China-ASEAN art exhibit before trooping to the airport. Our plane was a Xiamen Airlines flight to Fuzhou via Shenzen. Lunch was served on board.

The flight was delayed so we arrived in Fuzhou behind schedule. Since our delegation head had to return to the Philippines, I took over as delegation head having been appointed deputy delegation head by the NYC. So my ceremonial duties began as soon as we arrived at the airport, receiving the floral token of our hosts as the delegation entered the terminal.

The city proper was about an hour away from the airport. We were billeted at the 5-star Lakeside Hotel. Since we were already behind schedule, we barely had enough time to get dressed for the visit to Fujian Normal University. Ergo, no time to rest. Sigh!

As we arrived, we were welcomed at the library building by a marching band. First on our list of things to do was a group photograph at the lobby. After that, it was off for a library tour. This was our second university visit and they always tour us around the library more than any other place. It just shows how important libraries are in Chinese student life.

The banquet hosted by the Fujian Youth Federation followed so we boarded the buses to move to the next building. And just like always, there were the usual welcome speeches and exchange of tokens and toasts. It was my turn to exchange tokens with our hosts in behalf of the delegation. In the photo is myself with the chairman of the Fujian Youth Federation, Mr. Wu Li Guan. I had to sit at the presidential table too, away from the rest of the delegation. So it was quite lonely there but a different experience which I enjoyed as well.

Unlike the rest of the tables where the food is served on large dishes, each of us on the presidential table got individual small portions of every dish. I didn't keep count but I heard there were maybe fifteen dishes served.

We then moved buildings again this time for the cultural night with the students of the university. But before that, we were treated to a demonstration of the Chinese tea ceremony and its precise and intricate movements. I've uploaded a video of the ceremony courtesy of the Fujian Normal University.

The cultural night followed. We presented a shortened version of our original presentation but got more cheers this time since our repeat performance was very much anticipated. Haha! Again, let's leave it at that! I was impressed with the different cultural numbers rendered by the students which included traditional dances and a wushu demonstration.

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