As part of the commemorative activities on the occasion of the 125th anniversary of Philippine independence, the Philippine Embassy in Bangladesh, in cooperation with the Filipino community organizations in Bangladesh, held an Adorn-a-Rickshaw contest today (June 16) as a tribute to the iconic rickshaw of Bangladesh as well as to provide a venue to showcase the richness and colors of Philippine festivals and to highlight the talent and skills of the Filipinos in Bangladesh.
In celebration of Filipino ingenuity and creativity, members of the three Filipino community organizations in Bangladesh adorned three rickshaws based on the Philippine festival that each organization had previously selected as the theme of their design.
The Philippine festivals represented in the contest are: 1) Panagbenga Festival – a flower festival which is celebrated in Baguio City, a city located in the northern part of the Philippines, to pay tribute to the season of blooming flowers in the city; 2) Masskara Festival - borne out of the endeavor to uplift the spirits of locals following twin crises of famine and tragedy, the mask of smiling faces worn to celebrate this festival in Bacolod City, located in the central part of the Philippines gives it the name of Masskara Festival, which means ‘a multitude of faces’; and, 3) Kadayawan Festival - a week-long harvest and thanksgiving fete celebrated in the city of Davao in the southern part of the Philippines.
The rickshaws that were adorned by the participants in the contest were subsequently featured in the Kalayaan (independence) parade, led by Philippine Ambassador Leo Tito L. Ausan, Jr. The parade brought together an estimated 200 people, which included members of the Filipino community, members of the diplomatic corps, members of Baridhara Society, the private sector, and other rickshaws within the Baridhara Diplomatic Zone.
The Philippine Society in Bangladesh (PSB) won the first prize, with their rickshaw adorned based on the theme of the Masskara Festival. The second prize went to Philippine-Bangladesh Association (PBA) and the Filipino Grand Alliance in Bangladesh (FGAB) organization took home the third prize. “The winning design is very colorful and creative,” said Indonesian Ambassador Heru Hartano Subolo, one of the four esteemed judges of the contest, which also included Mr. Feroz Hassan, President of the Baridhara Society, Mr. Imran Kadir of The Daily Star, and Ambassador Ausan.
While seemingly a lowly and humble form of transportation, the rickshaw is a ubiquitous fixture in the streets of Bangladesh that are sometimes blamed for traffic snarls. Same with the jeepneys in the Philippines, the rickshaw has been an iconic representation of the Bangladeshi society. The adornment of the rickshaws based on Philippine festivals is a symbolic fusion of the cultures of the two nations, both of which have the similar cultures of resilience, close family ties, gratitude, creativity, and resourcefulness. Even as it will highlight the innate and untapped potential as tourist attractions.
The Philippine Ambassador, a staunch believer in opportunity in adversity, hopes that the event will mark the further deepening of the relations between the Philippines and Bangladesh and will inspire both Filipinos and Bangladeshis to exude the valuable traits that make them who they are as peoples. Ambassador Ausan foresees that the Embassy’s featuring of the potential of the rickshaw as an attraction on the city streets of Dhaka will attract corporate sponsorships in the coming years and will eventually lead to an annual rickshaw festival in Dhaka that will attract tourists the world over.