Last 21 October 2018, about sixty student delegates and school administrators from schools in the Philippines and the People’s Republic of China visited the Ateneo de Davao University, Jacinto campus, as the school tour stop of the Mindanao leg of the China-Philippines Friendship Tour, organized by the consulates of both countries.
Below is a copy of the speech delivered by one of the Filipino delegates, Ms. Nina Patricia Cesar, from Davao City, at the China-Philippines Youth Party last 31 October 2018.
To the leaders of China and to the delegates of this friendship tour, good evening. I am Nina Patricia Cesar, a Filipino delegate from Davao City.
Before I went on to this trip, I was curious about China, their traditions, and their practices. I was anxious of what might happen since I’m far away from home. And I did not know what to expect. I wasn’t even sure about the weather in the different cities.
My ignorance even came to a point where my friends who’ve been to China kept on preparing me for what to expect, what to try, what not to do.
But to say that I enjoyed the surprises and the beauty I’ve seen, is an understatement. Because of all the things that I’ve experienced this 2018, this Friendship Tour was the greatest plot twist of my graduating year.
Just a little background, back when I was in 2nd year college, I wished I could go to an all-expense paid out of the country trip. And so, I applied to a handful of programs and opportunities but sadly, I did not qualify for those.
I thought that it was just not meant to be. But God had a different plan. It was His plans that brought me here and I could say that I am very blessed.
This friendship tour allowed me to appreciate both my country and China. I learned more about our histories and the points where they intertwined. But more than those, I was able to build good friendships. Friendships that were more than just ni hao. Friendships that stood by me when I was down.
Most of you may not know, but just last October 29, my grandfather died. And I felt really helpless because I cannot go home immediately. It was so hard trying to hide everything I felt. Even when there were resources, there were no available flights that would bring me home in an instant. But, it was my friends here in this tour that stood by me. To Yao who helped me find flights, to Tong who hugged me, and to Hua who constantly offered a helping hand, xie xie ni. To my Filipino friends, the power rangers, our two mamas, our Cebu and Manila friends, thank you so much.
But, it was not just me who has experienced this. I remember how we all flocked to Ryan when he tripped and broke his ankle. I remember how AJ was comforted by the sweet words of our Chinese friends, and the comforting touches of the Filipinos. And I remember how we patiently explained to each other our different cultures and taught each other our languages. Maayong buntag as zao an. Salamat as xie xie. And James as jiang lao da.
Kidding aside, I guess what I’m saying here is that more than the sceneries, and the histories that we’ve learned, the most important thing is that we were able to build friendships and relationships that goes beyond the tour. If we could build this individually, we could build this collectively. We are the future of China and the Philippines. And I must say, there is a bright future filled with respect, development, hope and peace for our countries.
Because of the friendships I’ve built, I could say that I am ending this trip with my curiosity filled with even more interest in learning about China, with my anxiety gone because of the friendships we’ve built and with my expectations exceeded.
The most common feeling that we all have right now is the gratitude of being able to try a lot of things (which I cannot enumerate as it may take me 10 hours, James will get angry).
And so I must say, wo men zhongguo ren de pengyou, xie xie ni. And see you soon as we build a better China, a better Philippines, and better China-Philippines relations as good friends who care for each other. Good evening.