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MACC & ME (Malaysian Embassy)

By Santiago Diokno

As the media gather round for dinner in the multifold celebration of  Iftar on the 23rd day of the Ramadan at the Rumah Malaysia, the residence of H.E. Ambassador Dato’ Abdul Malik Melvin Castelino in Makati. Philippines,  Macc couldn’t miss the chance of a close encounter with the sacred culture of Malaysia in the practice of Muslim traditions, most especially the observance of Iftar in the period of Ramadan.

This year’s Iftar event at the Embassy of Malaysia is especially meaningful as it marks the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Malaysia and the Philippines. Over the past six decades, both nations have nurtured a relationship built on mutual respect, understanding, and cooperation, spanning various sectors such as trade, education, and security. The Embassy takes immense pride in celebrating this milestone alongside the cherished month of Ramadan, highlighting the shared values and enduring friendship between our two countries.


Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is a period of profound spiritual significance for Muslims worldwide. It commemorates the month in which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, marking a time of fasting, reflection, and community.

Muslims fast from dawn until sunset, abstaining from food, drink, and other physical needs. This act of fasting is one of the Five Pillars of Islam, intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate.


The Iftar, or the meal with which the fast is broken at sunset, is a moment of joy and celebration, shared with family, friends, and the community. It begins with the eating of dated and is followed by a prayer and a meal. This tradition not only embodies the spirit of Ramadan but also fosters a sense of belonging and unity among those who participate.

The event is an opportunity for members of the media to engage in cultural exchange, deepen their understanding of Islamic traditions, and partake in the breaking of the fast in an atmosphere of camaraderie and goodwill, whilst savouring an exquisite spread of traditional Malaysian Ramadan delicacies. In Malaysia it is celebrated with people of all faiths.


Throughout this special year, the Embassy has organised and has lined up numerous programmes and events encapsulating the multiple facets of Malaysia-Philippines relations. Recently, we had organised the 60th Anniversary of Malaysia-Philippines Bilateral Relations logo design competition and had announced Mr. Jayven Villamater as the winner, winning PHP35,500 and a roundtrip ticket from Manila to Kuala Lumpur.


With trade and investment being a key component of our bilateral relations, the Embassy is focused on driving growth for Malaysia and the Philippines focusing on targeted sectors which include infrastructure (construction and building materials), digitalization and halal.


Recognising the opportunities in growing infrastructure and development projects in the Philippines, the Embassy under its Trade Office, MATRADE Manila has coordinated the Mid-Tier Market Immersion Mission from 12 – 15 March 2024. During the immersion, a total of 5 Malaysian Mid-Tier Companies from the construction and building materials sector participated in the immersion in Davao and Manila. Programmes that were arranged by MATRADE Manila include Seminar on Doing Business with Malaysia, site visit to National Government Administrative Centre in New Clark City, engagements with Philippine partners at the Philippine World Building and Construction Expo (WORLDBEX)

2024 Manila and networking sessions with relevant authorities, associations and industry players. This is part of MATRADE’s efforts to establish and strengthen the presence of Malaysian companies in the Philippines.


In addition, the Embassy also collaborated with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) back in March 2024 to organize DEX Connex focusing on ICT and digitalization, to support Malaysian tech companies’ growth in the Philippine market and foster collaborative relationships between high-tech firms in both countries. The two-day programme, held at the Embassy in Manila, saw the participation of 35 Malaysian AND high-tech companies who engaged with 50 potential partners and Chief Information Officers (CIOs) in the Philippines.



As for the halal sector, the Embassy is now actively promoting the Malaysia International Halal Showcase (MIHAS) which will be held from 17 – 20 September 2024 in Kuala Lumpur. Last year, nearly 40,000 trade visitors from 100 countries attended the event in Kuala Lumpur. From food & beverages, cosmetics, halal ingredients, Muslim-friendly tourism, Islamic finance and fintech as well as modest fashion and lifestyle, MIHAS covers the entire spectrum of the Islamic lifestyle demands. The trade office of the Embassy is currently actively recruiting Philippine buyers and exhibitors to participate in MIHAS. For more details on the event, please contact [email protected].


The recent launching of the Philippine Halal Industry Development Strategic Plan 2024-2028 by the Department of Trade and Industry will create a harmonious synergy among the halal industry players, certification bodies and relevant government departments.

Such collaboration promises to spark innovation, generate business opportunities and propel the success of the Halal MSMEs in the Philippines in the domestic and global market.


The signing of MoU between DTI and Halal Expo Philippines is a significant stride forward.  This collaboration will undoubtedly enhance the new Halal-friendly Philippines brand, drawing more investments from the global halal industry players. Malaysia, recognizing the potential for collaboration, is more than willing to extend its expertise to the Philippines , namely the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Tourism, local Government Units and others, in offering support in market access and capacity building training.


The Embassy is also beaming with pride as Maybank, Malaysia’s largest bank, will be opening its first Islamic bank branch in Zamboanga later this year.


In regards to tourism, Malavsia recorded a total of 20.1 million international tourist arrivals and RM71.3 bilion in tourist receipts in 2023, surpassing its initial target of 16.1 million arrivals.  This year, Malaysia aims to woo 27.3 million arrivals with RM102.7 billion in tourism revenue. Philippines was top ten contributor to the arrival to Malaysia with 339,282 number of tourists.



This year, Tourism Malaysia is also ramping up its efforts to attract Filipino tourists. A sales mission in May will see them partnering with airlines and tour operators to boost arrivals. Filipinos  can also expect to connect with Tourism Malaysia throughout the year at the annual Malaysia Week and a travel expo in September.

As a multicultural haven, Tourism Malaysia is particularly excited to showcase Malaysia’s offerings for Filipino travelers, including Muslim-friendly holidays ideal for culturally-sensitive experiences, family vacations perfect for creating lasting memories, and world-class MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) facilities for unforgettable business events. Beyond that, will dive in more to upcoming trends such as high-quality and affordable medical tourism options, diverse shopping experiences that capture the essence of Malaysian lifestyle, and a tantalizing gastronomic journey through the country’s rich culinary traditions.


Recognising the importance of people to people ties, on 26 February 2024, the Embassy of Malaysia in Manila, in collaboration with Tourism Malaysia, Artdialogo Asia Founding Artist & CEO Ms. Anna Karina Jardin and the Department of Education’s Schools Division of Malabon, organised a cross cultural art program named SENISWELA at the Tinajeros National Highschool in Malabon City. Through the programme, the participants were able to gain exposure and developed a better understanding of the world around them, including self and cultural awareness, as well as to learn to appreciate the similarities and differences of Malaysia and the Philippines’ shared heritage. 


A taste of Malaysian cuisine in June 

Malaysia-Philippines Food and Cultural Bazaar

The Embassy is also excited to roll out an array of other events throughout the year, including the Malaysia-Philippines Food and Cultural Bazaar in June,


+art exhibition comprising talented renowned as well as up and coming Malaysian and Filipino artists 

+ a track two symposium,

+ a shooting competition with the Philippines National Police (PNP),

+ the annual Malaysia Friendship Golf Open and many more. 

an art exhibition comprising talented renowned as well as up and coming Malaysian and Filipino artists in July, a track two symposium, a shooting competition with the Philippines National Police (PNP), the annual Malaysia Friendship Golf Open and many more. This is of course, with the collaboration and support of our friends at DTI, DOT, LGUs, PNP and many others whom have been nothing but supportive towards the cause of the Embassy.




Travel expo in September 

Filipinos can also expect to connect with Tourism Malaysia throughout the year at the annual Malaysia Week and a travel expo in September.


Overall, it looks to be an eventful year for the Embassy as we aptly celebrate the longstanding beautiful relationship we have shared with the Philippines for 60 years, with the hopes of many more years to come. To make it even more sweeter, Malaysia will also be gearing up to take up the helm of ASEAN in 2025, making it a double celebration.


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