Have you attended a royal event? Together with fellow Filipino travel blogger Julius of Lakwatserong Tsinelas, I had the special privilege of attending the 10th anniversary luncheon of the Sultan Mizan Royal Foundation (Yayasan DiRaja Tuanku Mizan) held last October 1st in Terengganu, Malaysia. The landmark occasion not only celebrated the achievements of the foundation for the past decade but also friendship and cultural exchange across the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) region as the sector has grown exponentially within the region.
The Sultan Mizan Royal Foundation is a charitable organization which was officially launched by His Royal Highness Sultan of Terengganu, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, with the objective of promoting economic and social development, particularly through arts, cultural, heritage, natural environment protection, tourism and various social services. The luncheon was held at the Kenyir Elephant Village, a conservation project supported by the royal foundation. This elephant sanctuary is located along Kenyir Lake, the largest manmade lake in Southeast Asia.
Beside the dining area, there were booths set up to showcase the ASEAN countries. There was also a delegation from Kunming, China. Unfortunately, there was no booth for two ASEAN countries, Myanmar and the Philippines. On display were native products from the participating countries which included textile, jewelry, souvenirs, woodwork and other handicrafts.
Graced by no less than Sultan Mizan himself, the intimate event began with His Royal Highness Sultan Mizan and the entourage touring the facilities of the elephant sanctuary before arriving in the tented dining area for the main program, which consisted of cultural performances, presentation of gifts from the ASEAN ambassadors and the symbolic donation of the Sultan in support of the Kenyir Elephant Village. Among the cultural dances performed was an ASEAN ensemble performed by local dancers and a “peacock dance” by a solo performer from Kunming, China.
Keeping with the theme Pesona Terengganu (Terengganu Charm) of Tourism Terengganu, the media participants also visited some of the top tourist attractions of Terengganu during our stay such as the Crystal Mosque (Masjid Kristal), Kampung Cina, Pasar Payang and Butterfly Island and Lasir Falls at Kenyir Lake. This was my third visit to Terengganu after having attended two International Squid Jigging Festivals and I’m still in awe of this less-visited state’s natural, historical and cultural wonders, which I hope more Filipinos and other Southeast Asians will get to experience for themselves.