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Tunnel in Belgium Named After Igorot
A new tunnel that was opened in Belgium recently now bears the name of an Igorot who was featured in the World’s Fair there almost 100 years ago.
Philippine Ambassador to Belgium Enrique Manalo led the ribbon-cutting ceremony to open “Timichegtunnel” at the St. Pieter’s Train Station in Ghent on May 5.
“The tunnel, named after an Igorot called Timicheg, was made possible through a Ghent City Council resolution passed in 2007 that intended to commemorate the Ghent World’s Exhibition of 1913 through naming streets and tunnels after notable participants of this historical event,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a news release posted on its website on Friday.
The Timichegtunnel is part of a long-term infrastructure development plan of the Ghent St. Pieters train station and its environs. The tunnel is expected to be completed by 2020.
“Let the naming of this tunnel be a positive symbol of the recognition of human-centered development and a celebration of cultural diversity through non-exploitative means by the international community,” Manalo said.
The DFA said Timicheg shares the honor of having a specific place named after him with prominent Belgian personalities of that time, such as Oscar de Voorde and Valentin Verwyck.
De Voorde and Verwyck were renowned architects of Old Flanders who made significant contributions to the Expo.
However, the story of Timicheg, one of 54 Filipinos from Bontoc, Mountain Province who participated in the “Filipino Village” of the 1913 Ghent Expo, did not end on a happy note.
He unfortunately died of tuberculosis four months upon his arrival in the city.
The DFA said after the Expo in Ghent, the rest of his companions lingered on in the city until December 1913, “apparently because no funds could be raised to bring them back home, until the United States government provided the support.”
After that experience, such kind of “exotic peoples’ display” was banned from World Fairs, the DFA added.
“It was commendable that the City of Ghent has not only chosen to celebrate the achievements relating to the 1913 Expo, but has been able to balance this by commemorating those who experienced difficulties to participate in this event,” Manalo said during the ceremony.
According to the DFA, those present during the opening ceremony included Ghent Mayor Daniel Termont, ranking officials of NMBS-Holding, VVM De Lijn and Infrabel Network, private sector partners of the “Project Ghent St. Pieters,” as well as members of the press.
Source: GMA News