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HK visitors get VIP access

THE Philippines Pavilion provided VIP entrance to Hong Kong visitors and turned down background music in a show of sympathy yesterday for the eight Hong Kong tourists who were killed in a hostage standoff in Manila on Monday.

Hong Kong Pavilion officials and staff members held a moment of silence in the pavilion for the victims yesterday at 8am.

"We want to express our condolences and apologies to the victims and their families," Tess Maricio, manager of the Philippines Pavilion, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

She said she hoped visitors from all over the world, especially Hong Kong, could visit the pavilion to learn that Filipinos are good people.

"This incident has really saddened Filipino people because we are friendly, happy and peace loving people, and this is what the pavilion wants to show the world," she said.

People from Hong Kong can enter the pavilion directly after making a reservation by e-mail or phone call to the pavilion. This privilege was previously only for VIP visitors.

The pavilion has also tuned down the background music at its three stages. This will continue for about a week. The performances will continue because they are major attractions representing the country's culture.

The pavilion's theme is "Performing Cities." Traditional songs and dances are held every 10 minutes on the three stages. The performances will not be shortened because it would be unfair to visitors who come to the pavilion to see the country's culture and entertainment, Maricio added.

Maricio said she hopes Chinese visitors will continue to visit the pavilion and not connect the hostage incident with the Expo because the Expo's core spirit is about peace and friendship.

The manager said the pavilion had a dozen young staff workers and guides whose ancestors were from China, which symbolized the deep connection between the two countries.

The pavilion attracts about 42,000 visitors every day and that has not changed since the hostage incident.

"Even if the number declines, we can fully understand it because that is human emotion," Maricio said.

Cheung Jingxin, media officer of the Hong Kong Pavilion, told Shanghai Daily they will hold no further mourning activities in order to ensure the smooth operation of the pavilion.


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