A TOP official of the Indonesian Consulate General in Mindanao said the 56-year-old consular relations between the Republic of Indonesia and the Philippines is now more mature and stronger though it will continue to be full of challenges.

Speaking during the 65th Indonesian Independence Day celebration at the Marco Polo Hotel Davao on Tuesday, Consul General Lalu Malik Partawana said since the establishment of consular relations in 1954, the bilateral ties have continuously developed due to the aggressive efforts of the two countries.

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"Bilateral relations between Indonesia and the Philippines, most particularly between the BIMP-Eaga areas, have already been strong and vibrant. Exchanges and cooperation in various fields such us trade and economic, culture and education, tourism and securities supervision have intensified," Partawana said.

Indonesia, through its consulate general, wants to make use of the 56 years anniversary of the establishment of consular relation between the two countries as an opportunity and new starting point to intensify exchanges and cooperation with the Philippines most particularly with Mindanao, he added.

Partawana also cited the planned sisterhood agreement between Davao City and Manado.

"Apart from increasingly official visits, the intensity of the relationship between citizens from two nations is even more intensive. The exchange programs involving officials, businessmen, and students could help reduce misunderstanding or negative opinion between people from the two countries," he added.

Partawana also expressed elation for being declared by the Davao City Council on March 9, 2010, as an "Adopted Son of Davao".

"For me, the awarding of that title was the culmination of my duties as Consul General in Mindanao for three years now," said Partawana, who ends his term today.

Partawana, who served as Indonesian Consul General to the Philippines since August 2007, said Mindanao is the most memorable diplomatic/consular post for him. He said Mindanao is a beautiful part of the Philippines and his stint in the island seems to be the most inspiring mission ever.

"I have to be honest that in some ways, I feel that a lot of my career has been preparing me for this assignment. I found that very consuming, absorbing, impressive and positive period to posting here in Mindanao," he said.

"Professionally, for me as an Indonesian diplomat, this is an extraordinary rich and satisfying posting. I think the time has come, three years, and I have my children missing me so much in Jakarta, but in terms of this experience for me, this is really the best ever. I will miss a million things here," he said. (Gigie Arcilla-Agtay)