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Roots&Wings CULTURE



Nr 13



A quarterly online magazine for Filipinos in Europe, published by Rachel Publishing Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Its aim is (1) to uplift, create awareness and appreciation of Filipino culture and lifestyle (2) to serve as a bridge to lessen the gap between the expatriate communities of Filipinos living in various parts of Europe (3) to highlight touristic and historical places of interest in our home country in order to encourage and enhance local travel, tourism and commerce.



The Filipino Online Magazine in Europe

WINTER 2012/2013

We invite our kababayans in Europe to contribute articles on * Cultural Issues * Cultural Events * Places * Travel * Nature * Career Achievement * Business Development * Job & Study possibilities * Life- Enrichment projects , etc * Other relevant articles on books, movies, fashion, design, food *



Please attach high quality photographs in jpg-format We are looking for Bureau Editors in Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Amsterdam, Reykjavik, Berlin, Edinburgh, Dublin and other cities in Europe Please send materials to our Editor in Chief Rachel Hansen at

NEW STAFF MEMBERS Milagros F.Viernes Bureau Editor, Athens, Greece Milagros F. Viernes holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines, Diliman. She worked at the Natural Resources Management Center (NRMC), an attached agency of the Philippine Department of Natural Resources as a writer/editor of its Public Information Office. Her duties included the conceptualization and printing of information materials and the production of audiovisual presentations for the agency’s clientele.When NRMC was merged with the National Mapping and Resource Information Authority (NAMRIA), she was appointed as Information Officer V to take charge of the Media Production Division. As Division Chief, she supervised the projects of the Editorial, Media Relations and Audiovisual sections. She retired after 29 fruitful years in government to join her friend at the Philippine Embassy in Greece as her Private Staff. She loves meeting people, and plays the piano.



Dear Kababayans


Artist in Focus - Lolita Valderrama Savage

12 20


Diplomatic Profile – Ambassador Virgilio A Reyes Jr ENFiD – European Network of Filipino Diaspora


D2D Declaration in Rome


CFO Schedules 2nd Global Summit in Manila Feb 2013


An Enchanted Evening in Brussels


Meet Michael Cu – piano virtuoso in Brussels




CONTENTS WINTER 2012/2013 43


It is snowing as I write this and I am getting ready for the second monthly Skype conference of the adhoc members of the ENFiD or the European Network of Filipino Diaspora. ENFiD was born last September 29, 2012, at around 6 pm, at the closing session of the 1st Filipino Europe-wide D2D (Diaspora to Dialogue) conference in Rome. The conference itself was the most exciting, exhilarating, extensive meeting ever, attended by some 250 Pinoys representing various groups and organizations and initiated by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas and participated by a host of prominent European and international guest speakers, ambassadors, archbishops, generous sponsors, and happy volunteers. Preparations are now underway to register ENFiD; the idea is to send one Pinoy from each European country to represent their community in the ENFiD Council. We will update you about ENFiDs progress in future issues of R&W.



Philippine Furniture in Greece


Philippine Mission in Greece conducts health screening


Tracing the Roots of Czech Filipino friendship


F.A.R. celebrates 25 years jubilee


Mutya Ng Pilipinas Scandinavia presents finalists in Stockholm


Stephanie Reese – Miss Standing Ovation


Ma-Anne Dionisio in Swedish musical


Travelogue by Pavel Vondra

Many thanks to all the movers and shakers, but most of all to Madame Marie Luarca Reyes, CFO Chair Imelda Nicolas, Atty Ted Laguatan, Atty Loida Nicolas Lewis for their untiring, dauntless, contagious enthusiasm and optimism. Indeed when passionate hearts, minds, and hands join together and commit themselves to pursue a common mission and vision for their country and their people, a paradigm shift takes place that leads to a better life if not a new world order. There is more to come. The 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora will take place in Manila in February 2013. This is a golden opportunity for us to learn, to share, to be empowered, to meet new friends. Looking forward to seeing you there. Cover: Painting by Lolita Valderrama Savage

We say “molto grazie” to Philippine Ambassador to Italy, Virgilio A. Reyes Jr, for taking time

out of his super busy schedule to share with us his inspiring views, insights and experiences. Discovering, promoting, and exposing Filipino art and culture in Europe are the themes of our song at Roots&Wings. In this issue, we are sooo proud to share with you the artworks of our most global artist, Lolita Valderrama Savage. Read about Lolita’s exciting life as artist, wife, mother, community worker. With the fast approaching New Year 2013, let us try to set aside more time to culture and other artistic activities. Because culture is actually good for our health – providing positive effects on the brain, boosting our immune defense system, increasing our tolerance against stress, improving creativity and mindfulness, adding meaning and a sense of belonging to our lives. Ergo, let us have more music, more dance, more visits to museums, operas and concert halls, more nature walks, more literature and films, for a long, vibrant and colorful life. And above all these, service to God, country and fellowmen… Filipinos in diaspora, unite!

Rachel Hansen 5

straight off the trees. She looked forward to trips to La Union where she could be close to the beach and she relished the adventure of finding giant snakes in Ilocos Norte while wandering the farmlands.

Lolita Valderrama Savage Our Filipino Global Artist

She fondly remembers the Fernando Amorsolo paintings depicted in the San Miguel corporation calendars they had at home. She loved the idyllic rural scenes with beautiful women. As for Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion-Hidalgo, they inspired her to visit other countries and reinforced her belief that the Filipino artist could be as good, if not better, than artists from Western Europe or any part of the world. Jose Rizal is, however, her biggest hero – he inspired her to learn as many languages – “Global yet local, Lolita says, “I love my country, I take my country with me wherever I go. You can’t fail when you take your country with you because you are not just failing yourself:”

Lolita’s mentor, the well-respected Italian painter, Silvio Loffredo (who himself was mentored by the great Expressionist Oskar Kokoschka) describes Lolita’s landscapes as creating a “little paradise… an open gentle world that one will always remember.” In Lolita’s words “when you commune with nature, you can reflect about existence and ask why you’re here”. From Italy, the wind transported Lolita to Sweden where she studied with the Swedish painter, Staffan Hallström (whose works form part of NYCs Museum of Modern Art collection). Why Sweden? Her Scandinavian friends convinced her that nature was more captivating there. Lolita stayed in Eskilstuna (a town about an hour away from Stockholm) where she’d walk to the woods every day to paint and sometimes get lost. “It’s wonderful to be lost!” Lolita did not think she’d stay in Sweden for several years

by: Dominique Gallego After finishing her Fine Arts degree from the University of Santo Tomas in the ´70s, the wind whisked Lolita to Florence where she studied painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti as an Italian government scholar, cutting short a budding teaching career at U.S.T. Today, her paintings grace the collections of film director Spike Lee, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab, Nobel Prize winner Manfred Eigen, Connecticut Governor Dannell Malloy, a UK Member of Parliament, the 6

Indian industrialist Hinduja family, a few fortunate Filipino collectors and the list goes on. At three and a half years old, Lolita attached herself to drawing. In her high school yearbook, she officially pronounced she would be a painter. Nature would eventually become her choice model. Growing up in Manila, she often stared at the sky, pondering about the heaven. When visiting Bulacan she always played in the mango orchards and picked fruit 7

but she did “because of the peace of pure nature” (Her Scandinavian friends were apparently right). Two of her top three favorite paintings are of Sweden – one in winter (a snow-blessed rural landscape with a series of “Stugor”, or red cabins, in the far distance) and Path to the Woods (a lush summer forest scene with a path evoking mystery which I mistook for some tropical place; a souvenir of her days in Eskilstuna). Among nature’s blessings, she also favors the sunset “when the perfectly round sun tears itself away from the passionate embrace of the clouds, causing fire as it descends to kiss the silent horizon.” For Lolita however, “marriage and art… were both vocations. Thirty years and three grown-up children later, it’s


wonderful that Frank, her husband mentions that one of his favorite paintings by Lolita is the very same Swedish winter landscape that Lolita selected as one of her three favorites (loving hearts do think alike!). Lolita’s art is also an integral part of her children’s lives. Lolita’s favorite medium is oil on canvass although she does wonderful watercolors and pen and ink, too. She has also experimented with portraiture. Her style is Impressionistic (despite the fact that her mentors were influenced by Expressionism) and very tactile (her paintings are eye candy: you want to touch them). When you meet her, you’ll instantly recognize the same positive (ranging from restful to vibrant) energy

here paintings convey. My favorite painting is L’Automme a Roussillon which reminds me of Albert Camus´ words “in the midst of winter, I have found within me an invincible summer”. Lolita first exhibited in 1975 in Florence, Italy. She’s also the first Filipina to have lived and painted in Scandinavia and to have had a solo exhibition in Stockholm. Her paintings have been exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in the U.K. and at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She has also been sponsored by the Commune of Florence to exhibit at the Museum of Dante Alighieri. She has ventured to the North Pole to draw. To Lolita, “artists are born, not made” and “painting means exercising a gift, a gift to be shared”, something “to give joy” and “that must be useful and beneficial to others,” Lolita acknowledges that she

and Frank have been blessed and because of this, she has utilized her art to help others. She first became actively involved in charities while her children were in school and noticed that fundraising was always a big challenge. So for many years now, she has used her art to help raise funds for needy children, public education and entities that support artists like the Foundation fro Filipino Artists, Inc. As an admirer of St. Francis of Assisi, she reminds me, “it’s better to give than to receive.” She dedicates her paintings not only to family and friends, but also to the “universal force that unites us together to learn about, understand, and love one another, through the beauty of art”. She plans to continue creating and helping others. She hopes that she can inspire and help young artists to dare to dream and allow themselves to be carried by the wind of life.


Lolita is married to American businessman, Frank Savage, an international investor, sailboat racer and author of The Savage Way: Successfully Navigating the Waves of Business & Life. You may check The Savage Way on Facebook or view videos on under Meet Frank Savage‌ or The Savage Way‌ The book can be ordered in hardcover or as an Ebook at or www. Lolita and Frank have three grown children. Fredrik Antoine, Grace Erlinda and Frank Alexander. Lolita divides her time between their homes in Florence, Italy and New York City. Last year, in February 2011, after 38 years, Lolita went back to Manila and exhibited at the Ayala Museum and at the University of Santo Tomas Museum. Aside from her native tongue Tagalog, Lolita was formally trained to speak English, Spanish, Italian, French, German and Swedish.



Diplomatic profile

Diplomatic profile

His Excellency Virgilio A. Reyes, Jr. is the Philippine Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary to Italy since November 2011, with concurrent jurisdiction over Albania & San Marino. He is also the Philippine Permanent Representative to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); World Food Programme (WFP); and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Ambassador Virgilio A. Reyes, Jr. has also served as Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary in Pretoria, South Africa with jurisdiction over eight other countries, 2003-2009; Minister & Consul General at the Philippine Embassy, Santiago, Chile, 1998-2000; Minister Counselor & Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Mexico, 1997-1998; Minister Counselor & Consul General at the Philippine Embassy in Yangon, Myanmar 1994-1997; Third Secretary, then Second Secretary, later First Secretary, at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, New York, 19831991. Ambassador Virgilio A Reyes with his wife Marie Luarca Reyes

Diplomatic Profile: Ambassador

Virgilio A. Reyes, Jr. 12

He also served in various capacities at the Home Office: As Director of the China Division of the Asia-Pacific Affairs Office as well as Vice-Director of Ceremonials in the Office of Protocol and Special Assistant for Foreign Affairs to Secretary Carlos P. Romulo. He also worked as Executive Director of the Office of Policy Planning and Coordination, Special Assistant in the

Office of the Undersecretary for Special Projects and Executive Director of the Center for Ocean and Maritime Affairs (MOAC). His last position was Assistant Secretary for Middle East and African Affairs at the DFA (2009-2011). Ambassador Reyes holds a BA in Humanities, Cum Laude, from the Ateneo de Manila University, and Masters degrees in Communications from the University of the Philippines, and in Government & Politics from the St. John's University in New York. He was the first Filipino to graduate from the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna in 1977. He also completed postgraduate studies at the University of Paris XI, and the International Institute of Public Administration at the University of Santiago in Chile. Aside from English and Filipino, Ambassador Reyes speaks Spanish, French, German, and has basic knowledge of Italian, Russian, Burmese and Afrikaans. He has authored and edited various books: (1) In the National Interest: Issues on Disarmaments (2) The Philippine Revolution and (3) The "Gloria" by Husing Batute which received honors as the National Book Award in 2004. Ambassador Reyes is married to Ma. Felisa Arellano-Luarca, and they have one child.


Diplomatic profile

ROOTS&WINGS is grateful for the opportunity to interview HE Ambassador Virgilio A Reyes, Jr. Why and when did you decide to become a diplomat? In 1975 (having already spent 3 years as a student and worker in Europe), I was accepted as the first Filipino at the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna, a venerable institution of 250 years founded by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria. I completed the course in February 1977, and I then decided to go back to the Philippines, that year I took up the Foreign Service exams for Philippine diplomats in 1978. Fortunately I passed the exam and the rest is history. I have been with the Philippine Foreign Service for 33 years now. Can you tell us some highlights in your career so far? I have been lucky to be assigned to such places as the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York, Myanmar, Mexico, Chile and South Africa. In the last post I was Ambassador and accredited as non-resident Ambassador to nine countries including Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, Swaziland, Lesotho, Namibia and Botswana. I have been privileged to serve one year now in Italy, with accreditation to Albania and San Marino. The Foreign Service has allowed me myriad experiences and exposures, including meeting Daw Aung San Suu Kyi in 1995 during my assignment in 14

Diplomatic profile

Myanmar (Burma), encountering the late Indira Gandhi in Cancun, Mexico and seeing such worthies as Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton as well as world figures in the UN and elsewhere. I have thus far served six Philippine Presidents.

Lamberto Dini last October 19, 2012 in Rome for general talks on economic cooperation and the situation of Filipinos in Italy.

What is your opinion about the relations in general between the Philippines and Italy? Relations have never been better. This year as we celebrated 65 years of PhilippineItalian diplomatic relations, we celebrated Independence Day (June 12) at the Hotel Excelsior in Rome as well as in Milan, Florence and other venues where many groups of the estimated 170, 000 Filipinos in Italy live.

In addition, I am leading a 25-member delegation of Italian businessmen headed by Paolo Zegna from 20 to 24 November in Manila to further the possibilities of Italian-Filipino business cooperation in trade and investment.

We featured as part of our celebration the famous Filipino chef, Margarita Fores as well as the CCP President, renowned pianist Raul Sunico. We highlighted the flower artistry of Fil-Italian Efren Dordas as well as our compatriot sculptor Richard Gabriel from Milan. This year, we had the first Filipino Filmfest featured in the Macro Testaccio Asia Film Mediale. Recently we had political exchanges at the highest levels – President Benigno S. Aquino III and Prime Minister Mario Monti met on November 6, 2012 at the sidelines of ASEM9 in Vientiane to discuss bilateral concerns. Vice President Jejomar C. Binay met with Italian Senator

We hope to sign important agreements this year on labor and finance.

It is indeed a banner year! This year, Pedro Calungsod was canonized as the second Filipino saint on 21 October, an occasion graced by our Vice President Jejomar Binay and other Filipino leaders. We are in discussion for broader and deeper cooperation on defense matters. In January 2012, Philippine Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin visited Italy and met with his counterpart, Italian Defense Minister Giampaolo De Paola, who reciprocated with a visit to Manila in June 2012. We are also currently negotiating a bilateral Labor Agreement with Italy. In June 2012, Philippine Labor and Employment Undersecretary Danilo Cruz met with Italian Secretary for Labor and Social Policies Ma. Cecilia Guerra, in Rome, for discussions on the draft agreement which will hopefully conclude soon.

What about economic relations between the Philippines and Italy? I have always regarded the listing of the Philippines in the Italian Blacklist of Fiscal Paradise as a major impediment to the strengthening of Philippine-Italy trade and investment relations. I am thus pleased with the recent development where the relevant authorities of both countries have come to an agreement on a text of a Draft Protocol to Amend the Bilateral Convention on the Avoidance of Double Taxation. The signing of the Protocol will pave the way for the delisting of the Philippines from the blacklist and, as I said earlier, shall definitely usher in a more revitalized economic engagement between the Philippines and Italy. To ensure such a revitalization, we are bringing to the Philippines this coming November 2012 an Italian Business Mission composed of 20-25 companies engaged in various sectors, such as, among others, renewable energy, industrial processes and production, infrastructure, construction, design, agriculture and food and beverages. For the period 2007 to 2011, total trade with Italy grew by 8.28% as modest growths of exports and imports were also recorded. Since 2008, balance of trade remained in the favor of the Philippines except in 2011 when PH exports plunged to 17.23%. Imports, on the other hand, rebounded to 42.44%. The export drop in 2011 can be attributed to the weaker demand in the electronic sector.


Diplomatic profile

Top major exports sector in 2011 were: electronics (25.04% share), coconut oils (15.83%), fashion accessories (8.71%), garments/textiles (7.34%), metal manufactures (7.27%), transport (6-85%), marine/aquaculture (6.02%), processed food (2.76%), minerals (2.28%) and leather and hide/skin (1.87%). Major import items were: machinery (23.30%), pet food/animal feeds (15.82%), electronics (9.59%), pharmaceuticals (8.94%), transport (8.81%), chemicals (4.89%), electrical (3.26%), garments/ textiles (2.84%), processed food (2.83%) and metal manufactures (2.62%). In the field of tourism, I wish to inform that we also plan to contribute to efforts to boost tourism in the country through a possible conduct of a Tourism Mission to the Philippines in 2012. AGREEMENTS SIGNED BETWEEN THE PHILIPPINES AND ITALY 1. Treaty of Friendship and General Relations between the Republic of the Philippines and the Italian Republic (194748) 2. Financial Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Italy (1985) 3. MOU on Social Security between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Italy (1988) 4. Agreement for the Re-Scheduling of Philippine Foreign Debt to Italy 5. MOU on Economic Cooperation 16

Diplomatic profile

between the Republic of the Philippines and the Italian Republic (1988) 6. MOU on the Promotion of Cooperation in the Small and Medium Enterprises (1998) 7. Convention between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the Italian Republic on the Avoidance of Double Taxation with Respect to Taxes on Income and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion (1980) 8. Agreement on Development Cooperation between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Italy (1994) 9. Cultural Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Italy (1994) 10. Memorandum of Understanding between the Republic of the Philippines and the Republic of Italy concerning “Pace e Reconciliazione” (1994) 11. Memorandum of Understanding on Transportation and Communications Cooperation (1998) 12. Memorandum of Understanding concerning the Recognition of Training and Certification of Seafarers for Service on Philippines Flagged Vessels between the Philippines Administration and the Italy Administration 13. Philippines-Italy Memorandum of Understanding concerning the concession for a soft loan for the “Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Project” 14. Philippines-Italy Memorandum of Understanding on Defense Cooperation (2004)

15. Philippines-Italy Readmission Agreement 16. Philippines-Italy Memorandum of Understanding on the Automatic Conversion of Driver’s Licenses (2007) 17. Twinning Program of Exchange and Cooperation Agreement between the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of the Ifugao Rice Terraces and Cinque Terre National Park of Italy 18. Memorandum of Understanding on the Italian Assistance to the Agrarian Reform Community Development Support Program (IARCDSP) 19. Debt-for Development Swap Agreement 20. Agreement on the Encouragement and Reciprocal Protection of Investments (1993)

Philippine culture to Italians but as well as the preservation of Philippine heritage and tradition for Filipinos, particularly the second generation or the youth. The establishment of Centro Rizal in Rome that will host these activities is a project that the Embassy is seriously considering.

How are the Cultural relations? Cultural cooperation between the Philippines and Italy are governed by the Cultural Agreement which was signed on 17 June 1988. Under the Philippine Embassy’s work plan, culture is recognized as an added dimension to Economic Diplomacy thus being promoted as an economic activity. Issues of cultural promotion, tourism and economic diplomacy are closely intertwined. Culture can no longer be rewarded as simply the icing on the cake; it is part of the cake itself which yields euros, dollars and pesos when it is properly presented and craftily utilized .

Based on the Embassy’s work plan and in commemoration of the 65th anniversary, the Embassy crafted a one-year cultural programme which started last June and will continue until December 2013.

The Embassy further aims to implement cultural projects not only for promotion of

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Italy were established on 9 July 1947. The two countries signed in Rome on the same date a Treaty of Friendship and General Relations, which was subsequently ratified on 10 December 1948. The first Philippine Diplomatic Mission to Italy was established on 5 July 1948 as a Legation, and subsequently elevated to the level of an Embassy on 9 August 1956.

As of today, the Embassy successfully organized the following events: Filipino Food Festival featuring Chef Margarita Fores Exhibit of Filipino sculptor Richard Gabriel and Filipino florist Efren Dordas Concert of CCP President Raul Sunico; 2012 Asiatica filmmediale: Focus on Philippine Cinema Presentation of Ms. Patis Tesoro on pińa fiber Publication of a commemorative magazine Supported the concert of Maestro 17

Diplomatic profile

Ruggiero Barbieri, formerly head of Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, in Milan and Florence The following activities will be likewise organized next year: Philippine Film Festival in Cagliari in April as well as in Rome in September Fashion show by world renowned designer, Patis Tesoro, and inaugurate exhibit of her creations using indigenous and natural fibers in June A second edition of Philippine Food Festival may also be incorporated in the celebration featuring Chef Margarita Fores or Glenda Baretto with a local Filipino Chef in June Exhibit on the Twinning Programme of Exchange and Cooperation between the World Heritage Sites of the Rice Terraces of Philippine Cordilleras and the Cinque Terre of Italy in June Cultural Night that will showcase performances by Filipino and Italian artists, such as classical singers, chorale groups, dance troupes, and other artists in September Visual Art Exhibit by National Artist Bencab in October Publication of a commemorative coffee table book What is the approximate number of Filipino citizens living in Italy? As per latest official figures of the Italian Ministry of Interior (as of 29 February 2012), there are 155,945 registered/ documented Filipinos with valid permits of stay in Italy. 18

Diplomatic profile

Said figure excludes the following: • Undocumented Filipinos in Italy which is estimated by the Italian National Institute of Statistics ( at 10% of the number of documented Filipinos, or around 15,500; • Documented Filipinos with expired permits of stay but which are pending renewal, as it could take up to 8 months to renew a permit of stay. Thus, total official number of Filipinos (as per Istat) including the undocumented ones is around 171,445. What is your general opinion of working conditions for Filipinos in Italy? Italy remains to be a labor-friendly destination not only because Italy’s labor laws, regulations and policies are very protective of workers, including migrant workers, providing a generous protective blanket over a wide range of working terms and conditions but also because there are no recorded major problems related to terms and conditions of work and employment related benefits. There are a few complaints regarding lack of provision for day-off resulting in misunderstanding and conflict between employer and worker, unfulfilled promise for support to process regularization papers for those who wanted to take advantage of the recently concluded Sanatoria for undocumented workers in Italy and similar concerns. However, such complaints are rarely pursued since the same are usually amicably settled or the worker just decides to leave the employer and look for another job.

What fields do you consider of particular interest for Filipinos looking for employment /work permits in Italy? Considering that at present employment opportunities open to foreign migrants are in the services sector, Filipinos are constrained to apply for or look for jobs in said sector (domestic helpers, caregivers, utility workers and other unskilled job categories including seasonal work) just to be able to enter Italy. Many of them, however, are professionals or skilled workers particularly nurses, who are much interested to work in the health and medical sector but due to the stringent requirements (undergo two to three years academic studies in order to comply with curriculum deficiencies of the Philippine educational system as compared to the Italian curriculum requirements, Proficiency in the Italian language and passing of the Italian Licensure Examination) aside from having to compete for jobs with Italian nurses, they find it difficult to penetrate the market and so are forced to continue working as household or domestic workers. What opportunities for Filipino students are available at Italian universities? There are varied opportunities available for the Filipino students who want to pursue studies at the university level. The academic opportunity for Filipino students is just the same opportunity given to all interested students. They can take and pursue any courses and degree they may want to and aside from this the different Italian universities are open to offering

‘borsa di studio’ or academic grants or scholarships to deserving students. What is crucial is that a student especially the foreign ones like the Filipinos should know and understand and muster the Italian language. Any special message to the Filipinos in Italy? We are very proud of our kababayans in Italy, who are known for their hard work, patience, family closeness, piety and friendliness. Even the President of Italy, Giorgio Napolitano praised them during my presentation of credentials to him in November 2011, as have countless other Italians. The Filipino overseas workers in Italy are making a strong contribution to our country’s economy and security as well as to Italy’s. The Conference on Diaspora to Dialogue with its Think! Dialogue! Empower! Engage!, held in Rome in September 2012 manifests our group solidarity and highlights the achievements of Filipinos in Europe. Mabuhay!


European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD) by Rachel Hansen ENFiD was born in Rome on September 29, 2012 during the closing session of the First Filipino Europe wide D2D (Diaspora to Dialogue) conference attended by over 250 delegates from various Filipino communities in Europe as well as from many other parts of the globe. 20

The fourteen country representatives spontaneously picked up to form the adhoc committee have been initially tasked to echo the D2D in their respective countries with the purpose of, among others, to choose or elect a county representative to the ENFiD Council with

the primary goal of presenting itself at the 2nd Global Summit for Filipinos in the Diaspora that will be held in Manila in February 2013. A face to face meeting among the adhoc ENFiD members will take place in January 2013. The registration of ENFiD is number one in the agenda, as well as the finalization of the statutes, and its mission and vision. There is much

to be accomplished, the prospects are unlimited, there is nothing to lose, there is much to gain. The Filipinos in Europe are ready for this, in fact, they have been waiting for ENFiD all the time. Congratulations to the ENFiD! Our prayers and best wishes go with you as you embark on this great journey of a stronger, brighter, happier more united Filipinos in Europe. 21

D2D DECLARATION IN ROME We, The 250 delegates of the Filipino Diaspora in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Spain Sweden and Switzerland) and in other countries of the world (Hong Kong, Saipan, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Canada and US), gathered in Rome for the first D2D Conference, held on 2729 September 2012, hereby recommend the following:

and the integration with other migrants and local people in the host societies.

1. The Overseas Filipinos organizations, church groups, local and Philippine government institutions in the host countries, UN agencies and international organizations shall cooperate to organize and implement concrete actions aiming at recognizing the treasures of the Filipino culture and helping all Filipinos overseas be open to and be and enriched by the host countries’ cultures in order to become “Glocal” Filipinos (global as well as local).

4. The Philippine government shall establish a 1-stop-shop center for proper advice and assistance to returnees in the Philippines.

2. The Overseas Filipinos organizations and local and Philippine government institutions in the host countries shall jointly promote the empowerment of the Filipino diaspora, including the undocumented, fostering the unification process among Filipinos overseas 22

3. The Overseas Filipinos organizations, church groups, local and Philippine government institutions in the host countries, UN agencies and international organizations shall enact programs aiming at increasing Filipinos overseas’ awareness of their rights and as well as the laws and regulations in the host countries.

5.n The Overseas Filipinos organizations, church groups, local and Philippine government institutions in the host countries shall cooperate in the establishment of counseling centers and support groups in all the host countries. 6. The NGOs, academe and local Philippine government institutions in the host countries shall collaborate in the organization and offer of accessible offering of and sustainable finance literacy programs to Filipinos overseas. 7. The private sector, NGOs, Overseas

Filipinos’ organizations, local and Philippine government institutions in the host countries, UN agencies and International organizations shall forge a multi-stakeholder partnership aiming at promoting the economic security of Filipinos overseas. 8. The Overseas Filipinos’ organizations, church groups, Philippine government, NGOs and ILO shall cooperate to help Filipino domestic workers to develop their capacities (i.e. value formation programs), and set up service centers for them in the host countries. 9. The Filipino families, church groups, NGOs, Overseas Filipinos’ organizations, Philippine government and local host government shall jointly promote studies, researches, consultation and dissemination activities aiming at increasing the awareness of the issues impacting on Filipino youth engaged in international migration and organize and implement specific programs addressing their needs

organizations shall jointly promote the participation in the D2D process of all Filipino overseas in Europe through their organizations, starting from bringing back the outcomes of this conference to their respective countries. 12. The relevant Philippine government institutions shall promote to capitalize on already existing mechanisms and structures that can address the priority issues identified by the Conference. Therefore we formally commit to promote the implementation of all the above-mentioned recommendations through our regional and national networks and platforms, ensuring the linkage with the Global Filipino Diaspora Council. As a concrete manifestation of our commitment we hereby establish the European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD), according to the modalities adopted in this conference.

Rome, 29 September 2012 10. The Filipino families, church groups, NGOs, Overseas Filipinos’ organizations, Philippine government and local host government shall jointly promote and cooperate to set up counseling centers and support groups to address all problems affecting the Filipino families involved in international migration (i.e. isolation, domestic violence, mental and physical health). 11. The Global Filipino Diaspora council and the already engaged Overseas Filipinos’

Editor’s Note: D2D stands for “Diaspora to Dialogue”. Diaspora has been defined as “that part of a people, dispersed on one or more countries other than its homeland, that maintains a feeling of transnational community among a people and its homeland.The word diaspora comes from the Greek dia meaning “through” or “over” and speiro meaning “dispersal” or “to sow”. 23

said Sec. Nicolas. “Preparations are underway as we speak.” For the second summit, the CFO has adopted the theme ‘Two Years Thereafter: The Best of the Philippine Diaspora’ in line with its charge to track the progress of the different groups’ diaspora projects since the first summit and in order to identify areas of synergies to enhance these groups’ contributions to Philippine development. A diaspora refers to the movement or

migration of people away from their countries of origin, heritage or interest, while maintaining links with their homeland. Through its flagship program, Diaspora to Development (D2D) the Commission intends to institutionalize and maximize Overseas Filipino involvement in the socio-cultural and economic development of the Philippines through 10 major areas of interventions including skills and technology transfer, arts and culture exchange, educational

Convenors and some of the sponsors for the upcoming 2nd Global Summit pose for a souvenir photograph at a press launch held at the Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City. Seated from left are CFO Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas and Undersecretary Mary Grace Ampil-Tirona. With them, standing from left to right, are Tricia Reyes and Anne de la Cruz from The Medical City, Timmy Jayme and Gil Chua from DDB Group Philippines, Abby Bauca from SMART Communications, Inc., Ver Cuizon from the Global Council, and Jonathan Huertas from SMART Communications, Inc.

Commission on Filipinos Overseas schedules

Second Global Summit on February 2013 The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) announced that it will be holding the 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora at Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City on February 25-27, 2013. Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas, CFO Chairperson, personally made the official 24

announcement in front of a select group of news editors and reporters recently. “Following the successful first summit in September 2011 in Manila, we expect the February 2013 event to be even bigger; with leaders of the various global Philippine associations in attendance,”

Officials from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) announce the upcoming 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora scheduled on February 25-27 next year at a press launch in Dusit Thani Hotel in Makati City last November 14, 2012. Speaking before an assembly of media representatives and major sponsors are (from left) CFO Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas and Undersecretary Mary Grace Ampil-Tirona. 25

exchange, business linkaging, diaspora investments, global legal assistance, advocacy, diaspora philanthropy, medical mission coordination, tourismin itiatives, and return and reintegration. With the impetus of the D2D coming from the hundreds of Overseas Filipinos expected to attend the 2013 Global Summit , the rallying cry “BALIKBAYANIHAN!” has been fittingly chosen by the event organizers. The summit also aims to promote networking among Overseas Filipinos in the different regions of the world and accelerate participation of second and third generation Overseas Filipinos in the country’s development. The CFO is the government agency mandated to promote and uphold the interests of overseas Filipinos and to preserve and strengthen ties with Filipino communities overseas. Among the major sponsors in the upcoming Diaspora to Development


summit are the Department of Tourism (DOT), the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA), Dusit Thani Manila, The Medical City, Vibal Printing, ActivAsia, and DDB Philippines. DDB, one of the largest companies in the Philippine advertising industry, has also been appointed as the official communications partner and marketing arm for the global summit.

“An Enchanted Evening of Filipino Music in Brussels “ A Collaboration of International Filipino Artists By Cherry Ann Bannawol

For more information, please contact CFO through: Ms. Ma. Nicole Pangilinan Tel. No. 552-4764 Fax No. 561-8332 Email: Ms. Honeyleen Novilla Tel. No. 552-4708 Email: or visit our website at


Last November 7, a few hundred people – Filipinos, Belgians and many other nationalities – gathered in the Grand Hall of the Conservatoire Royale de Bruxelles to experience a concoction of musical talents brought about by a collaboration between a world-renowned Filipino chorale and a young pianist waiting to join the ranks of internationally acclaimed performers. Under the patronage of Her Excellency Victoria S. Bataclan, Philippine Ambassador to Belgium and Luxembourg


and in cooperation with the Embassy of the Philippines and the Brussels Filipino Chaplaincy, the benefit concert, whose proceeds went towards a soon-to-belaunched Development Fund for Filipino Artists in Belgium, marked the end of the 3-month long European Tour (2012) of the Philippine Madrigal Singers, intensified through back-to-back performances with Belgian-based Filipino pianist Michael Lao Cu. The Philippine Madrigal Singers (MADZ), led by their choirmaster Sir

Mark Anthony Carpio, sang a collection of sacred and secular music arranged by Filipino composers, including familiar tunes from the folksong “Tong Tong Pakitong” to George Canseco’s “Ama”, a moving choral arrangement of The Lord’s Prayer. Being the first choir in the world to win the European Grand Prix for Choral Singing… twice!, the MADZ has since stood up to world expectations by consistently winning all the top prizes in many prestigious international choral competitions, as well as bringing inspiring and first-class performances to audiences in practically every part of the globe. This concert was no exception, as the group demonstrated, once again, their ability to produce captivating

melodies strengthened by flawless vocal harmonies. As the MADZ’s European Journey ended that night, another musical journey has just begun. Since the beginning of this year, pianist Michael Lao Cu has embarked on a several-year-long project on 20th Century Piano Music of the Philippines Conceived Along the Concepts and Aesthetic Frameworks of Indigenous Artistic Traditions”. Having studied piano in the Philippines since childhood, a summa cum laude graduate in Piano Performance in the USA, Mr. Cu obtained his Master of Music diploma with distinction from the Royal Conservatory of Brussels. On top


of all his educational and professional activities, the 25-year old musician is now pioneering a “Development Fund for Filipino Artists” – a coordination and grant-giving body for the preservation, development and promotion of Filipino art and artists in Belgium. During his performance, the audience was enchanted, not only by the pianist’s wide-ranging emotions and dazzling virtuosity, but also by rarely-heard instrumental settings of ethnic Filipino music from the sounds of the indigenous Kulintang to a musical portrayal of the Mayon volcano’s dramatic eruption.

culture, I was able to have an opportune interview with the performers, where the pianist himself shared some inspiring stories and thought-provoking ideas, which he is delighted to share with our readers across Europe. Incidentally, Mr. Cu was a former Bureau Editor and part of the Roots & Wings staff; and this time it is his turn to be in the spotlight.

Belgian-based Piano Virtuoso

Michael Cu shares his Life and Inspirations by Cherry Ann Bannawol

After the concert, which sent the mesmerized audience home with a better understanding of Filipino music and

Tell us something about your musical background, and how you ended up here in Brussels? Well, I started playing quite young, about 3 or 4 years old, but piano has always remained as a hobby. I actually quit playing piano at the age of 17, and went to the University of the Philippines to pursue a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry. (I know this is not the best way to start 30

an interview, but let me explain.) Then in 2005, my family had to move to the US, and I needed to find a scholarship of some sort to continue my studies. So my former piano teacher in Manila hooked me up with Prof. Reynaldo Reyes, one of our country’s musical treasures, who somehow saw something in me and immediately recommended me for a scholarship in Towson University’s 31

(Maryland, USA) Music Department, where he held full-professorship. Long story short, I had to practice and relearn piano from the very beginning, and finally managed to graduate in 2009. I took with me plenty of life-changing experiences and lessons as a pianist and professional musician as I went back to the Philippines that summer. In that same year, as another last minute decision, I took my chances and came to Belgium under the invitation of Daniel Blumenthal, my current teacher, who took me ‘under his wings’ and prepared me for the ‘real world’. And now, voila!, here I am. Though many are proud, some are also surprised at the same time, to 32

have a Filipino pianist here in Europe. It is not common for a Filipino to go abroad to pursue a career in music. What did you have to go through to keep on doing what you love, and not only survive but also succeed? I do not yet consider myself successful – at least not entirely. But I do consider myself lucky, that’s true! My years studying abroad were tough; let alone being away from family and having to deal with a multitude of changes everyday. Of course one of the biggest hurdles are the financial ones. When I was in the states I had to work like a horse – from cleaning tables and making pizza to accompanying ballet classes and theater productions. Not all jobs were ideal, but all of them paid the bills. In

Brussels, life has been made much easier by the warmth of having a community. I found my lifestyle to be much healthier here, thus allowing me to give more time and attention to my music. Though the challenges I faced here were of different kinds – more emotional and personal rather than financial or physical hurdles. All I can say, after having been through much, is that I owe everything – where I am now – to certain people who had trust and confidence in my talent and potential as a musician and as a person, to certain key people in my life who never failed to motivate me and to push me to greater heights, and of course to Our Father whose Will has turned events around to set my life to a path I had never imagined I would take.

So what about this project on Filipino music that you are undertaking, how did that come about? It all started as a Doctorate Project in the Royal Conservatory towards the end of 2011, which had to be put on hold due to a multitude of reasons. But since I had already been engaged for several performances in Belgium and Luxembourg, I studied the repertoire anyway and did my research; one thing led to another as I eventually found myself deeply involved with Filipino classical music. I think it’s one of the greatest treasures we have as part of our rich cultural heritage. Unfortunately, most of this music remains relatively unknown to the common people, and much of that is due to the lack of 33

accessibility and awareness to it. That is why, as a Filipino pianist in Europe, I put the responsibility upon myself to embark on an in-depth study of piano works by Filipino composers, and propagate it using the maximum amount of resources possible, so that it would be known not only among Filipinos, but also among the international public. Through this project, I would like to create not only a better appreciation for the music, but also a better understanding of the Filipino people in foreign countries; as music is, undeniably, a peoples’ symbolic instrument of self-expression, cultural development and national identity. It’s going to be a long and hard journey, but with successful events such as the well received recitals in Luxembourg as well as the recently concluded concert with the MADZ, I begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Speaking of the concert, which was indeed a great success, it was mentioned that the proceeds of the event would go towards a yet-to-belaunched development fund, which you yourself have initiated. Could you tell us more about this fund and its objectives? The “Development Fund for Filipino Artists in Belgium” came about as a consequence of my experiences working with various Filipino amateur musicians (singers, mainly) who possessed immeasurable talent, yet lacked the opportunities or education to make use of their abilities well. I see a lot of promise 34

among the Filipinos here, especially when it comes to the performing arts. Unfortunately, the unavailability of resources and absence of funding prevent many from pursuing their craft. Therefore, I envisioned a coordinating and grant-giving organization whose objectives would be: (1) TO UPLIFT the quality of artistry and performance among Filipinos in Belgium, (2) TO DISCOVER and encourage Filipinos who demonstrate a strong potential in the fields of music, dance and fine arts, (3) TO INVEST in selected amateur artists in developing their skills through workshops and scholarships, (4) TO PROVIDE gifted individuals with opportunities to perform and showcase their talents in a professional environment, and finally, (5) TO EDUCATE our fellow kababayans in Belgium & Luxembourg about the importance of music & arts in creating successful, well-rounded individuals. Where do you get your inspiration in all this? I believe that we all have a purpose in this world. Some people spend all their life looking for that purpose; I am quite fortunate to have found mine. My inspiration comes from this fire that burns within me – an urge to make a difference. I know that it sounds silly as I am not even halfway through life (I hope!) but if I die now or tomorrow, I would like to be able to say that I have at least touched some lives, or moved certain people – that my existence has somehow made a difference somewhere:

in myself, in the people around me and in the world as a whole. For me, that in itself is inspiring. Furthermore, with the gift of music and thirst for knowledge, the possibilities are limitless. Since you mentioned about making a difference, we know that aside from being a performer and researcher, you also give lessons to a large number of piano students every week. What is your philosophy as a music teacher? First of all, I enjoy teaching more than anything else – and I dare to say that sometimes, I take more pleasure in teaching than in performing. I have been very blessed to have had the best teachers in my years as a student, and in several occasions I even catch myself sounding like one of them to my students. My philosophy is simple: EDUCATE YOURSELF. Whether it is in music, in languages, in sports, in business or in any other field, I find it important for every individual to grab every opportunity to learn, especially while at a young age. Education is the biggest investment a person can make, and it is the biggest present any parent could give for their children. When I teach my students, I always do so in a way that one day, they will be able to learn by themselves – to become independent. I tell them all the time that I do not expect them to be professional pianists, or even musicians at all, but I do expect them to learn something – to be able to discover their capabilities in music and stimulate their brain into

doing something productive rather than watching TV, playing video games or spending hours on Facebook. As a teacher, I enjoy very much trying to go inside the mind of a young child, to influence their thinking and lead them into their own discoveries. That’s one way of making a difference: planting seeds that someday will sprout and bear fruit. Finally, what are the biggest challenges for you as a musician? Do you ever regret choosing to be in this field, or maybe dream of doing something else? The only difficult part of being a musician is that you never stop working, you never stop thinking, and you never stop learning; but it is surely worth every minute! Unlike other 9-5 professions, we are on duty 24-hours a day, and most of the time our activities are at its peak when everyone else is done for the day, more so on weekends. It is most tempting, for example, whenever it is a holiday and the weather is beautiful, and everybody gets to relax and go outside while I have to stay at home in front of the piano practicing for an upcoming gig, or teaching a hard-headed pupil. But I never regret it. I wouldn’t deny that sometimes thoughts of “what if I chose a different profession instead…” comes up now and then, especially on moments of anxiety. But in the end, I am always reminded of the reasons why I do what I am doing, and that in itself is enough to keep me going. 35

Philippine Embassy in Athens promotes Philippine-made furniture in Greece by Milagros Viernes The Greek financial crisis has haunted not only Greece but the whole of the Eurozone bloc. Even with the newly formed government and ongoing persistent negotiations with the International Monetary Fund ( IMF) andother lender banks, the future is still uncertain. Yet, the Philippine Government , through its Embassy in Athens plans to pursue a more aggressive marketing strategy to promote Philippine furniture and accessories to the Greek market. This ispart of the economic diplomacy initiatives of the new Ambassador to Greece, Mr. Meynardo LB. Montealegre. 36

“I believe that the Greek economy will bounce back,” Ambassador Montealegre says.“ Andthe purchase of quality furniture is a best-buy investment, especially if we look at the preference of the Greeks in terms of modern furniture. They go for high quality materialsand designs”, he added. This observation was bolstered by the enthusiastic response of the guests at the Diplomatic Reception held last June at the Ledra Marriot Hotel in observance of the 114th anniversary of Philippine Independence.For the first time, the Philippine Embassy set up an exhibit of

Philippine Furniture andHome Décor at the foyer of the hotel. The exhibit consisted of antique and modern pieces from indigenous materials which showed the ingenuity and artistic talents of the Filipino designer.

and the mother of pearl table are samples of the quality of Philippine furniture available not only in the countrybut in other international outlets as well. These are made from traditional and indigenous materials but packaged in a modern way.

Guests were impressed by the Unisan bench made of antique molave wood in modern Philippine design, coffee table wood strip with Philippine map as top, three-seater and two-seater bench made of wood strips with fitted resin and home decors such as the capiz plate, pearlizedmollusk shell and coconut shell lamp.

“In terms of materials, quality and craftsmanship, our furniture designs can compete with the world’sbest ,” Ambassador Monteleagre said.

Most of the items exhibited are from the private collection of the Ambassador. Also found in his residence in Athens’ northern suburbs are various furniture pieces that show excellent Filipino creativity and craftsmanship. A center table found in the living room is made from the root of abalayong tree. The rocking chair made of molave wood, the divan lounge chair made of dated wood,

Furniture created by Filipino designers, sculptors and architects have found their way into the offices and abodes of renowned personalities and celebrities. One of these designers is Kenneth Cobunpue, a multi-awarded furniture designer and manufacturer from Cebu. For the year 2012, the Embassy has lined up several activities to attain its economic goals: Meetings/consultations with businessmen and importers of Philippine products in Greece, coordination with Honorary consuls in trade promotion, and participation in international trade exhibits, among others.


Philippine mission in Greece conducts health screening by Milagros Viernes “I used to have high blood pressure and my blood sugar level oftentimes was also high. Now I maintain normal levels and I never have to worry about being rushed to the hospital like before.” Mang Lando Cardona, Security Guard at the Philippine Embassy here in Greece happily remarked. He is one of the more than 1000 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have undergone health screening at the Embassy.

“With the regular medical check-ups and professional advice I have become aware of the need to watch my diet and to exercise regularly,” he added. Health screening is one of the projects of the Philippine Mission in Greece. This involves the taking and recording of blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels by volunteer nurses. Dental and eye check-ups are also being

done by volunteer doctors. The project aims to make the OFWs aware of these indicators and guide them on how to achieve and maintain stable levels. This is part of the on-site, need based services of the Philippine Mission under the leadership of Ambassador Meynardo Lb. Montealegre. Ms. Leonor Mabagal, Welfare Officer calls this undertaking ‘caring for the carers’. “The OFWs here have stressful jobs, some even taking in two or three part-time work in order to save money to send back home. Most of the time they forget to attend to their own personal needs,” Ms. Mabagal observed. Ms. Mabagal has a Masters Degree in Public Administration and has been with the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) for 24 years. Prior to her assignment in Greece she was posted in Saipan also as Welfare Officer. “When I arrived in Saipan in 2006 the territory was also undergoing economic crisis. We initiated the conduct of health screenings for the OFWs to help them cope with the effects of the crisis on their work and way of life. ,” Ms. Mabagal said. “Greece is also now in the same situation. Sometimes I think economic crisis is following me wherever I am assigned,“ she joked. Ms. Hope Tigas, nurse by profession is one of the volunteers helping the Mission in these screenings. She used to work as an intensive care nurse. She has also done


volunteer work in the United Kingdom. She takes time to advise the kababayans on healthy living and getting adequate exercise, among others. “It is very crucial for the workers to know the basics. It is what I call, taking care of themselves,” she said. Another volunteer is Dr. Constantina Stamati, an eye specialist. She has been doing eye examination and surgery for 11 years in Athens. According to her, so far about 10 OFWs have gone to her clinic for follow-up examination. For dental care, Dr. Damian Protonotarios has also volunteered his services at the screening site. For additional services, he can be reached at his clinic. In the first screening which was conducted in January of this year, only two out of 60 had normal blood pressure. Since then, those who returned for follow-up examination had lower or normal blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol levels. The health screenings are now being conducted every month at the Philippine Embassy premises in Athens. The Philippine Mission is committed to continue these screenings and will strive to reach more OFWs in Greece. This is but a small step for the prevention of possible life-threatening ailments, but will go a long way towards helping our workers to maintain healthy lifestyles.


into a Nazi concentration camp. Later that day, we returned to Litoměřice, where we celebrated the Filipino-Czech friendship with “Vinobraní” (meaning, wine festival) among the locals. To many Filipinos, Ferdinand Blumentritt was simply a European friend of our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. Many public parks, streets and even a railway station in Metro Manila, were named after Blumentritt to memorialize the friendship. As we walked through the streets and parks of Litomerice to visit the bust of Rizal, we learned from our very own Ate Rosa (Rosa Machackova, Filipina

tour guide), that Rizal visited Blumentritt only once to seek help for the publication of his novels, Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. The friendship grew, with Blumentritt writing and lecturing about the Philippines. Rizal was memorialized in Litoměřice with a park named after him, and his bust graced one wall. There it was noted, “To the memory of the true friendship of the most famous personality of the modern Philippines the great humanist Jose Rizal and the director of the technical secondary school of Litoměřice Ferdinand Blumentritt.”

Tracing the roots of

Czech-Filipino friendship by Jeanette Cueto One cold, rainy morning, a few sleepy souls found their way to two historic towns in Czech Republic. It was September 22, 2012. We, from the Filipino-Czech Association, together with some officers from the Philippine 40

Embassy in Prague, headed to Litoměřice, then to Terezin, some 60 kilometers north of Prague. We wanted to “trace the roots of friendship” between Filipinos and Czechs. While in the area, we also visited Terezin. Here we toured a former military fortress and garrison which was turned 41


The town was still sleepy like us when we got there early morning. All roads led to the town square which was set up for the wine festival, Vinobraní. Though the stage for the concert was set, and many stalls were ready to sell young wine (called burčák in Czech), as well as sausages and other local products, the town square was still practically empty in the morning. While the day was still early for the festivities to start in Litomerice, we decided to go to Terezin, a few minutes away. Terezin is known for its military fortress and garrison built during the Habsburg empire in the 18th century, and later as a Nazi concentration camp.


The Star of David at the Jewish memorial park immediately caught our attention when we arrived. A tree-lined road led us to the entrance to what is now commonly known as a former Nazi concentration camp. It was only here that most of us

realized that this establishment was a military fortress and garrison that had withstood several wars (from AustroPrussian to the Second World War). The visit brought back scenes we had only imagined and seen through movies and books on the Holocaust. Ate Rosa’s narrative during the tour switched back and forth during the olden times of the empires and the modern times of military atrocities. As we went from room to room, and eventually to the “gate of death” after passing though a tunnel, we felt drained with an eerie feeling.

The Filipino Association in Rogaland (F.A.R.)

celebrates 25 Years Silver Jubilee By Jacqueline Edvartsen, President of F.A.R. and Editor of F.A.R. newsletter

Moving forward

Luckily, it was time to go back to Litoměřice for the wine festival. The town square was already bustling and crowded. We placed the memories of Terezin at the back of our minds, and joined the festivities. The events showed once more that atrocities bring suffering, while friendships pave the way for greater cooperation and understanding. Last November 3rd the Filipino Association in Rogaland (F.A.R.) celebrated its 25 year silver jubilee with a huge party at Quality Airport Hotel in Sola. When F.A.R. was started in 1987 an article about it was publicized in the Stavanger Newspaper on November 24, 1987. At that time there were only about 100 Filipinos in Rogaland. Now there are between 1,500 to 2,000 Filipinos living here.


F.A.R. is a free, independent, democratic, non-religious and non-political organisation with the main purpose of gathering together through social gatherings and preserving customs and traditions. The more than twenty pioneer members contributed their time, effort and money to start the ball rolling. In January 1988 the association had its first election of 43

officers with a year term period each. James del Valle became the first President. The other positions filled were VicePresident, Secretary, Treasurer, Auditor, P.R.O., Sergeant At Arms and Deputy board members. F.A.R.´s Constitution and Bylaws was also implemented and approved by all the members present. On December 10, 1987, the first Christmas Party was celebrated while the first Valentine’s Day party and Independence Day party was held in 1988. In 1989, F.A.R. was officially registered at the Rogaland County and International Culture Center in Stavanger. In the same year, the official dance group was formed


and as the years passed, had different choreographers and dancers. The first Newsletter was also introduced and at present is issued 3-4 times a year. F.A.R. started a “Help Fund” in 1990 where proceeds from the lottery sales from various parties and events were donated to support a project called “SOS Children International”. This organisation helps orphan children to pursue education, provide food and shelter through the support received from voluntary individuals and organisations. The purpose of the Help Fund is to extend help during emergencies where donations can be sent through any

established charity organisations. For the past years, F.A.R. has sent cash donations to the calamity victims through charity organisations recommended by the Philippine Embassy in Oslo. The most recent donation was for the calamity victims of typhoon “Haiku” sent to the Philippine Red Cross. Since the first Constitution and Bylaws have some weak points, a new committee was formed composed of Eivind Edvartsen, Renee Ikdal, Geir Abrahamsen and Rafael Rosell. After more than 350 hours work of discussions and meetings, F.A.R.´s Constitution and Bylaws (COB), was finally amended and approved by the members during the

General Assembly on October 20, 1996. In the amended COB, “the elected officers shall hold office for a period of two years with overlapping terms” to ensure that the new officers receive guidance and transfer of experience be maintained. In the same year of 1996, F.A.R. had a logo contest and received six entries to choose from. The logo winner received more than half part of the member’s votes and can be seen above on the first page of this article. It is a Viking sword which symbolizes Norway’s unity and the Philippine map. Both are circled on top of a slight vision of the globe that gives a feeling of distance between Norway and the Philippines.


F.A.R. has a yearly Election of board of officers, officer’s meetings and general assembly. The major celebrations are: Valentine’s Day, Philippine Independence Day, Annual Feast, Christmas Party for adult and children.

& Bylaws Committee: Eivind Edvartsen, Geir Abrahamsen & Renee Ikdal, Election Committee: Ole Pedersen, Luz Aasen & Josephine Hadland, Facebook/Website Administrator: Michelle Romero and Committee Member: Tristan Nabong.

At present F.A.R officers are: President: Jacqueline Edvartsen, Vice-President: Teodora Haugstad, Secretary: Imelda Sarmiento, Treasurer: Jane Aareskjold, P.R.O.: Concordia Eriksen, Deputy Secretary: Jossiebel Nilsen, Deputy Treasurer: Luz Aasen, Deputy P.R.O.’s: Elvira Idland & Sonia Heigre, Adviser/ Honorary Consul: Renee Ikdal, Const.

F.A.R.’s past and present activities are as follows: Bingo was arranged two times a year, Fire Fighting Safety Course, Philippine Movie Video Club, Salsa Dance Session, Ballroom Dancing, MC/Men’s Club are active men in the association. Norwegian/Tagalog and Tagalog/

Norwegian Dictionaries sold to members, Summer time longest day “Sankthansaften”, International Market, Philippine food cooking evening, Saturday Lunch/Coffee. Children`s World Day, Different seminars conducted for the newly arrival Filipinos, i.e. Tax Assessment Seminar, Cultural Outreach (Philippine Embassy in Oslo), Consular Outreach (Philippine Embassy in Oslo). Filipino Charity Concert ”Kundiman at Klasiko”.Facebook has started in 2011. Activation of website ( Dance group. This is the most active and longest activity of the association.

The group has performed cultural dances in the different cities of Rogaland arranged by the Rogaland County. It also performed in United Nations (FN) Day, Tall Ship Race day, schools, seminars, fiestas, private arrangements, ”home for the aged/sick” and yearly 17th MayNorway’s National Day. Special thanks and gratitude to Rogaland County, Stavanger Community, devoted officers-past/present and loyal members without whom our organisation will not be where we are at present. Congratulations and Good Luck to F.A.R.’s 25 years Silver Jubilee. MABUHAY!!!

F.A.R. Goals and Motives: To create better understanding between Filipino and Norwegian cultures through social and cultural activities. To foster a spirit of enthusiasm, friendly relations, tolerance and mutual respect among members and their families. To uphold the moral and spiritual values of the members, as well as strengthening family ties. To provide members with information, advice and guidance as to how Norwegian society functions, explaining their rights and obligations. To develop potential abilities of every single member. To inform members and encourage them to participate in all the activities of the association. To promote social contact and develop friendly relations with other social and cultural associations in Norway. For more info:



Mutya Ng Pilipinas Scandinavia Presentation of Finalists in Stockholm by Rachel Hansen, photos by Tony Rodriguez

Congratulations to the six Filipino-Swedish finalists to the Mutya Ng Pilipinas Scandinavia Search Pageant held in Stockholm last November 23. The six ladies will vie for the title of Mutya Ng Pilipinas Scandinavia in February 2013 in Oslo, Norway. Two ladies will then be chosen to represent Scandinavia in the Mutya Ng Pilipinas Search Pageant to be held in Manila sometime in the autumn of 2013. These ladies are overwhelmingly impressive, not just for their outstanding beauties, but for their brains too - consider that at such a young age, one is a banker, another is an immigration expert, an economist, an optometrist, a Social worker university student, a scuba diver, etc etc. They are also actively involved in various 48

local community projects. Bravo, ladies, thanks for a job well done, keep up the good work, good luck and have a great time in Oslo!

The following awarded to:



Hanna Stenbacka – Mutya Ng Sweden Mikaela Hagstrom – Miss Elegant Mona Ferriol Dara – Best in Interview Naz Reyhanian Guevarra – Miss Charming Noelle Sunshine Francisco – Miss Photogenic Tina Khelghati – Miss Friendship 49





Stephanie Reese At Her Best!

by Rachel Hansen, photos by Tony Rodriguez Stephanie Reese is also known as Miss Standing Ovation, whether she is performing at the Carnegie Hall or the magnificent Eric Ericsonhallen in Stockholm. Last November 23, she did it again. She commanded another standing ovation at a charity concert held in Stockholm for the benefit of a Feeding Center for Undernourished Children in Cavite. It was an unforgettable evening of popular Filipino, Opera, Pop &


Theatrical music which makes Stephanie one of the most versatile performers ever, switching easily from one genre to another. Accompanying Stephanie on the piano was John Florencio, piano virtuoso, musical director and Editor of Roots&Wings in Paris. An interview article with Stephanie in the Spring issue of Roots&Wings is something we look forward to with great excitement. A thousand thanks Stephanie Reese!!


How did you get involve in Peter Jöback’s I Love Musicals concert tour here in Sweden? Peter and I have been friends for more than 15 years. He asked, I said yes. In which Swedish cities did you perform and how many concerts in total? It was six concerts in total: Stockholm, Gothenburgh, Karlstad, Linkoping, Malmo and Oslo in Norway. How did you find the Swedish audience? The Swedish audience is amazing! They were very warm and responsive. Thank you. Have you learned some Swedish words during your stay here? Yes. I learned to say thank you, thank

you very much, I would like a glass/bottle of red wine, and where's the food? Did you get a chance to go and look around each cities you have visited in Sweden while doing the concerts? Not really. There wasn't much time. But Peter did take us around to see quite a bit of Stockholm. That was lovely. Peter is a big star in Sweden, how did you find working with him? I love working with Peter. He's a perfectionist but very generous in spirit. He is as kind and loving as a friend as he is a performer. He makes it easy and a real joy! How do you find working with the rest of the group? I mean Michael McCarthy

“I Love Musicals” Q&A with Ma-Anne Dionisio By Net Frondell

Peter Jöback’s “I Love Musicals” is an elegant tribute to musicals with international star soloists from Broadway and West End, together with Stockholm Symphony Orchestra, and directed by British David White. Among the invited star soloists from the international scene were Michael McCarthy, a fabulous baritone who started his career at the age of 15, Katy Treharne, one of Great Britain's foremost sopranos and West End star Ma-Anne Dionisio, highly acclaimed for her performance as Kim in Miss Saigon. 56


and Kathy Treharne? This was a unique and special experience in that everyone involved was just lovely to work with. We genuinely enjoyed each other's company and had a great many laughs along the way. Do you know anyone here in Sweden? Like do you have relatives or friends who live here? I don't know if I have relatives in Sweden but I do have friends. And after this experience, I consider those I've worked with in this company, my extended family in Sweden. Would you like to come back here again?

I would come back in a heartbeat! How old were you when you started singing? Professionally, at the age of 13. In general, I always sang in church from a very young age. It was part of my culture. Have you always wanted to be in a musical play and how many have you been in? No. I wanted to be an astronaut, among other things. What do you enjoy most about theater and musicals? I enjoy the experience ... getting to travel

and meeting so many amazingly talented people and learning from each experience ... not just as an artist, but also as a person. Who was your biggest influence when it comes to music? I have many influences but growing up in the Philippines was a major factor ... there's nothing like OPM! (Original Pilipino Music)! Have you had a music career in the Philippines? Do you intend to pursue it? Yes, albeit short-lived. I was 14 years old and had just started with ABS-CBN when my parents decided to take the family to move to Canada. I would love to go back and do something at some point. I don't know what though. Any ideas are welcome. There is an ongoing audition in the Philippines at present to play the role of Kim in the revival of Miss Saigon in 2013 in the UK, do you have any plans to audition? No plans to audition for the revival. I have no doubt they'll find who they're looking for. There is so much talent in our country. Are you married? Do you have kids? I've never been married. I do have three beautiful children. Two boys and a girl. Sisters? Brothers? I have four sisters.


When did your family move to Canada? My family moved to Canada in 1990. What do you do during your spare time? I write, I read, I cook, I play. Do you still have relatives left in the Philippines? From what province or town were you came from in the Philippines? I have lots of relatives still living in the Philippines. I am from Taguig. What have you been doing these days? Any upcoming projects? I am part of a new theatre company here in Toronto called Theatre 20. There may be some upcoming projects but I'm not, as of yet, at liberty to discuss them. Any message for the Filipinos in Sweden? No specific message just a sincere hope that I get to perform in Sweden again some time soon and that they'd come and share in the experience.

Peter JĂśback comments on Ma-Anne Dionisio! “Working , singing and acting with Ma-Anne is amazing. She is so real in everything she does . She is absolutely one of the best singers I ever worked with . And on top of that, she is an amazing person to spend time with outside work.â€? 59







Profile for Roots and Wings

Roots & Wings Winter Issue 2012  

A quarterly online magazine for Filipinos in Europe, published by Rachel Publishing Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Its aim is (1) to uplift,...

Roots & Wings Winter Issue 2012  

A quarterly online magazine for Filipinos in Europe, published by Rachel Publishing Company in Stockholm, Sweden. Its aim is (1) to uplift,...

Profile for rawmags

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