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Roots&Wings CULTURE



Nr 14



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


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 Desiree Munoz Contributor, Ghent Belgium Desiree Munoz is 28 year old, was born and raised in Catbalogan City. She is currently living in Ghent, Belgium. She was a Program Officer at SEDPI, doing microfinance management consulting for three years, was awarded a scholarship by the Netherlands Fellowship Program and pursued a Masters degree at the International Institute of Social Studies in Den Haag. She studied French in Lyon and done internship for Goodwell, B.V., a private equity impact investment company in the Netherlands. Desiree has her own website, where she posts stories about almost anything, from healthy home-cooking, to love of family, country and life in general.

The lovely photos in our winter article “I Love Musicals� were from Anette Stolt. Many thanks Anette. 2


Dear Kababayans


Art Auction For Charity


A Pledge of Commitment


Artist in Focus


Diplomatic Profile


ENFiD sets up formal structure in Malta


More on ENFiD


Immigrants Outnumber OFWs


DG Lilia B. De Lima visits Greece



Roots&Wings CONTENTS SPRING 2013 36

62 Rachel Hansen

Basanstrasse 24 A Phil-Swiss Junction


Philippine Center Sweden


78 OFWs complete


The United Pinoy Sports League

Aina Bauer

Maria Bergersen Bureau Editor Oslo, Norway

Milagros F.Viernes

46 48


Bureau Editor, Athens, Greece

The Philippines hosts Miss Czech Republic Finalists Russel Obusan Wisden


Mutya Ng Pilipinas holds first beauty pageant in Oslo


Nazita Reyhanian Guevarra


Travel Diary

Jonathan A Coo

Bureau Editor Paris, France

Copy Editor


John Florencio

Publisher, Editor in Chief

Associate Editor

Tina Garcia


Luz Bergersen

Rebecca Garcia

Hanna Stenbacka

Associate Editor

Layout Editor

Executive Assistant

ReneĂŠ S.Ikdal

Jenny Hansen

Bureau Editor Prague, Czech republic

Lyndy Bagares Web Editor

Bureau Editor Stockholm, Sweden

Cherry Ann Bannawol Bureau Editor Brussels, Belgium

Cover: Painting by Toro 5

DEAR KABABAYANS Roots&Wings is delighted to welcome you to its 4th Spring issue, brimming with news and views, awesome artworks, reflections by our fellow glocal kababayans. Glocal? That’s what we should try to be - global and local at the same time. European na pero Pinoy pa rin. Wow! My ten-week sojourn in the Philippines ended very quickly, the highlight of which was the most memorable 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora held in Manila last Feb 26-27. What an awe-inspiring gathering of kababayans from all over the globe, each one nurturing dreams and schemes on how to make life better and brighter for us Pinoys at home and abroad. Six days after the Summit, a group of delegates lobbied at the COMELEC and succeeded in reversing the decision to disenfranchise or disqualify 238,000 overseas Filipino voters because of previous failure to cast their votes. Indeed, a great victory was won – revealing that the Filipinos in the Diaspora has the power and the ability to make possible the impossible. This coming May 13 is Senatorial Election Day. We urge all kababayans to go to your nearest Embassy or Consulate and cast your votes. On page we share with you the Pledge of Commitment the 400 delegates signed at the Summit. We invite you to also join with us in this exciting, exhilarating global Filipino movement. A hundred, a thousand, a million voices together means power, might, force that will change the destiny of our nation in the best direction. Then there’s ENFiD, the fast rising European Network of Filipino Diaspora, the child of the D2D and the Global Summit. With its first President Gene Alcantara from the U.K on the helm, we are marching on towards a unified Filipino community in Europe, ready and able to take our place as an important partner towards European progress. 6

Back home, we hold one of the fastest mindblowing economic growth in the world, at 7,3% GDP and still soaring, indeed progress and prosperity is in the air, mighty condominiums growing like wild mushrooms, awesome shopping malls, world class restaurants, shining SUVs, happy smiling faces, tourism increasing in leaps and bounds, evidence that indeed it is more fun in the Philippines. Kudos to the Filipino people and the PNoy government for a job well done but may we kindly remind those sitting in power not to rest on their laurels but continue the good work not forgetting those legions of our poor brothers and sisters who are not invited to the party. Access to decent housing, education, medication, yes, proper nutrition should be prioritized. Only then can we call our nation great. Go Filipinos, go - together we have power within our reach, together we will build a great nation, together we will work for a bright future for our fellow kababayans, our families, our children and our children’s children.

Rachel Hansen

Everyone is invited!

"Like" the page and be able to read stories about the beneficiary and the artists. News To contribute to the funds needed for from the family will be posted on the page the recovery of the Duterte-Lopez family continuously as well to update everyone from a horrid tricycle accident in Antipolo, about Mark’s recovery. Philippines that left the breadwinner, Mark, 28, in a coma. This is the aim of Pinoy It’s so easy to join! All you need is a Tayo facebook Art Auction happening on Facebook account. Here’s a quick preview March 28 – April 4, 2013. how: photos of the artworks will be displayed as an album on the page. The exhibit will feature four Filipino Description of each item will be included artists: Olly Molly Golly Les (Cebu/Samar), such as the type of art, size, start bid price Dear Prudence (Quezon City/Manila), Kris and shipment. Directly comment a bid Santa (Berlin/Isabela) and Kendrick Tan price on the photo of the artwork you (Manila/Samar). Twenty-one (21) artworks desire, exactly the same way you leave a – paintings, digital illustrations, sketches comment on a friend’s Facebook photo. and monochromes will be up for bid. All proceeds will go directly to the family's Voila! Bid winners will be contacted at account. the end of the event. For more questions and artwork preview requests, contact us You can visit through the artbayanihan Facebook page. artbayanihan to view all the artworks. See you there! 7

Artist in Focus

A Pledge of Commitment By the delegates to the (D2D) Diaspora to Development 2nd Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora 26-27 February Two Years Thereafter: The Best of the Philippine Diaspora Balik Bayanihan Para Sa Inang Bayan I am an overseas Filipino. I carry with me every Filipino’s dream as I move around in a globalizing world. I carry with me the dream of a better Philippines and the hope that every Filipino succeeds wherever one may be in any corner of the world. I am a global Filipino – I commit to become an advocate for the rights, welfare and well-being of Filipinos everywhere. I am a global Filipino – I commit to espouse effective diaspora engagement in whatever form it may take. I am a global Filipino – I commit to become a convenor who will strive to bring people together, to pursue common interests whether in uplifting the lives of people in the Philippines or the lives of Filipinos in the host country. I am a global Filipino – I commit to become a catalyst who will open people’s eyes about opportunities for engaging with the motherland and creating innovative approaches towards the objective of inclusive growth in the Philippines and the full human development of our people. I am a global Filipino –I commit to become a partner who will work closely with other leaders to help refine and redefine what development means for the motherland. Let this be a clear and unmistakable call to action among my fellow Filipinos here and abroad. With God’s help, I know we will triumph!


The Madness of Toro: The Gesture on the Canvas is a Gesture of Liberation By Ricky Francisco The private oppression that marks modern life has been spoken about by many existentialists. The rigorous routine that sustains it – commute, work, home - has, for many individuals, become the metaphor of the the rat’s maze where man has been reduced to an insignificant rodent in a Pavlovian experiment of monumental scale. These

ritualistic routines though, have invisible roots that sustain them. Sanctified by culture and the values that nourish it, what has become the very glue that provides cohesion to modern society, becomes the cancer that corrodes it from within. The weight of expectations forged from relationships, from the ties that would have ennobled responsibility 9

Artist in Focus

and the very act of nourishing identity, have been perverted to become chains that shackle a man, a prisoner of his own identity, status, ethnicity and class. Yet there are moments when a man senses these invisible chains, sees them for what they are, and declares “Enough!” That is the moment when he breaks free – a deviant perhaps, or a hero? Ironically,


Artist in Focus

it will be through the eyes of the society that he is escaping from, where he will again be judged as either, and fall again into the trap. But for the moment of “Enough!” he is truly free. The Madness of Toro is rooted in “Enough!” This solo exhibit marks the rebirth of an individual who has shaken

off his shackles and creatively claimed for himself a new life, the life of Toro, an artist. The works by Toro are gestural abstract expressionist, action painting as Harold Rosenberg coined it. As such, we should be viewing the works “… by recognizing in the painting the assumptions inherent in its mode of

creation. Since the painter has become an actor, the spectator has to think in a vocabulary of action: its inception, duration, direction—psychic state, concentration and relaxation of the will, passivity, alert waiting. He must become a connoisseur of the gradations between the automatic, the spontaneous, the


Artist in Focus

evoked.” There is a certain explosive yet controlled energy that can be seen in the works of Toro. Many of the large canvases which range from 6x6 feet and above, are covered with splashes of paint, that splatter forcefully where they initially meet the canvas, but leave long, wispy trails behind them. To create these there


Artist in Focus

should be enough force to propel the viscous paint to create splatters, enough speed and movement to draw them into thin lines, and enough stamina to continue this in a sustained manner to cover the entire canvas. And the canvases are huge. They immerse the viewer into this sea of swirls, and recreate for the

viewer the feeling of walking in a surreal maroon rain, or in another painting, be standing on a giant’s desk and being on top of one of his immaculately white parchments the moment ink spills on it. There is a certain excitement one feels at being so diminutive. It plays with one’s perspective and enables one to see, quite literally and figuratively, a big picture. But one sees pretty much what one would

project, for the canvases are like giant Rorschachs. Each canvas is intimate, a confession in acrylic, a private diary exposed to the public in a code, a private longing fulfilled. Perhaps there is reason for this madness, a reason which we must find out for ourselves. Perhaps, in these troubled times, it is as Martin Luther King, Jr. said “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.”


Artist in Focus

Artist in Focus

Ricky Francisco is currently a freelance art consultant who works for art museums, galleries, private collectors and artists in the Philippines and Singapore. He has had experience in setting up a private gallery in Singapore and promoting Filipino art in the process. He has worked with artists like Toro by helping them refine their art and setting up art exhibitions. Prior to freelancing, Ricky worked for the Lopez Memorial Museum and Ayala Museum, two of the finest private art museums in the Philippines. Barely half a year after his first solo exhibit at the Yuchengco Museum's Water Dragon Gallery, the visual artist Toro is back with a second solo exhibit, which, he states is his "last one doing paintings that looks like Pollock's," as he transitions to doing "more conceptual work" in his artistic practice for the near future. Relatively new to painting, Toro picked up the brush after about forty years of "letting life happen" from the first moment he discovered he had a liking for art. It was in his elementary years when the young Toro was surprised by his teachers with a prize for his abstract rendition of a cityscape where he "did not follow the rules of perspective," and represented a centuries-old gray weatherbeaten historic building in Fort Santiago, Manila with a vivid red, looming facade that was more of his impression than an accurate rendition. The surprise of this acknowledgement made a deep impression on the young child whose only preoccupation was to blend in, and not stand out - particularly so when his parents were illegally detained for four years by the men of then President and 14

dictator Ferdinand Marcos or becoming out-standing in the field of banking. Coming from a conservative family where doing art is seen as a mere hobby he has been engaged in stock trading and real estate for most of his adult life to support his family. Art, however has not given up on him as he soon discovered. After a death in the family and some serious family upheavals, he heeded its call and started learning from Chew Choon, a Singaporean watercolorist, and the Filipino gestural abstract expressionist Pancho Piano in 2010. With barely a year of learning, he has exhibited his works alongside those of his Filipino mentor in the first time he publicly exhibited his works in a three-man exhibit in February 2011, and proceeded to rapidly evolve his style into the large drip-and-splatter covered canvases reminiscent of the American gestural abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock for his first solo exhibit in August 2012. And now he is back with a suite of fifteen canvases, that appear more like a exploration in, and a celebration of the medium – quite unlike the stark, tight

suite of drip paintings in his first solo, The Madness of Toro – but still as intense. This exhibit, which he calls “Temerity” has a several works that connect with his works in previous exhibit, but has several works that explore the attributes of the fluidity of the paint, and the harmonious contrast and compliment in color, all still in the large canvases that he is accustomed to. They are aptly entitled the “Discovery Series.” This series appears to be his experiment on the fluidity of acrylic paint as he explores how it blend, marbles and flows on canvas as he changes his repertoire of gestures from the flick of the wrist that enabled his long, wispy lines in the Moods Series of his first solo, to the drips, pouring and brushing of the paint in this new series.

Whereas his first solo exhibit, The Madness of Toro, appeared to be more of a personal declaration of “Enough!” to the pressures of family life and his family history, Temerity seems to be an artist’s exploration of technique and medium in the works presented. Despite the seemingly more cheerful characteristics of his works for this exhibit, the artist states that “it is with the same intensity aas that of his first solo” – which he characterized in his speech from that exhibit as “the same level of emotion as when he arrived from school one day to find that both his parents were already detained, and he, in his anger, broke their table.” Temerity is his way of dealing with his past and his present – both of which need boldness and courage to face.


Diplomatic profile

Diplomatic profile

presidents,etc. Psychology is a stepping stone to foreign service;it provides a good background to this field. There’s also political psychology, for instance, a branch of study of political beliefs of leaders- a related field.

An exclusive interview with His Excellency

Meynardo LB. Montealegre Ambassador Extraordinary & Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Hellenic Republic with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Cyprus by Milagros F.Viernes is grateful for the opportunity interview His Excellency Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Meynardo Los Banos Montealegre.

working then at Petron, Human Resource Development (HRD) and I wasn’t thinking of entering the foreign service that time. My educational background, which is Psychology and Foreign Service are interrelated. Psychology is a study of Why and when did you decide to human relations. Foreign service is an become a diplomat? extension of human relations, more of Well, it was more by accident. I was the relations between states and leaders, ROOTS&WINGS


Asian group not only Southeast Asia, but also Bangladesh, Korea, Pakistan, India, China.

At the home office I was with ASPAC and ASEAN. This enabled me to have bilateral, regional, and multi- lateral experience in Then I worked at the Foreign Service the diplomatic service. Institute of the Department of Foreign Affairs which gave me an insight into the What is your assessment about the workings of foreign service. The rest, as relations in general between the they say, is history. Philippines and Greece? We have outstanding relations with Can you tell us some highlights of your Greece. We established diplomatic career so far? relations in 1950,and in two years we I started as economic officer in our embassy will be celebrating our 65th anniversary. in Tokyo. I was the Third Secretary and But still there are areas for further Vice Consul assigned to head the economic enhancement and deepening cooperation section. Since the Philippines has active in all areas- political, economic, cultural bilateral relationship with Japan, we and people- to- people exchange. I think were involved in the whole gamut of these are the things that both countries trade, investment, tourism, and ODA. can work further on. The more important In New York I was with the economic thing right now is that we have maintained committee in the Security Council of close relations for more than 60 years. the United Nations. We initiated the declaration of International Year of the Rice in 2004. It was the first resolution What are the challenges/opportunities we worked on with Ambassador Ricky do you see as you seek to enhance/ Manalo. We also worked on migration expand Philippine-Greek relations? trying to link it with development and We have to have some institutional poverty alleviation. We worked hard for mechanisms as a measure to further engage the passage of resolutions in these areas. the Greeks and the Greek government And In Vienna I was chair of the Group into coordination and cooperation with of 77 in China for the International us. When I say this, I think more in Atomic Energy Agency. At the same time terms of establishing the economic I was chairman of the Asian Group of the front. We have to revive and encourage UNIDO because during that time we were the active participation of the chambers discussing development- related issues in of commerce and industry because part the UN to coordinate and consolidate the of our institutional framework is to 17

Diplomatic profile

encourage the business sector to help us promote the country in Greece and likewise Greece to the Philippines. This is because the work of government is to facilitate the interaction between business sectors of both countries and to recognize that the chambers of commerce would be a good conduit to bring private sectors together. There’s little information here in Greece about the developments in the Philippines especially right now when our economy is booming. We need to be more active in disseminating information to the Greek public and also because Secretary Albert del Rosario has been encouraging all diplomatic posts to be more active in the economic diplomacy pillar of our foreign policy. And part of the economic program is to promote the Philippines here in Greece and in various sectors. So during the regional consultations in Manila, I invited Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Lilia de Lima to come here in Greece to explore possible exploration of new markets. It’s the best time to do our campaign on what opportunities are open to them knowing at the back of our minds that they are undergoing economic crisis. But this should not prevent us from letting them know what are the opportunities available in the country,because some of them might be looking at some markets as well to lessen their production costs. Since we have the BPO,PEZA centers, those involved in manufacturing for 18

Diplomatic profile

instance and related industries can take advantage of what we can provide, in addition to good workforce, excellent and trainable manpower and incentives that are provided for by the government. Again part of the institutional building we have initiated which aims to increase people- to- people exchanges and to have both sides familiar with each other is the twinning arrangement of cities. We will explore establishing sister city relations, such as Athens-Manila, Santorini-Cebu, Thessaloniki-Athens, among others. Once we have all these mechanisms, it’s a lot easier to encourage people because they are already familiar with each other. Even in the local level we are trying to establish linkages. It will take some time before these efforts bear fruit but we are trying to lay down all these foundations at this stage. As a result of our initiatives in the economic front the Greek government is very much interested. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Development and Competitiveness have signified their support to the Philippine Embassy in sending economic missions to the Philippines. This is an offshoot of the visit of Director General Lilia de Lima and the active participation of the chambers of commerce. Hopefully we’ll proceed along these lines. What about political cooperation? We try to maintain our close political

cooperation. When I say political cooperation it’s more in maintaining our line of communication with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the other agencies of Greek government. We also want to increase people- to-people exchanges. The visit of Director General de Lima is both political and economic in a way, because she is a top government official visiting the country. We were able to arrange her visit to the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We have to have regular consultations and coordination with the Greek government. This is something we’d like to further enhance.

they have begged off in scheduling the last or third consultations. That’s still on top of the agenda in terms of reactivating and forging the said security agreement because that will benefit a lot of Filipinos in Greece. What’s your general opinion of working conditions for Filipinos in Greece? I think our Filipino workers in Greece are fortunate to be in a place where they can identify although they’re in Europe. There are common characteristics between Filipinos and Greek nationals. We are both friendly, hospitable, warm people. We have close family ties and we are both Christian in orientation. These contribute to the good rapport existing between Filipinos and Greeks. So it’s not difficult for the Filipino worker to adjust here in Greece and work for Greek nationals because of that psyche that we have in common. I think many of them have stayed here for more than 20, 30 years and were able to bring members of their families here. They are actually considered part of the extended families of the Greeks.

The last official visit to Greece was way back in 1997 by President Fidel V. Ramos. I have yet to see a high- level visit since then between Greece and the Philippines. At least the visit of Director General de Lima activated or reinforced our political cooperation. We do hope that we will have a regular venue to further our consultations with the Greek government. Of course every now and then we call on the Ministry for some of our consultations and they’ve been very accommodating to us. They are also fortunate in terms of climate because here in Greece we have We’re also working on the social security few months of winter, the rest of the year arrangements between the Philipppines is warm. And they enjoy very good pay, and Greece. in fact, negotiations have been relatively. Although some are affected completed as far as I can recall but there by the crisis, it’s not that much- they can are some administrative and technical adjust because by nature we are flexible areas where the two sides have to meet as a people . We’re pliant, resilient. and decide on these concerns. But because of the economic crisis affecting Greece, Do you believe that Filipino workers are


Diplomatic profile

highly regarded by the Greeks? They always have high regard for Filipinos. The alleged drug related cases wherein Filipinos are involved are isolated cases. It’s unfortunate that some Filipinos are involved in such incidents. I always say during our meetings with the Filcom to avoid those things because they don’t contribute to maintaining our good image here. Maintaining our good name will be a good foundation for sustaining their trust and high regard for us in order that they’ll continue to rely on the Filipino workers here. It is a fact that majority of Filipinos in Greece belong to the domestic service sector. Are we trying to ‘break out of this mold’ and look beyond this sector for other opportunities for Filipinos? That’s part of the thrust of the Philippine government to identify skilled niches/ high skilled jobs for the Filipinos . That’s the reason why we’re trying to equip them with skills enhancement programs like caregiving, computer, cooking,etc. At least they’ll have opportunities to look for highly skilled jobs here or elsewhere especially for those affected by the economic crisis. But as I said the focus of the government is to encourage or identify high skilled work for the Filipinos and upgrade their skills.

Diplomatic profile

to put up an exhibit here before your term ends? Who knows? We’ll see. If there will be some opportunity we will look into that. But right now we have so many things we can work on. I can’t say for now. Most of the photos are landscape images : “Art in Nature”. There’s so much inspiration you can get from the way nature presents itself. It’s relaxing, refreshing and inspiring. I can get some sort of satisfaction from the serene surroundings and it relaxes the mind. In a week there are so many issues and problems in the performance of my job. Photography relaxes me by seeing and identifying things that present a very serene atmosphere. I didn’t have formal lessons in photography .It’s a hobby, a passion.

Any special message to the Filipinos in Greece? I have always been telling them to maintain the good name of the Philippines, maintain the trust and confidence of their employers by engaging in productive activities, not getting into drugs, or into trouble that will put the whole country in a bad light. Because as I always tell them, whatever good or bad things they do is not only a reflection of themselves but also a reflection of the Embassy and the whole Philippines. I think we have to be responsible enough and show that as a You are into photography, you’ve shown people we are really good, friendly, and us beautiful photographs . Do you plan dependable workers.


Assistant Director, Southeast Asia Division, ASPAC; and as Principal Assistant, Northeast Asia Division (Japan/Korea), ASPAC.

His Excellency Meynardo LB. Montealegre is the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Hellenic Republic, with concurrent jurisdiction over the Republic of Cyprus since September 2011. Prior to this appointment, Ambassador Montealegre’s most recent foreign posting was at the Philippine Embassy/Mission to the United Nations, Vienna, Austria as Minister/ Deputy Permanent Representative (20062008). He also served at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations, New York initially as First Secretary, then as Minister (2002-2006); and at the Philippine Embassy, Tokyo, Japan, as Third Secretary and Vice Consul, then as Second Secretary and Consul, and as First Secretary and Consul (1993-2000).

Ambassador Montealegre represented the Philippines in various international conferences and was a member of the Philippine delegation to various meeting and conferences. Among these were the following: in Vienna - the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), General Conference/ Industrial Development Board Meetings, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), UN Office in Vienna (UNOV), i.e., Transnational Crime, Human Trafficking, Corruption, Drugs and Crime; in New York - the 57th, 58th, 59th and 60th UN General Assemblies (2002-2005); and as Alternate Philippine Representative to the UN Security Council (2004-2005); and at the ASEAN - Ministerial Meetings/Post Ministerial Conferences: Standing Committee and other Working Group Meetings (1992, 1993) in Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Bandar Seri Begawan, Singapore, and Hanoi. He was also the Alternate Representative, ASEAN Promotion Center, Tokyo, Japan (1998-2000).

Ambassador Montealegre holds a B.S. degree in Pschology and an M.A. degree in Asian Studies both from the University of the Philippines in Diliman. He also completed the Executive Program: Leaders in Development (Managing Political and Economic Reforms) from the Kennedy School of Government, He also served in various capacities at Harvard University in June, 2003. the Home Office as Executive Director, Office of Asian and Pacific Affairs ( ASPAC); The Ambassador hails from Marinduque. He Director, Northeast Asia Division, ASPAC; keeps himself occupied in his spare time with Acting Director, Office of ASEAN Affairs; reading, golf and swimming. He is also an avid Acting Director, South Asian Division, ASPAC; photographer. 21

Diplomatic profile

Diplomatic profile

Behind the lens by Ambassador Montealegre



Press Release

Press Release

European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD) sets up formal structures in Malta 22 January 2013

VALLETTA, MALTA- A new network of Filipinos in Europe has set up formal mechanisms in a meeting here over the weekend, less than four months after the same groups met for a diaspora conference in Rome.

is home to some 1500 Filipinos, 625 are registered according to 2011 figures from the Commission for Overseas Filipinos.

The meeting was hailed as historic by Philippine Ambassador to Italy Virgilio Reyes, in his remarks before Representatives from 7 European the representatives from the UK, Italy, countries elected the officers of the the Netherlands, Switzerland, the Czech European Network of Filipino Diaspora Republic, Norway and host Malta. or ENFiD and formed its constitution and bylaws in a meeting at the Dar L-Emigrant Monsignor Philip Calleja of the Office of Office here in the Maltese capital Valletta. the Migrants Commissioner also told the representatives that he was hopeful of the Gene Alcantara, a UK-based lawyer, was help that ENFid would be able to give to elected ENFiD Chair; while Rohlee de migrants. Guzman (Netherlands) was elected Vicechair; along with Marison Rodriguez The ENFiD representatives, together (Czech Republic) as Secretary; Renee Ikdal with other migrant groups attended the (Norway) as Treasurer; and Diomedes Sunday mass in Valletta to celebrate the Eviota (Switzerland) as Communications Migrant Day. Later ENFiD officers held Director. All compose the Board of an orientation session with the Filipino Directors to include Monsignor Jerry community in Malta. Bitoon (Italy) and the appointed noncountry representative, Ms. Marie Luarca- ENFiD was formed after the Diaspora to Dialogue (D2D) conference in Rome Reyes as the ENFiD Executive Director. last September, which had some 250 ENFiD said they will register as a Filipino diaspora representatives from regional voluntary organization in Malta, 15 European and 7 other participating saying the small archipelagic nation in countries. southern Europe is a migrant-friendly nation hosting numerous nationalities. The formation of ENFiD is regarded as a Malta, which has a population of 419,100, higher level of cooperation between the 24

Filipino diaspora in Europe, the Philippine concentrations in the UK, Italy, Germany, government and European host countries. Greece, Spain and France. Refer to: Diomedes Eviota (Bern, The CFO says there were 808,779 Filipinos Switzerland) or in Europe in 2011, with the highest +41 31 540 3433

L-R (Top): Marison Rodriguez, ENFiD-Czech Republic, Marika Farrugia, Exec Secretary in the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organizations in Malta, Diomedes Eviota, ENFiD-Switzerland, Rohlee de Guzman, ENFiD-Netherlands, Renee Ikdal, ENFiD-Norway, Jennifer Icao-Calleja, ENFiDMalta, Amelia Alado, ENFiD-UK Adviser, and Gene Alcantara, ENFiD-UK. (Bottom) Marie LuarcaReyes, ENFiD Executive Director, Virgilio Reyes, Philippine Ambassador to Italy, and Sebastian Micallef, Commissioner/FOIO in the Commission of Voluntary Organizations in Malta. 25

European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFiD)

What is it all about? Why is it good for us to get involved? (Excerpts from the Power Point presentation by ENFiD President Gene Alcantara at the 2nd Global Summit of Filipino Diaspora in Manila) is to share Diaspora to Dialogue (D2D) at country level, to form a national link-up body for European Filipinos, to inventorize Filipino organisations at country level, and make a list of issues for action ENFiDs



country; (b) inculcate a strong sense of shared destiny and aspirations; (c) be a catalyst in promoting resolutions to issues and arising problems among Filipinos in Europe. ENFiDs vision is – A Filipino Diaspora

ENFiD covers 50 Countries in Europe The community in Europe with a continued

largest in terms of Filipino population is the United Kingdom - c300,000, Italy is 2nd at c190,000, Germany, Spain and France at 50,000+each, And some countries are truly small with just a handful eg Albania 25, Gibraltar 21, Ukraine 38 Constitution:

Preamble ENFiD is an active international networking association that hopes to (a) propagate the sense of Filipino “nationhood” away from the home 26

and sustained commitment and link to the Philippines, and at the same time fully integrated with the host country. (COMMITMENT AND FULL INTEGRATION) A vibrant and empowered Filipino Diaspora operating ‘glocally’ (globally and locally), whose talent, contribution and potential are recognized and rewarded both in Europe and in the Philippines, cognisant of the future

generation of Filipino descent. (PEOPLE)

to be part of the solution

A Filipino Diaspora in touch with its cultural origins and its best traditional values, and how it enriches the diversity of life of the host country. (IDENTITY)


Our mission and values statement Kilusan at Ugnayan – movement,

association, organization, network – transform the Filipino Diaspora in Europe into “glocal” Filipinos through the educational and community development activities of ENFiD; – interlink with the various Filipino organizations existing in the host countries to formally form part of the ENFiD, either directly or through the country ENFiDs; – seek grants, assistance, cooperation and partnership with the national, international, governmental, nongovernmental agencies, and foundations to carry out the mission and realize the vision of ENFiD Bayanihan at Buklod-talakayan – forum,

discussion, dialogue; intensified sharing, solidarity, heightened sense of Filipino volunteerism – provide an effective forum for regional and global interaction between and among Filipino individuals and organizations within the European Community, with the Philippines and with the rest of the world; – inspire and initiate dialogues, discussions and advocacies on relevant and important topics; and where possible

– character transformation and education – enable and when necessary, intervene for the Filipino Diaspora in Europe to fully integrate in the host countries’ political, cultural, social, and economic systems. – work towards the establishment of advice, support groups and counselling centres for the Filipino Diaspora in their host country in tandem with local governments, non-governmental bodies and the home-country government; – attend conferences and/or become active participants in the international dialogue regarding various topics such as ethical, cultural, political and technological issues, and in alleviating global poverty. at


Tasks defined so far…. At Regional Level (primarily the work of

the Chair in coordination with Executive Director) 1. Linking ENFiD to other international NGOs for grant assistance 2. Raising funds to assist country efforts 3. Organizing cultural and family counselling trainors workshops 4. Organizing economic missions to introduce savings/investment opportunities 5. Diaspora Fund At Country Levels (primarily the work of

the Country Reps) 1. Mini-fundraising for local needs 2. Engaging local Filipino organisations


to move towards a national body Issues in Europe

- Awareness raising needed re types of migrants eg in Italy 95% are OFWs and 5% are immigrants - Support for domestic workers and their issues/concerns – many are college graduates – are they given opportunity to use learning? - Assistance with immigration matters - Marginalisation and discrimination – the young particularly vulnerable - The elderly - The 2nd and 3rd generations and so on - Filipinos have a facility for languages but must speak the local language well in order to integrate, gain respect, (eg in UK, you can no longer pass residency and citizenship if you cannot pass en English test) Lack of knowledge and Information in host countries eg the laws of the land - Not just treated as ‘heroes’ but actively considered as resources for development and nationhood Some positives from Europe

- Our major tangible contribution: Remittances - But also intangibles (non-monetary contributions): - Did you see Prince Philip’s joke about Filipino nurses running the NHS?


- Every domestic worker is an ambassador for the nation (Lily Piccio, maid to Princess Diana, taught Princes William and Harry some words in Filipino) - We bring knowledge - Brain drain which became brain waste is reversed with brain gain eg thru DOST Balik-Scientist program • Cultural exchanges - EuroFilipinos speaking the tongues of European nations, enriching our own – how would the Philippines benefit from this in a globalizing world? – Remember Miss Saigon? • Sports Development – a good case is the Azkal football team composed of BritishFilipinos, training and developing our youth in football, allowing RP to compete and gain awards in international and regional competitions • Good governance – Filipinos in Europe get exposed to truly democratic values and effective participation in governance, accountability and transparency. These strengthen our own concepts and democratic institutions, including resolving conflict through peaceful means. • Choice of leaders – with 10% of our nation living outside the country, the challenge is to get them to exercise their right of suffrage so that we can make and unmake Presidents, Vice Presidents, Senators, Congressmen and women

Europe… A continent of 50 countries. A total land area of 10.2m square This is our adopted home. kilometres. We work, we serve, A population of 740 million people. We laugh, we cry. An estimated 230 different languages We are the new Europeans. and dialects. We are here to stay A vibrant economy with GDP of US$17.6 Sure of our role as glocal agents of change, trillion in 2011. A growing political, social and economic Rich in heritage, culture, arts, history, force. life. Forever Filipinos. Diverse, multi-racial. With annual remittances of US$3.35 We the Filipinos of Europe, billion 800,000 and rising, are We support our families, our nation. Beginning to speak with one voice. Heed us: we are partners A voice that we want heard. For development, Linked by the European Network of For the future. Filipino Diaspora From the frozen Norwegian tundras in the north Down to the craggy shores of Valetta in the south From the sandy shores of Cascais in the west To the Russian Ural Mountains in the east. North, south, west, east and central.

Editors Note: The above article is courtesy of ENFiD President Gene Alcantara,initially put together by Rohlee de Guzman for AdHoc Committee ENFiD NL, with updates/amendments from Msgr Jerry Bitoon for ENFiD Italy & Malta and by Gene Alcantara for ENFiD-UK Echo Workshop and for the 2nd Global Summit in Manila


Immigrants outnumber OFWs By Cherry Joy Veniles Not every Filipino who leaves the country is an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). The Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) estimates that, as of 2011, 10.44 million Philippine-born Filipinos are residing or working overseas.

The POEA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) regulate the recruitment of OFWs and provide necessary welfare support to returning workers, including victims of recruitment violations and work-related accidents and others in need of emergency relief But the aggregate from data of the assistance. CFO, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the ‘TnTs’ Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Filipinos who are not properly shows permanent migrants exceed, by a documented, without valid residence small but significant margin, OFWs. or work permits, or are overstaying in a foreign country—known as TnTs (tago In 2011, permanent migrants numbering nang tago)—are irregular migrants. 4.86 million accounted for 47 percent of Filipinos abroad. Temporary migrants, Overseas Filipinos remitted $21.6 billion including OFWs, numbered 4.51 million last year, according to the Bangko Sentral or 43 percent. The stock estimate placed ng Pilipinas, and are a constant source of irregular migrants at 1.07 million or 10 income for the Philippines. percent. The CFO stock estimate provides a good Permanent migrants include immigrants, snapshot of the number of Filipinos dual citizenship holders or legal overseas at any given time, taking into permanent residents abroad, whose stay consideration migrant flows. It also clearly does not depend on work contracts. shows that, although the Philippines is internationally recognized for its vast Temporary migrants are those working and diverse human resources, providing abroad and are expected to return to the more than 200 countries and territories Philippines at the end of their contracts. with Filipino skills and talents, it has gone Although most temporary migrants beyond supplying labor. are OFWs, some of them are students, trainees, entrepreneurs, businessmen and Many Filipinos leave for reasons other their dependents who are overseas for at than work. They range from marriage to least six months. family reunification, from educational 30

and business opportunities to professional advancement. Permanent residents and dual citizens can petition relatives in the Philippines. And, with countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia and most of Europe, promoting family reunification, the number of non-OFWs leaving the country is expected to increase over time.

Top destinations

In countries such as Singapore and Saudi Arabia, skilled migrant workers may bring along family members as part of a company’s remuneration package. The top 10 destination countries of Filipinos are the US (33 percent), Saudi Arabia (15 percent), Canada (8 percent), United Arab Emirates (7 percent), Malaysia (5 percent), Australia (4 percent), Qatar (3 percent), Japan (2 percent), United Kingdom (2 percent) and Kuwait (2 percent). An increasing number of OFWs from the Middle East are applying for permanent skilled worker visas in countries such as Canada and Australia.

124 percent increase in irregular migrants in Malaysia (200,000 in 2010 to 447,590 in 2011) and the 67 percent increase in the US (156,000 in 2010 to 260,000 in 2011). The number of Filipinos in Japan decreased by 69,476 (24 percent) mainly because of the natural calamities (earthquake and tsunami) in March 2011. There was a 90-percent decrease in the number of Filipinos in Libya, from 27,349 to 2,724, and a 79-percent decrease of temporary migrants in Syria, from 13,869 to 2,890, because of recent upheavals. Understanding the stock estimate of overseas Filipinos will help the government and the private sector choose where to focus their attention.

For instance, is the DFA justified in its choice of which 11 foreign consulates to close? Can the government bring home all OFWs in case of another unrest in Algeria? Or, if the European economic crisis continues, how many Filipinos and their families would be affected? The numbers are also important for service providers Japan’s policy to issue visas to Nikkei-jins such as remittance companies and banks and their families has contributed to the and even local governments, which will rising number of Filipinos in the country have to plan for the return of OFWs. despite the ban on the deployment of entertainers since 2005. Nikkei-jin refers to Cherry Joy Veniles has more than 10 years Japanese emigrants and their descendants experience in Filipino migration and is the who have established families and outgoing head of the Policy Planning and communities in host countries such as Research Division of the Commission on the Philippines. Irregular migrants could Filipinos Overseas. The above article has be found mainly in the US, Malaysia and appeared in the Philippine Daily Inquirer Singapore. The large increase in their on March 17, 2013 number in 2011 was due primarily to the 31

About 500 meters from Grand Bretagne Hotel, traffic suddenly came to a standstill. It was 10 minutes to 7 in the evening and we were on our way to fetch Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) Director General Lilia B. De Lima. Was there another rally at Syntagma Square? Grand Bretagne is a five- star hotel located in the Square. Or could it be because it had been raining the whole day, or due to the event at the Palace nearby? We struggled to find out what was causing the traffic as we didn’t want to keep DG de Lima, as she was fondly called, waiting. Finally, after driving through detours, we reached the hotel. We never got to know what caused the traffic, which miraculously eased up when we reached the street fronting the Parliament. We were met by a smiling DG who didn’t seem to mind the time. Final destination: Vysantino Taverna, located in Plaka, the old historical neighborhood of Athens. This is a restaurant popular among locals and tourists because of its delicious Greek dishes and reasonable prices.

DG Lilia B. de Lima Philippine Economic Zone Authority General Director attends Business Forum on the Philippines in Thessaloniki By: Milagros F.Viernes 32

As she flipped through the Menu list, DG de Lima exclaimed, “Finally, we’re having Greek food! I’ll try the authentic Greek salad.” Since her arrival in Athens, the Philippine Embassy had taken DG de Lima to several fancy restaurants. This time around, DG was eager to try taverna food. Consul General Charmaine C. Aviquivil hosted the dinner consisting of Greek salad, dolmades, melitzanosalata (eggplant salad) moussaka, and calamares

topped off with dessert of fresh fruits, halva , and yogurt with honey. I joined the dinner to interview DG de Lima about the Business Forum on the Philippines which was held in Thessaloniki on 13 February 2013. The Forum was organized by the Philippine Embassy in cooperation with the Thessaloniki Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) with the help of our Honorary Consul Nikolaos Margaropolous.The Forum brought together members of the business sector in Greece. During the Forum DG de Lima informed the businessmen present that there are significant investment opportunities in the Philippines in the fields of IT, business outsourcing process (BPO) services, the maritime sector and tourism, among others. The interview turned out to be an enlightened discussion of what transpired during the Forum, expectations, and some anecdotes. I could hardly believe I was face to face with a multi-awarded public official whose term as PEZA Director General spans four presidents. She was appointed by President Fidel V. Ramos in 1995 and reappointed by Presidents Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Benigno S. Aquino III. I asked her what could be the reason why she remained as head of PEZA under four presidents of opposing political parties. She smiled and shared some of PEZA’s accomplishments, most significant of which is the creation of 277 operating Economic Zones from 33

about 16 in 1995. Some of these are AgroIndustrial Economic Zones, IT Parks/ Center , and Manufacturing Economic Zones. Were there any changes or adjustments in the policy directions of PEZA imposed by the Presidents or the Secretaries of the Department of Trade and Industry to which PEZA is attached? DG De Lima said PEZA maintained its independence as it successfully pursued its mission and implemented its various programs based on its mandates. Foreign and local investors find the dynamic, responsive and client-oriented ethics of PEZA useful in their operations. As to her assessment of the Business Forum, DG de Lima noted the participants’ lack of knowledge about the Philippines and its people. “Initially, we have to create awareness about the Philippines among the Greeks. We should encourage them to visit our country, make them experience and appreciate our culture, “she said. While this is not the most ideal time to lure Greek investors to the Philippines because of the current economic crisis, she is optimistic that given the right incentives and encouragement, the Greek market will see the bright prospects of investing in the Philippines. “ I consider Information Technology sector as the most promising,” she added

fast turnaround time, no red tape and no corruption. Her no-nonsense approach to corruption in her office supports PNoy’s “daang matuwid” policy. She adheres to the strict implementation of the Anti Graft and Corrupt Practices Act in government. She emphasized that the amount involved does not matter. It may only be 100 pesos, but if it is acquired in violation of the provisions of the Act, then the accused should be penalized to the full extent of the law. She cited one employee who was found guilty of corruption. Although the employee had been with the agency for several years, he was dismissed to show that she meant business when it comes to corruption.

of Commerce and the Filipino-Hellenic Chamber of Commerce which is expected to spur business contacts between the two countries, and 3) generated interest in the Philippines despite the crisis, as manifested by the planned business mission to the Philippines supported by both government and private sector. Throughout the night, as I watched DG de Lima savor the Greek delights, I could see the light side of a successful , humble and unassuming public official. She is also a woman of many talents. She sings, dances and paints. Over a bowl of

salad and yogurt, DG de Lima recounted that the late President Corazon Aquino encouraged her to paint. In fact, she collaborated with President Cory on two paintings which went on exhibit at the Westin Philippine Plaza in 2004, along with 10 of her own paintings. No wonder, she has remained at the helm of PEZA for three decades piloting the agency to its astounding accomplishments. She has turned around PEZA to be one of the biggest earners among Philippine Government Owned and Controlled Corporations.

Back in Athens, DG de Lima met with key government officials, including the Deputy Minister of Development and Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs. She was also able to meet officials of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry at their headquarters in Kolonaki and the Hellenic-Filipino Chamber of Business and Commerce and other key personalities in Greece and the Philippines during a luncheon meeting at the Athens Club sponsored by Philippine Ambassador to Greece Meynardo Lb. Montealegre .

It was the first visit to Greece of a highranking economic official of the Philippine government through the initiative of Ambassador Montealegre. The main achievements of the visit are: 1) spread According to DG de Lima, PEZA offers awareness about the Philippines ; 2) investors very competitive incentives, revitalized the Hellenic-Filipino Chamber 34


On their second day in the alpland of in Switzerland is a number of degrees cheese and chocolate, the first snow of different from the sunny part of the Earth the year greeted six street children from where they were born. the tropics. Weather was just one challenge that When you are homeless in Manila, you Philippine-based Onesimo Bulilit are pre-rehearsed to the cold by sleeping Foundation considered for the under bridges, in the barong-barong performance tour of Basanstrasse 24 in (house built out of found objects) or collaboration with Servants to Asia’s in reclaimed facades and dilapidated Urban Poor-Switzerland. To be able to temporary tenements. The body is even effectively communicate was another built to counter-dialogues with more challenge. than 200 stormy nights in twelve months. However, snow was something new for Basanstrasse 24 (24 Basan Street) is a the children. And indeed, the weather dance-monologue play based on the life

Basanstrasse 24

A Philippine-Swiss Junction Text by Joanna Lerio Photos courtesy of Chrigel Maier and Onesimo Bulilit Foundation 36


of children in Quiapo Manila where Onesimo also found its home in reaching out to children at risk. A result of team conception and patient training in theater, it was first shown in 2011 for Filipino communities. For the Swiss restaging, it is spoken and sung in Filipino with German dubbing and subtitling. The play weaves the characters of Jenny (performed by Jennylyn Victoria), Totoy (Joyamae Clemencio) and Abby (Lizel Lozada). Each has a struggle to tell and dreams to share. In the opening dance Malinis na Trabaho (Decent Work, song by Ernesto Opiasa), children scavenge for food and trash to sell. Their meager yet hard-earned treasures are rudely taken away by three monsters. Abby strongly feels against this nightmare that she invites her fellow children to speak up for hope and progressive change in their life. Basan Rap (text by Marco Silvano and music by Mike Quezon) was an immediate response. Performed by Harold Idao and Aiza Rakim with German rendition by Julien Coray, children question the uncertainty of their future while telling themselves not to remain voiceless and being treated as nothing. The following scenes unravel their survival in a society fettered by poverty and exploitation.

and drug syndication. She survives by vending in the city of high-rise buildings where she experiences hunger, neglect and delusions. Meanwhile, Totoy finds himself in the den of police brutality when he only tried to evade the constant belting from his step-father (Noreel Faller). Alone in his kariton, a wooden push-cart which is also commonly used as shelter by homeless families, Totoy longs for his caring mother (herself a battered wife) and his father (a migrant worker). Opiasa’s song, Bakit Ganito ang Buhay (Why is Life Like This), provides the background in his isolation. Abby shares the same longing as she dances Aking Ina (My Mother by Julie Julz; theme song from the cartoon Remi: The Homeless Boy). Rescued from deprived education, incestuous past and eventual prostitution, Abby is now a young leader who is ready to educate her fellows and rescue them from vulnerabilities in the street. The three found a family among each other along with adult educators (Rechelle Dionaldo, Ferdie Garay and Arnel Villanueva). The next act features a place fit for children as envisioned by Onesimo where children have the freedom to play, study and wholly develop. Before the finale song Ngayon Na (Now is the Time, original composition by Mike Quezon) wherein children released their paper planes of dreams, the young casts reminded the audience of children’s rights and advocacy in a parade of streamers.

The sequences Jenny and Quiapo Bridge (songs by Emmanuel Heitz) reveal how Jenny is orphaned by urban demolition The show was capped with actual 38

testimonial sharing from the children and staff as well as an invitation from Onesimo Executive Director Daniel Wartenweiler for the participation of Swiss people to the children’s cause. He himself has dedicated his capacity to alleviate the situation of urban poor children by living among them and establishing programs such as residential care and educational assistance. Likewise, Onesimo founders Christian and Christine Schneider had immersed among poor families in the Philippines and recollected 13 years of developmental work in the book, Himmel und Strassen Staub: Unser Leben als Familie in den Slums von Manila (Giessen: Brunnen, 2011) with English edition Rubble and Redemption: Finding Life in the Slums of Manila translated by Dagmar Grimm (UK: Piquant, 2012). While migrant Filipino families and individuals spark instant synergy from their first smiling gaze and the following kababayan hugs, it is for people like Wartenweiler and the Schneiders who embraced both cultures that language was not a problem at all in mounting Basanstrasse 24 to a large Swiss audience. The Filipino cultural team was coupled with Swiss staffs who have a heart for the Filipino people and who are very fluent in Filipino language that it was not a hindrance to express in the native tongue the social problems faced by children. Efficiency at work is also laudable among the Swiss.There were limitations however for technical adjustments and artistic

glitz in the actual performance given that the varied venues: churches and halls in Trimmis, Bern, Basel, Bubendorf and Aarau had specific requirements. However, what stood out in the end as most important was the bondage made between the children and the families of Swiss audience. For three weeks from October 26 to November 17, Switzerland, along with the home of Riethmuller family in the SwissFrench border, was a sweet and warm sanctuary for the six Filipino urban poor children.

The author Joanna Lerio may be contacted at


Joanna Lerio is director, choreographer and writer of Basanstrasse 24. She is a cultural worker who conducts advocacy theater workshops for grassroots organizations. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in Theater Arts at the University of the Philippines Diliman. 39

Philippine Center Sweden

Philippine Center Sweden (PCS) is a multipurpose economic cooperative organization approved by the Swedish Companies Registration Office last December 17, 2012 in Stockholm, Sweden. Its primary aim is to enhance cooperation and synergy between Sweden and the Philippines in many areas of interest, like cultural, commercial, educational etc.

Education, with the main purpose of creating awareness about the many opportunities available, that may generate business partnerships, cultural and educational exchanges as well as other ventures.

The Board of Directors, photographed above, are from left to right, Caroline Fredriksson - Vice President, Evangeline Jorquia - Treasurer, Tommy Malkan - CEO, PCS in collaboration with private companies, Rachel Hansen - President and Mona Dara government entities and institutions, as well - Secretary. as with those engaged in culture, media and travel will organize regular activities, Application forms for membership will soon be available at PCS website at meetings and projects, within the areas of Trade, Tourism, Cultural/Sports and 40

78 OFWs in Greece complete Skills Enhancement Training by Milagros F.Viernes A total of 78 Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), including this writer, graduated from the Skills Enhancement Training conducted by the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) / Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO ), Philippine Embassy in Athens for the Fall season 2012. The three-month training included Mediterranean Cooking, Caregiving and Basic Greek Language

courses. The graduation ceremony was held at the President Hotel on 27 January 2013. In his keynote address, Philippine Ambassador to Greece Meynardo Lb. Montealegre congratulated the graduates for successfully completing the courses. “Ako ay natutuwa na marami ang nagpakita ng interest sa pagpapabuti ng 41

emphasized that the aim of the training is to upgrade the skills of the OFWs and make them world class. This will transform them into a higher -level work category so that they can demand higher salaries. “With the training, hopefully they will The Ambassador also commended not remain household helps forever, “ he OWWA and POLO for the effective added. implementation of its various programs and services for the benefit of OFWs in MS. Glenda Cortado, who graduated at the Greece. He cited the upcoming programs top of the Caregiving class, delivered her such as entrepreneurship and techno- impression of the training on behalf of the transfer trainings aimed at encouraging other graduates. “Through these programs the OFWs to invest in the Philippines and we gained additional knowledge and thus contribute to the enhancement of our enhanced our capabilities, thus making us economy. more globally competitive and empowered individuals. And with these skills we can Philippine Labor Attache Romulo V. Salud have better work opportunities,” she said. inyong mga sarili at pagpapalawig ng inyong mga kaalaman at kakayahan,” he said. He expressed hope that the short courses will pave the way for their empowerment and upliftment.

She thanked the instructors, Mrs. Hope Torres-Tigas ( Caregiving class), Ms. Styliani Chatzopoulou, (Basic Greek Language class), and Chef Juli Anne Guevarra ( Mediterranean Cooking class) for their patience and for selflessly imparting to them their knowledge and experiences. Ms. Cortado enrolled in the Caregiving and Basic Greek Language courses. Ms. Rona Sheila Gogolin, another graduate who completed the requirements of Mediterranean Cooking course thanked the Philippine government for its support to the OFWs through the skills

training program. “Today we rejoice over the thought that even if we go back to our home country, we will not be totally helpless because we have been equipped with skills to improve our service. The cooking techniques and recipes we learned will help us if we decide to start our own food business,” she said. “The lessons we learned in Greek class will enable us to communicate well with our employers, co-workers and people we meet in our day- to- day activities,” she added. Another graduate, Ms. Scarlet Tugbo said, “ Sa loob ng 1 ½ years ko dito ay sobrang thankful ako dahil sa dami ng aking natutunan na puede kong gamitin sa aking pagbabalik sa Pilipinas. “ As a graduate of the Basic Greek language class myself, I can attest to the importance of the lessons we learned. At least now I can understand and read some Greek words which I apply in my daily interactions in the workplace. The instructors likewise, had good things to say about the skills training program. Ms. Styliani Chatzopoulou, who has been teaching Basic Greek Language since it was offered six years ago, noted dozens of OFWs have benefited, developing their skill in using the Greek language at work and in the community. “Being able to speak Greek gives them the competitive edge when applying for new work placements around the country,” she said. “The aim of the program is to introduce Greek language to beginners and



provide them with basic skills for their communication in everyday life. It is not only a language lesson but is also a brief introduction to Greek culture in order to help our students cope with Greek reality,” Ms. Chatzopoulou said.

need for a caregiving course; care of the elderly, children, and chronically ill ( those with diabetes, those who are recovering from stroke, etc.). The students are also taught how to take body temperature, blood pressure and other first aid skills.

She expressed joy for the opportunity to teach the students because of their willingness to learn , their kindness and their commitment. “These serve as my inspiration. I enjoy teaching Greek to Filipinos,” she exclaimed. Ms. Chatzopoulou finished History and Archaeology from the University of Athens and Master of Arts in Early Modern History from the University of Sheffield, United Kingdom.

The lesson on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR ) was given by trainors from PNOE ( Friends of Children on Intensive Care), an NGO.It consisted of four hours hand-on training.

Ms. Tigas devotes her time to helping her kababayans who are working in Athens because she believes people should not stop learning. She cites one of her favorite Chinese proverbs, “ If you give a fish to a man, he will eat for a day. If you teach him The Caregiving Class was under Mrs. Hope how to fish, he’ll eat forever.” Torres-Tigas, a BS Nursing graduate from Siliman University, with postgraduate studies in Intensive Care (US) and MBA on Strategic Health Management from the University of Kent at Canterbury. According to her, the Caregiving course started way back in the year 2000. There were two classes during the year, one in winter and another in summer with about 50-60 enrollees every time. The graduates, many of them mothers and daughters, used their caregiving skills in looking for more lucrative jobs outside Greece. Many of the graduates found jobs in Canada as caregivers. Ms. Tigas said the module included history of caregiving as a discipline- how caregiving evolved and why there was a 44

The new set of officers of the Women’s Volleyball Team are from left to right Stephanie Nieminen – Alternate Auditor, Helen Paglicawan-Manalo-Vice Chairperson, Rica Nyberg - Chairperson, Liza Tarcena- Secretary, Lynn Maghari- Peace Officer, Kimberly Tornea – Auditor and Jo Gasolasco-Peace Officer

The United Pinoy Sports League of Finland holds regular tournaments to promote good health, friendship and understanding among its members By Anne Tafalla The United Pinoy Sports League (UPSL) was launched by the Filipino community in Finland under the Presidency of Mr.Ronel Omandam last February 2 this year. Four teams of men`s basketball were represented, among them was, the Rockers under the management of Mr.Dennis Manalo (the vice president of UPSL), The Cooks, the Espoo group and the Avila team. The tournaments will be an ongoing event.

combine efforts aim to strengthen the relationships of each players to enhance their talents and to build a strong camaraderie. With regular practice and discipline, this group will surely develop their potential to be good players, heartily enjoying the game more than winning tournaments should be their goal. Starting this month , tournaments will be taking place and for funding it was agreed that every player contribute a small amount of money for the registration and for the use The Women`s Volleyball team elected of the sports facilities.. their officers based on their competence to manage and guide the players to Under this new management, the the true essence of sportsmanship. Rica tournaments will be well-organised Nyberg was elected Chairperson, Helen and more fun for every players and Paglicawan-Manalo Vice-Chairperson, the audiences as well. Doing sports Glarys Kari, Treasurer, ,Liza Tarcena, away from home promotes friendship, Secretary, Kimberly Tornea, Auditor, understanding and good health, as well Stephanie Nieminen, Alternate-Auditor, as it builds confidence, and contributes to Jo Gasolasco and Lynn Maghari are the the well-being and fun to the life of the Peace-Officers. community. The new selected officers with their We wish all the players Good luck! 45

the Philippines was recently awarded the “Best Tourist Destination" and “Most Romantic Destination" by a news daily in Shanghai while the World Bank declared the Philippines as the “World’s Center of Marine Biodiversity."

During the event, Miss Earth 2012 TerezaFajksova, who is from the Czech Republic, spoke about her wonderful experiences when she was in the Philippines competing for the Miss Earth 2012 title. She described the Philippines as a “country of smiles." Ambassador Garcia expressed hopes The press conference was also attended by that the finalists will enjoy the sun, previous Miss Czech winners, journalists, sand and sea during their stay in the and fashion editors. Philippines as a welcome break from the winter weather in the Czech Republic. The 10 finalists were in the Philippines She also expressed hope that they would in the last week of January, where they discover the warmth, the unfading smile visited the Palawan Underground River, and hospitality of the Filipino people. Cebu, as well as the nation’s capital, She thanked the Philippine and Czech Manila. organizers, partners and sponsors of the Miss Czech Republic’s visit to the The Miss Czech Republic finals will be Philippines. held on the 23rd of March 2013.

The Philippines hosts Miss Czech Republic finalists by Rebecca Garcia On 22 January 2013, a send-off press conference was held for the Miss Czech Republic 2013 finalists Le Patio Restaurant in Prague.

the Miss Czech Republic finalists during an auspicious year when the two countries are marking the 40th anniversary of the establishment of Philippine-Czech diplomatic relations. She noted that the Philippine Ambassador to the Czech future of the Philippines is projected to be Republic Evelyn D. Austria-Garcia was bright, both in the economic and tourism invited to grace the occasion for the 10 fields. finalists of the Miss Czech Republic.In her remarks, Ambassador Garcia expressed She shared with the journalists attending pleasure over the Philippines’ hosting of the press conference the good news that 46


Dancing with Russel Obusan Wisden

British-Filipino Flamenco Dancer (plus composer, singer, beatbox artist, hip-hop street dancer, guitarrist, scuba diver, etc) Leni dlR. Garcia, MA, PhD

I saw him peeping through the glass panel of the classroom door one early morning about three years ago, while I was busy lecturing my students on the benefits of accomplishing their reading assignments before coming to class. I therefore wasn’t in a pleasant mood and was a bit irritated at being disturbed. Nevertheless, seeing that it wasn’t a casual look-see—because he wasn’t leaving and was obviously trying to catch my attention—I walked over to the


door, pushed it open and gave him what I thought was my most intimidating look as I haughtily asked, “What do you want?” Perhaps taken aback, yet still undaunted, the 20-year old British Filipino, Russell Wisden, explained to me in a very polite but firm way how,in his inquiry about people who danced Flamenco in school, he was led to me. Could I endorse his proposal to establish a Flamenco group?

Dancing, especially Flamenco, is to me, like ink is to a fountain pen. It feeds me so I can function well. It is, in many ways, my lifeline. And so Russell had me at “flamenco,” but I couldn’t let him know that, could I? Being a head shorter than him (even in what he later on described as Flamenco-looking high-heeled shoes, and Flamenco-flowered pony tail that added inches to my height—that’s why he was sure I was the one he was looking for) I therefore had to restrain my urge to jump up and down in joy. Instead, I tried to intimidate him some more. I jutted out my chin at him, and squinting my eyes, asked, “Are you any good?” By the way he stepped back and faintly stammered, he most definitely did not expect that question from me. Yet, he said, “Miss, I studied in Spain.”

As it happened, I gave him my contact number and told him in the most imperious way I could muster, to join me in an upcoming performance and to meet with me for rehearsal. But work got in the way and I never was able to have time for rehearsal. It was therefore much later, when I was pressed for another Flamenco number that I thought of contacting Russell. I, most certainly, did not expect anything like him. He danced like he was playing, tapping his feet in a most complicated zapateo (or sometimes, zapateado, Flamenco dance footwork) I’ve seen live then, and yet, it seemed like it was the most natural thing he ever did. There was no effort at all in the way he executed his sample choreography. After seeing him


dance for a short while, I thought I ought never to dance again. Russell loves hearing me narrate this story of how we met to all who, after seeing us dance together, ask how it came to be that he was dancing with me. Most of them do not know that the question should be: how in the world did I manage to dance with him? I am the proverbial moth attracted to the flame—and a blaze he is when he dances. Nevertheless, I have gotten close to him over the years and luckily, I haven’t really been burned. On the contrary, I have only been drawn so much more to Flamenco, because Russell has always been generous with his talents.

Wisdens, Russell spent his childhood in Singapore with his elder sister Rosanna, and baby sister Rosvera, both Flamenco dancers as well. It was a sort of a halfway haven between Great Britain and the Philippines where their British father, John,could practice his maritime profession as captain, while his mother,Emma Obusan, engaged in maritime related business. Later on, the family decided to establish their base in the Philippines and, as dual citizens,they regularly travel not just to Singapore but also to Europe and the United States, as well as Canada, where Rosanna now studies for her undergraduate degree. The middle and only male child of the Russell came to Flamenco in 2009 when


his mom—Tita Emma, as I now fondly call her—tricked him into taking 24 sessions of the dance at a Flamenco school in Makati. Having all female classmates and a female teacher in the class, he hated the sessions and could not wait for it to be over. But his mom persisted, and patiently brought him and his sisters to dance lessons. Tita Emma’s efforts paid off, because Russell, on the last of those 24 sessions, saw a zapateo that finally got him hooked. It was then that his father sent him to Spain to learn from the Flamenco icons of Madrid and Granada. Russell’s love for Flamenco can be gleaned from the easy way he absorbs all elements of this particular art that he sees. When talking to him, whether on campus, in the mall or anywhere one finds him,

he would simply burst into a zapateo or demonstrate a new combination of palmas (rhythmic clapping) while oblivious to the stares and wonderment of people passing by.And he could also out-talk anyone, sharing so passionately all that he knows and discovers about the art of Flamenco. Russell regularly performs at a prestigious local bar in Makati, Philippines and in Singapore where he is often invited as a guest artist. Perhaps, it’s because he has, through his mother, the genes of the Obusans, from where the National Artist for Dance, Ramon Obusan came. Perhaps, it’s because his love for the dance is pure. Whatever it is, Russell takes Flamenco to heart and, luckily, this particular art form


is also comfortable in him as a vessel. But Flamenco is not the only art Russell thrives in. He is also a beatbox artist, hiphop/street dancer, singer and composer, and has won several first prizes in various talent competitions. As a musician, he is very comfortable with the guitar, playing not only Flamenco songs but also classical and popular ones. He is also well-versed in the playing of the cajon, a wooden box drum which is a staple in Flamenco art, drumming out different kinds of compas(the rhythmic beat) for the guitarra(Flamenco guitar-playing) and the baile(dance). To top this all off, he is also a licensed scuba diver. In 2010, Russell spent a good part of the year in Wales learning to be a pilot. His

love for Flamenco can only be equaled by his love for flying. There he obtained his private pilot license in four months, doing cross country flights on his own, when others would take a couple of years to do so. Talking with him long distance then, I thought he would manage to live in the sky, doing tricks with a plane the way he’d do tricks with his dancing. He came back to the Philippines only to finish his ABEconomics/BS-Legal Management doubledegree course while working toward obtaining his license in commercial flying. In school, he is also an active member of the legislative wing of the University Student Government, trying to change the system for better governance in the future. With these in his hands, Russell can only go on reaching new heights as he dances—and flies—his way into the future. After all,

having Europe and Asia as his home gives him a wider horizon in which to move around and try out different possibilities. Russell now teaches technique, choreography and cajon-playing at several Flamenco schools, including the one that I attend. And so in the end, the boy I tried to shoo away from my classroom door became my maestro. But amidst all the fanfare, Russell remains simple, polite and humble, even if sometimes possessed by the urge to throw a healthy amount of good, clean mischief around—which makes him such a fun person to be with. When I asked him to articulate his passion for Flamenco and flying, he said, “I can’t really find the words to explain the feeling of it…but I do love it. [Maybe it’s] the feeling of enjoyment while dancing? Flying has the same feeling…I can’t really define it but I also enjoy it so much.” Perhaps, pure enjoyment—like what we see in children at play—cannot really be expressed in words, as it takes one’s whole being, and all dichotomies between what one is and what one does disappear. That’s also

probably why Flamenco and flying come so naturally to Russell. To me, it always seems like he’s merely playing…and it is always beautiful. I wondered one time how he envisions his future to be and he said, “I know I’m facing so many good options in life…I could be a pilot. Perhaps, I could do much better with my passion for Flamenco. I could be much more involved with music or maybe be a diving instructor? Or eventually become a lawyer or a politician…These are all good possibilities, but for now I am happy with what I am doing in school and with my co-curriculars outside of university life.” There is an epigram that says, “Jack of all trades, but expert in none.” Well, here is a Jack of all trades, and expert in all. I just feel lucky that I am witnessing all that Russell is and have the opportunity to learn a little from him. As to what he’s eventually going to become, as he said, there are all these options.Who ever said that he has to choose only one?

Leni dlR. Garcia, M.A., Ph.D. teaches Philosophy at the De La Salle University-Manila, with research tracks in Eastern thought and Continental Philosophy, two areas that allow her to enrich her life in the academe with excursions into the world of dance, theatre, poetry, visual arts, and crafts. She believes that as Philosophy informs the mind, the body is shaped by engagement with the world through creativity. Only in a dance where the dichotomy of body and mind is dissolved can one’s being be whole and real.Leni currently researches on philosophy’s role in genocides, on the aesthetics of classical ballet, flamenco, and tribal dances, as well as on alternative epistemologies and non-Western ontologies. In her spare time, she shapes clay, folds paper, paints, writes, dances, strings beads and knits yarns. 52


Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia & The Nordic Regions Beauty Pageant Celebrated Filipino Culture by Grace Vasquez

The first edition of Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia & The Nordic regions (MPSN) Beauty Pageant with representatives from Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland set foot in Oslo, Norway last February 8-9, 2013. hopefuls from Denmark, Sweden, Norway Marie VirgeniaCecilieMolo Peter, 22, of and Iceland. Fredrikstad, Norway, was named Mutyang Nordic 2013, while Nazita Guevarra Marie Peter, who stands 5’8 tall hails from Reyhanian, 23, of Stockholm, Sweden was Tangalan, Aklan and a second runnercrowned Mutya ng Scandinavia 2013. They up in Miss Universe Norway 2012 held in will represent the Filipino communities Oslo, Norway. She has an International in the Nordics in the Mutya ng Pilipinas Baccalaureate diploma from Münchner national pageant this year. The two newly- Volkshochschule in Munich, Germany. crowned queens bested 12 other beauty She speaks Norwegian, English, German,

The Winners


Tagalog and Aklanon. Her interests in Filipiniana; Ásdís Lísa Karlsdóttir, include politics, travel and books. Miss Popularity and Best in Swimsuit; Isabella de Leon, 20, from Denmark, Miss Nazita Reyhanian Guevarra, who stands Photogenic; and, Elin Montejo Skei, 18, of 6’0 tall, was born and raised in Sweden Norway, Best in Talent. by her Filipino mother and Persian father. She has a Bachelor in Business and The Pageant Information Technology and is currently Pre-pageant night was held in Bekkelaget, taking a Master’s Degree in Computer and Oslo last February 8 and showcased the System Science at Stockholm’s University. beauty and talents of the candidates in the She is a professional basketball player. Swimsuit and Talent competitions. The audience and the judges were entertained Other winners were Ásdís Lísa Karlsdóttir by dance routines from belly-dances, from Iceland, 20, first runner-up; Cherie- modern folkdances to hiphop; and, Filipino Eila Evensen from Norway, 18, second rap singing. Two of the candidates showed runner-up; and Noelle Sunshine Francisco off their talents in football and basketball from Sweden, 19, second runner-up. by performing choreographed “ball” dances. Elin Montejo Skei, 18, of Norway, Special awards went to Marie Peter, Best won Best in Talent. Her vibrant and high55

energy zumba belly dancing impressed raffia fabric and flowerettes made of dried the judges and kept the audience and the water hyacinth fibers and water lilies and embellished with non-precious gems and judges on their feet. pearls. The gown was designed and made Coronation night was held in Storsalen, Oslo by Enrique Maaño not just to be worn but the following day and highlighted Filipino to share a piece of Filipino culture. The talent par excellence. Vienna-based Filipino gown was adorned with an umbrella and tenor Abdul Candao, the Philippines’ a hand-painted rice field scenery and a original Queen of Souls Ella May Saison, house made of bamboo and anahaw leaves Pop/R&B singer and songwriter Marvin commonly known in the Philippines as a Estrella and multitalented freestyle dancer bahaykubo. Ricky Carranza provided world-class performances on stage during the pageant. Guest speaker for the evening, Philippine Ambassador to the Nordic countries Completing the bevy of artistic talents H.E. Bayani S. Mercado welcomed the were local performers Likha Scandinavia beauty pageant as a “tool to promote our Cultural Group, Fusion hiphop duo country and its culture, to give visibility and pop singer Gladys Javier. Likha to the Philippines to the parts of the world Scandinavia’s heartrending dance tribute where we are hardly known, like here to the Filipino people inspired awe and in the Nordic region. I am confident that imbued a sense of pride among the Filipino events like this will generate awareness audience. Mutya ng Pilipinas Asia Pacific of the Philippines and tourism. Tourism International 2006/Miss Norway-Universe generates jobs. It is the major thrust of 2007 Kirby Ann Basken and L.A. based the Philippine government to have more R&B singer Marvin Estrella together with tourists come to the Philippines.” To the Mutyang Norway 2011 Maria Bergersen winners, he said, “I hope you will be ideal hosted the affair. ambassadors of goodwill for the Nordic and the Philippines and that you will The candidates opened Pageant Night represent the best of our two cultures, with an energetic production number to the Filipino and Nordic cultures. And the music of “Hotter than fire,” which got looking at the young ladies tonight, I have the crowd going and got the candidates no doubt that they are indeed the best of excited about being there. The Filipiniana the fusion between the Filipino and the gown presentation was a visual feast. All Nordic cultures.” the girls looked gorgeous and elegant in their exquisite Filipiniana creations Among the members of the MPSN designed by some of the Philippines’ board of judges were Patrick John U. best talents in fashion.Best in Filipiniana Hilado, Minister and Consul General of recipient Marie Peter wore a gown made of the Embassy of the Philippines in Oslo; 56

Abdul Candao, Europe’s first Filipino tenor vocalist; Mrs. Philippines-Norway 1997 Helen Jensen; and MPSN’s major sponsors: Roberto Vasquez, entrepreneur and owner of Roberto Hairdressing; Raquel Middleton, Relationship Manager, Xpress Money Services Ltd. based in the U.K.; Mabie Villano Curaming, Marketing Manager of AyalaLand International Marketing based in Milan, Italy; and, fundraiser Patricia Easley from Palos Verdes, California.

About MPSN

for projects that would benefit the less fortunate members of Philippine society. Part of the proceeds received in this year’s pageant will help fund MPSN’ college scholarships to the academically meritorious but financially needy young Filipino students in the Philippines. Today, MPSN is managed principally by an Executive Committee, comprising of distinguished and well-respected personalities from various sectors of the Filipino communities in Norway.

The MPSN’s mission is simple: Beauty, Brains and Beauty for a cause. In other words, beauty corresponds to responsibility to oneself, to the society and to the world.

Cooperating Organizations: - Roots & Wings, Sweden - Buklod-Denmark - Mutyang Iceland Incorporated - Filipino Society in Lofoten - Filipino Association of Mid-Norway The MPSN aims to: - Philippine Honorary Consulate, Stavanger - provide the young people of the Nordic - PalarongPinoy, Rogaland countries a cultural arena where theycan - Filipino Association in Rogaland display their talents, build confidence and (Pictures courtesy of Mio S. Reyes) improve self-esteem in whatever they are good at - be it hosting, acting, modeling or becoming a beauty ambassador - give the young women of the Nordic countriesan opportunity to go back to their Filipino roots and learn more about their Filipino heritage. The MutyangPilipinas Organization in the Philippines is the first national pageant that recognizes the Filipino ancestry of our children and allows them to join the national pageant - be recognized as a prestigious fundraiser 57

The Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia and the Nordics contest was held in Oslo, Norway in February of this year. Nazita Reyhanian Guevarra took the crown Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia back to Sweden. Nazita and I met in a café in central Stockholm. She is stunning, has a beautiful smile and a warm spirit. We began to talk about her background. Nazita was born in Sweden on the 14th of April 1989 to a Filipina mother and a Persian father. She is the youngest of her family with two older sisters and one older brother. One tangible characteristic Nazita has had since a young age is her long height, which she has inherited from her father’s side of the family. Today she stands at an exquisite 6 feet tall. Her height was albeit not always something she viewed as positive. In her adolescence it impacted her self-esteem and confidence as she oftentimes was much taller than friends and even boys her age. Luckily, boys have now gotten taller and she learned to embrace her height with a positive light.

The Journey of

Nazita Reyhanian Gueverra Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia By Hanna Stenbacka 58

She currently studies a Masters Degree in Computer System & Science at Stockholm University. Her courses include theory, working with databases, process modeling, and several programs. The Masters program prepares you to work as a business controller or analyst. During her free time she plays a basketball professionally.

should pursue modeling, she never thought she would be doing something remotely near it. Nazita was contacted to join the Mutya ng Sweden competition in Stockholm. She was somewhat surprised that she was asked but very willing to join the competition. In preparation for the competition she had to attend to the hard task of finding a cocktail dress and a long gown in the cold winter season. She had to also face her fears of talking on stage in front of a large audience. An underlying uncertainty of losing her words kept her on her toes. The Mutya ng Sweden competition consisted of a dance, interview questions, an act with a cocktail dress, and an act with a long gown. Nazita won the title “Miss Charming”. Nazita then had the chance to continue to Mutya ng Pilipinas Scandinavia and the Nordics in Oslo, Norway. Three girls in total travelled to Norway from Swedenthe other two Swedish contestants being Noelle Sunshine Fransisco and Emma Ribot Ekberg.

The train ride was long from Oslo to Stockholm. On a Thursday afternoon they arrived at their hotel. The competition was held during two days, Friday and Saturday. On Friday the ladies presented themselves in their cocktail dresses. Next was the swimwear act. All the girls had to wear a navy blue swimming suit on stage. All of the girls were somewhat Although she had often heard that she nervous before this act was done. 59

The third portion of the competition consisted of talent. Back in Sweden, Nazita wasn’t really sure what her talent would be. Should she do a Persian/Arab dance? She felt she didn’t however have that much trained insight into it. An idea however crystallized and she realized she should incorporate her passion of

basketball into her talent. She composed a basketball routine combined with upbeat music. After basketball practices back in Sweden she would practice her routine. There were some concerns that she had however. First, was the stage going to be hollow? How much space would she have to her disposal? The talent went

wonderfully in Oslo. Her talent act begins with her dribbling one ball, and then an audience member throws in a second ball to the stage. Watching her, it is clear that she is comfortable playing basketball. Her talent encompasses passion, power and beauty all at once. Saturday, the second day of the competition consisted of the dance composed by Sanny, the Filipino choreographer. The ladies had received a video prior to the competition and were to practice the dance steps. Another act included the wearing of a filipinana. Of course, there was a question and answer portion. Each candidate was required to come up with a question which would later be asked to another candidate. Nazita received the question “Are you proud to be a Filipina, yes or no?” Nazita responded that she is most definitely proud to be a Filipina. To her, the Philippines is a beautiful country with warm and welcoming people. After all the various portions were complete top 5 was chosen out of the total 14 candidates. Despite an outstanding performance on Nazitas part, she barely believed when she heard that she was top 5 of the competition. While waiting anxiously she actually thought she had placed several positions lower. In the mist of declaring the top two candidates, she heard that she was voted Mutya ng Scandinavia. Nazita describes that she was in shock when she understood she that she had won the title. The other


candidate with a top title was Norweigan Marie Molo Peter, who received Mutya ng Nordic. What does the short-term future of this beauty queen look like? Part of the win in Norway was a trip to the Philippines this summer to continue to Mutya ng Pilipinas. “That is going to be an even bigger event and I am very excited about travelling there,” Nazita says with a smile. While in the Philippines she hopes she will be able to participate in community service projects around the country. Basketball season is over but in preparation for the next level of the Mutya contest Nazita keeps herself active and healthy by going to the gym several times a week. She is doing research on the Philippines and pageants and is preparing mentally for the competition. After winning she learned an invaluable lesson- you should never underestimate yourself. “I am so glad that I did this. I doubted myself but I did well!” Why she won the title is undeniable. Her mixed beauty, exotic features, height, and innovative talent helped her along the way. Doing this interview I realized many more things were unambiguously certain- her humbleness, kindness, class and intelligence had also helped her come so far in this journey. “Thank you everyone who helped me, Tita Caroline, my family and everyone else!”


A Travel Diary Six weeks in the Philippines by Carl Z. Hansen The last time I was in the Philippines, I was twelve years old. Together with my Mom, my Dad and my little sister we spent weeks of our winter holiday at fantastic beach resorts in Boracay, Cebu, Dakak, Guimaras. Coming from northern Europe, I remember I was almost blinded by the brightness of the Philippine sun.

for a six-week visit. Arriving in Manila in the middle of January, I was surprised at how pleasant the weather was, 24 degrees C, compared to the freezing temperature in Stockholm, Sweden, which I am used to at this time of the year.

I spent the first three days in my mother’s friends condo, a place they call Bonifacio Fast forward, ten years later, I went back Global City, or The Fort, very modern, 62


very safe and tame, the first evening, I walked around until midnight and felt at home right away! Trees and flowering bushes lined the high street and rows of tempting restaurants were hard to resist. Everybody was so relaxed, laughing, eating, playing. The shops made me think I was back in Europe. The place even had a Mind Museum!

pineapples, pomelos, mangosteen, even the intoxicating smell of durian, and those bright exotic flowers you never thought ever existed! I’ve been told this is the week-end destination of city dwellers and also the place for organic food farming plus they grow the best coffee! Two days in Tagaytay was good enough for me.


A smooth one hour ride by airplane model Bombardier from Manila to Caticlan. Then a 5- minute tricyle ride to the ferry. Fifteen minutes ferry crossing.Boracay has many diving schools. All licensed and approved by the authorities. My first dive- veryvery exciting! Got my diving certificate after four days, hooray, more diving. I guess

What a haven! Less than 1,5 hours by car from Manila. Beautiful rolling hills, cool breezes, so green everywhere, like an Avatar, like a natural wellness center, abundant fruits I’ve never tasted before but really enjoyed, like milky star apples, juicy guayabanos, very sweet



I can just dive forever like this! A few blisters in my feet grounded me for a few days. The best way to see Boracay is by walking up and down the almost 5 kilometers of sugar-white velvety beach, lined with endless rows of restaurants, shops, yoga and wellness centers. One can hear European languages being spoken everywhere, Norwegian, Danish, Italian, French, German, Russian. One Swedish lady, Eva Backlund, told me she spends 60 days in Boracay every year – it will be a catastrophe not to do so. She not only loves the Philippines, in fact she wants to die in the Philippines. Quote, unquote. Blisters finally gone, I went diving again. I

discovered night diving is more colourful and more magical. After twelve days, it was time to move on to find another island adventure


First I had to fly to Cebu, then transfer to a smaller airplane to get to the island of Siargao, an island discovered by the Europeans. The surfing capital of the Philippines?Probably. For me, it was another paradise, so peaceful, so friendly people, and the food was great, my first taste of raw fish or “kilawin” an out of this world food. I guess it is because it was so


fresh, straight from the sea, prepared with Four days of fantastic diving. Guess I have love and pride. to go back to Manila soon. My mom is there hoping to see a glimpse of me, her You may think surfing looks easy but not only son. really. As a skier and snow-boarder, I am used to balancing with my arms and legs Private lesson in Arnis but surfing is something else. The waves, I’ve heard that arnis is the national martial they have to be perfect! And you have to arts of the Philippines, using a pair of be on time, for they are gone before you wooden sticks as the only tools. I was know it. extremely lucky to get private lessons with a master, named Manny Dacanay, My dream is to become a good surfer who I found out later was a top Architect someday. but practices Arnis as his favorite hobby. I learned not only concentration and After twelve days, it was time to look for precision, but also respect and discipline. another exciting island adventure. Unfortunately, after three days of arnis lessons, I had to stop, as the six weeks Puerto Galera holiday was over (already?) and I had to Just 1,5 hour car ride from Manila and I fly back to Sweden. BUT, I shall return. was at a seaport in Batangas, I took the Sooner than you think. one-hour ferry ride to Puerto Galera. To do more diving.Another wonderful diving Mom, why did you not teach me how to experience, just about five minutes from speak Filipino? the shore, one can start diving already.


Profile for Roots and Wings

Roots & Wings Spring Issue 2013  

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

Roots & Wings Spring Issue 2013  

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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