MANILA – The relationship between Italy and the Philippines is expected to further flourish in the years to come, banking on their deep people-to-people connection that spans decades if not centuries, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Marco Clemente said.
The two states are committed to continue bridging the Filipino and Italian people while doubling efforts to expand cooperation in various areas, be it on arts and culture, education, defense, or the economic field, Clemente said while reintroducing to the public the book “Philippine-Italy: Rising Together” on Oct. 12.
“This book is about our culture exchanges and how it has affected our political relations, hugely because politics comes after the cultural bonds between two nations,” he said. “We wouldn't be such good friends, politically, economically if we hadn’t had these strong cultural bonds. This is something which makes us really different from other countries.”
For Clemente, the more than 167,000 Filipinos living and working in Italy and the fact that both states are Christian-majority countries serve as “important elements” of the relations between the two states.
“Everything we experience now, and everything you read in this book, is actually an effect of a strong cultural relationship," he said.
The coffee table book was launched in August to mark the 75th year of diplomatic relations between Italy and the Philippines.
It covers a wide range of topics and highlights the role of Italian writer and explorer Antonio Pigafetta, who accompanied Ferdinand Magellan on his historic first circumnavigation of the world and set foot as the first Italian national on the archipelago later to be called Las Islas Pilipinas or “The Philippines.”
It also includes an English translation of the section of Pigafetta's memoirs "The First Voyage around the World" exclusively devoted to the Las Islas Pilipinas.
The book, which can also be accessed for free online, features a series of articles written by experts on Pigafetta's life and work in Italy and the Philippines.
In one article titled Pigafetta and his Journey, Association of Italians in the Philippines founder Giordano Galante described the Italian author as the “best man to be in that exploration,” as he approached the Filipinos “with the culture that he brings with him and that had formed him up” before being recruited by Magellan.
“He became (an) example of (the) relationship necessary for a correct way in approaching new populations and cultures. Filipino people know this well,” Galante wrote.
“Antonio Pigafetta, the bearer of Italian culture, as we said before, becomes the first Italian to set foot on the Philippine territory, but bringing with him that culture and respect that reflected the teaching and feelings of his homeland, showing everyone how to introduce themselves in new relationships, and thus anticipating the phenomenon that for centuries, it marked the meaning of the Italian presence in this country, and which is still celebrated today with this 75th anniversary of friendly relations between Italy and the Philippines.”
Aside from the book launch, the Embassy of Italy in the Philippines plans to roll out a series of events on education, language, and performing arts that target the marginalized communities in Metro Manila.
The embassy said it also plans to offer scholarship opportunities to Filipino students to help them fortify their careers with the help of Italian education.
The physical copy of the Philippine-Italy: Rising Together book is not for sale, but a digital version may be accessed for free at the Italian Embassy in Manila’s website. (PNA)