Ambassador Gijsbert Anton Boon von Ochssée : Pushing for PH Trade with the EU

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AMBASSADOR Gijsbert Anton Boon von Ochssee—The Netherlands ambassador to the Philippines—believes Manila is ready for business with the European Union. “International business is..where the Philippines belongs,” von Ochssee told reporters during a trade conference in Cebu last month. Von Ochssée said that among the areas of cooperation that can be discussed between the EU and the Philippines includes the economy, environment and social approaches, which are important to the business community.

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“If you look at the Philippines by its growing population (and) growing business, you have to be more mindful about the environment, more mindful about the social aspects,” von Ochssée said. Dutch firms, in particular, have also expressed keen interest in taking advantage of the collaboration opportunities with local companies, specifically in the fields of energy, agriculture, water, and water management. The Netherlands and the Philippines can boost knowledge and technology exchange to expand partnership, von Ochssée added.

The Philippine government has been pursuing efforts that would allow it to strategically position itself to further boost trade and investments with Europe. These efforts include moves to start negotiating for free trade agreements with the EU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and to apply for qualification under the European Union’s new Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) scheme or GSP+.

Trade Decline

Data from the EU showed that EU-Philippines trade declined by 4 percent to 9.9 billion euros in 2012, due partly to global slowdown in the electronics sector. At 9.9 billion euros, however, EU-Philippines trade is nearly back to its pre-crisis level in 2007, according to the EU. In terms of bilateral trade in 2012 between the 27 EU member states with the Philippines, three out of the Philippines’ six main EU trade partners (namely Germany, Netherlands, France, UK, Italy and Belgium) registered trade surpluses, while 17 registered trade deficits.

In terms of foreign direct investments, the EU remains the largest investment partner of the Philippines with its total stock of investments rising further to 7.6 billion euros as of end-2011. The EU is also the fifth largest host of land-based migrant Filipinos and remains the largest employer of Filipino seafarers. Filipino migrants living and working in the EU as well as Filipino seafarers manning European ships, together sent US$2.8 billion (2 billion EUR) to the Philippines in 2012, making the EU the second largest source of remittances to the Philippines.

Also, the EU remained the fifth largest source of tourists to the Philippines in 2012, with the number of EU tourists reaching a record 349,000 and an increase of 10 percent in 2012, EU data further showed.

Trade and Investments Relations

The Netherlands has always been an important trading partner for the Philippines since formal relations were established between the two countries in 1958. In 2011, the Netherlands continued to be the top EU export market for the Philippines accounting for 3.6% of total exports (US$1.7 billion). Main exports include electronics and semiconductors, processed food, animal and vegetable fats, and clothing.

The Netherlands is also a consistent top source of the Philippines’ foreign direct investment (FDI). During the last 15 years, the Netherlands has been the third largest foreign investor to the Philippines (after Japan and US). Also, to date there are at least 130 Dutch companies established and represented in the Philippines.

Transport and Logistics

The Netherlands and the Philippines have strong and long-standing bilateral relations and economic cooperation in the maritime sector. The Philippines, crewing capital of the world, is the primary source of seafarers for the Dutch fleet (currently employing more than 10.000 Filipino seafarers).

In the framework of international agreements on maritime cooperation, a bilateral treaty between the Netherlands and the Philippines on the recognition of seafarers certificates, both governments annually hold the Joint Committee on Maritime Affairs (JCMA). Furthermore, the joint venture between the Royal Association of Netherlands Ship-owners (KVNR), the Shipping and Transport College in Rotterdam (STC) and the Palompon Institute of Technology (PIT wherein the KVNR provides the nautical academy support in terms of maritime training programs (officer level).

In terms of logistics, opportunities have been identified in upcoming projects relating to the bulk handling and logistics support facilities for agri-food commodities and fisheries products. The Philippines is also developing airport facilities to be a international gateway in terms of air shipping-cargoes with domestic and international flights. The Philippines’ strategic location makes it an ideal hub for logistic service providers in Asia as capital cities in Japan, Korea, China, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia are all reachable within four hours by plane from Manila.

Agriculture and Food

During the trade and investments seminar conducted in The Hague, The Netherlands last September, Filipino economists and business leaders led by Antonio Villegas and Alaska Milk CEO Wilfred Uytengsu, Jr. encouraged Dutch businessmen to take advantage of business opportunities in the Philippines in the food and agriculture sector. The agri-business sector (agro-processing and agricultural inputs manufacturing and trading) remains a leading sector in the Philippines and continues to be an important source for the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth.

The Netherlands is also the Philippines’ largest market of crude and refined coconut oil as well as the 4th largest market for pineapple and pineapple products. Exports from the Netherlands to the Philippines consist of meat and poultry products, agricultural inputs (i.e. veterinary and animal health products), animal feeds and other food products (processed food, fruits and vegetables, dairy). With food-security being an issue and growing demands of the domestic agri-business sector, the Embassy will focus on niche opportunities for Dutch companies.

Presently, there are about 70 Netherlands-based agricultural companies with representative offices in the Philippines.
While some engage primarily in wholesale or retail of agricultural goods, some companies have expanded to offering added value services such as technology transfer activities in the areas of livestock artificial insemination, plant and/or seedling development and dairy farming.

Trade Instruments

To further promote and strengthen economic relations, the following Dutch trade instruments are also offered in the Philippines:

Matchmaking Facility (MMF) – The MMF assists local businesses particularly small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries to establish joint business relations (investment, trade or knowledge transfer) with Dutch companies. Application for MMF should be made and submitted by the local company to the Netherlands Embassy for initial evaluation.

Private Sector Investment Programme (PSI) – PSI programme supports innovative investments in emerging markets to stimulate private sector development, create employment opportunities and contribute to economic growth. Investments and application need to be done by Dutch companies in cooperation with a local partner. The Facility for Infrastructure Development (ORIO) – ORIO is a grant facility intended to contribute to the development, implementation, operation and maintenance of public infrastructure in developing countries. Applications should be made by the central government, local governments or public enterprises and submitted through the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

The Sustainable Water Fund (FDW) – is a Public Private Partnership facility which aims to finance projects in the area of water safety and water security. The projects should lead to poverty alleviation, sustainable economic growth and self-reliance.
The Philippines also benefits from the services and expertise of the following Dutch trade support organizations: Center for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries (CBI) – CBI assists local companies in exploring export opportunities in the Netherlands and Europe.

CBI sends technical consultants to the Philippines to provide training to small and medium business enterprises. The Philippines Exporters Confederation Inc. or Philexport is the local partner of CBI in the Philippines. Senior Experts Programme (PUM) – sends experienced Dutch senior managers to the Philippines to provide on-site advice on sales and marketing, administration, capacity building among others to entrepreneurs in developing countries. PUM representative offices are located in Cagayan de Oro, Cebu and Davao.

Yolanda Relief

After super typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas, The Netherlands was also one of the first countries to come to the aid of the Philippines. Dutch Humanitarian NGOs were able to collect a total Php1.5 billion (25 million EUR) for Yolanda victims in the Philippines–in addition to Dutch government contribution of Php350 million (6 million EUR). A national action for public fundraising for humanitarian assistance to the Philippines has resulted in a contribution of 25 million EUR. From early morning until midnight all Dutch broadcasting companies have cooperated to inform the public about the catastrophe that was caused by Typhoon Yolanda and to call for funds.

Dutch citizens have donated en masse for the victims of Yolanda. Through events and activities involving national politicians, DJ’s, singers, actors, TV personalities, sportsmen, artists and others, as well as hundreds of volunteers, funds have been raised by the Cooperating Aid Agencies (SHO). SHO is a partnership of Dutch aid organizations that collectively raise funds for aid to the victims of major humanitarian disasters.

GILLES GARACHON : Promoting French Tourism in the PH

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FROM being an unknown destination, the Philippines is slowly becoming a favorite destination for the French. And part of the growing interest in the Philippines is a result of the efforts made by French Ambassador to the Philippines Gilles Garachon.

Tour of Duty

Serving in Manila since 2012, Garachon has almost 27 years experience in the diplomatic service, having started his career in this field in 1985. Garachon is no stranger to Asia as he was named first secretary at the French embassy in New Delhi in 1989 and later became the consul of France in Hong Kong in 1993.

Ambassador Garachon and wife Isabelle

He served as his country’s political counselor in Bangkok (1999–2003) and as cultural counselor in Jakarta (2003–2007). Before his present assignment, he headed the human resources department of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. While based here in Manila, Ambassador Garachon will concurrently serve as France’s non-resident ambassador to Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. He succeeded former French envoy to the Philippines, Thierry Borja de Mozata.

Keep Momentum

Since taking the Philippine post, Garachon said French awareness of the Philippines has been increasing steadily because of aggressive cultural, political and academic exchanges between the two countries. “There is a momentum. And I think we have to keep this momentum. This is going to increase, I’m sure. There is plenty of room to increase the relations—of course—there is cultural relations, but also in the field of trade, in the field of politics, also the exchange of students between universities,” Garachon said in a newspaper interview during the French Embassy’s celebration of Bastille Day at his Makati City residence last July 14.

Embassy data showed French tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased by 14 percent from 29,591 in 2011 to 33,709 in 2012.
Garachon said promoting the Philippines in France was his “main difficulty” as an ambassador, as most French knew only nations that figured in their history.

“French people… see the geography very linked to history. And if a country has historical links with France, then it appears on the map. But for the Philippines, we never had any historical connection. Not at all. So for French people, the Philippines is just a question mark,” Garachon said.

“So part of my job and part of the job of the ambassador of the Philippines in Paris is to make French people discover more about the Philippines,” Garachon, who had been posted to Hong Kong, Jakarta and Bangkok before being assigned to Manila, said.

Philippine Exhibit

To boost its image in France the Philippines hosted a three-month exhibit of pre-colonial art at the Quai Branly Museum in Paris from April to July. “I think this exhibit is a great occasion. [All over] Paris, you had a signboard about this exhibit about the Philippines, with beautiful pictures,” Garachon said.

“People loved it and because they were discovering something completely new. In France, nobody knows about the art of the Philippines. And so they discovered it and they enjoyed it very much,” he said.

The exhibit brings together Philippine pre-colonial art and artifacts from collections in the Philippines, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the United States.

It is the largest exhibit of Philippine art in Europe, according to the French Embassy in Manila.

History of Relations

History tells us that the relations between the Philippines and France go beyond 60 years. A French consulate was established in Manila in the late 19th century, during the time when the Philippines was still a colony of Spain.

When the Spanish expedition under Ferdinand Magellan reached the Philippines, 15 Frenchmen were among its crew. This includes Jean Petit of Angers, lieutenant of Trinidad and Bernard Calmette, chaplain of San Antonio.

French missionaries also contributed to the spread of Christianity in the Philippines. The first Diocesan seminary in the Philippines, the seminary of St. Clement in Manila, was set up with the aid of French Monsignor Charles-Thomas Maillard de Tournon in 1704.
French traders, technicians, soldiers, and officers and crews under the Manila Galleon trade also came to the Philippines. The French recognized the potentials of the Philippines in the trading sector by the 17th century. France discovered the potential use of abaca in the manufacture of naval supplies, particularly ropes. Despite the Spanish colonial government’s restrictions against foreign trade, French and other foreign traders were already in Manila before it was formally opened for foreign trade.

First Consul

France became the first country to establish a consul in Spanish Philippines, followed by Belgium, the United States and finally Great Britain in November 1844. France established its consul in Manila in March 1824.

Diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines was officially established on June 26, 1947 with the signing of the Treaty of Amity. The short-lived First Philippine Republic had a diplomatic representative in Paris in 1898 when the United States and Spain were negotiating the terms for peace in what has come down in history as the Treaty of Paris.

French travel accounts of the Philippines in the 18th and 19th centuries help Filipino historians recreate the past. These publications are illustrated with charming photographs and engravings that provide a visual link to the Spanish Philippines.

Historic Visit

In a historic visit to the Philippines last October French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault met with President Benigno Aquino III and discussed ways to enhance the two countries’ political, economic and cultural relations.

Ayrault was accompanied by a 130-member delegation composed of ministers, parliamentarians and businessmen. The visit, founded on the theme, “Enhancing Philippine-French Relations Through Political, Economic and Cultural Cooperation” is intended to renew bilateral ties between the Philippines and France and propel the countries economic partnerships to greater heights.

Bilateral Trade

According to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), bilateral trade between the the Philippines and France amounted to U$1.143 billion in 2011 as French investments in the Philippines reflected a “significant increase” with total approved investments of PhP1.145 billion, up 90 percent compared to 2010.

The DFA said that French companies such as LaFarge, Total, AXA and Alcatel “have strong presence in the country and have committed to increase their investments in the coming years.”

Leading French companies like RATP Dev and Thales have also expressed their interest to participate in the bidding for flagship projects under the country’s Public-Private Partnership (PPP) program.

The Philippines and France are expected to be sign contracts in various various sectors such as energy, aviation and aeronautics, transportation, infrastructures, electronics, healthcare and environment in the next few years.

France has been supportive of Aquino administration’s development priorities particularly in the areas of “climate change, green infrastructures, sustainable urban development and services including transport, water supply and sanitation, agro-forestry and biodiversity protection, and capacity building for local government units.”

People Exchange

Both countries also enjoy a strong people-to-people exchange as there are 50,000 Filipinos in France and about 4,000 French nationals living in the Philippines.

Most Filipinos in France are engaged in the services sector and skilled professionals. In 2011, Filipinos in France remitted a total of $51.3 million.


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Bridging the Cultural Divide

Ambassador Knut Solem of the Royal Norwegian Embassy

Despite the stark distinction between Philippine and Norwegian cultures, Solem explained that this should not hamper growth and development. Solem said that to thrive in the sea of personal and cultural differences in a global organization, leaders must build cross cultural synergy through cultural knowledge.

PH-NO Cooperation

The long-standing bilateral maritime cooperation between Norway and the Philippines is a prime example of cross cultural synergy according to Mr. Solem. With approximately 25,000 Filipino seafarers on board Norwegian vessels today, the Philippines has been Norway’s valuable partner in the maritime sector. The Norwegian involvement in the maritime industry in the Philippines does not rest on employment of seafarers alone. Norway has also been significantly involved in raising the quality of education and training of seafarers in the country.

Solem said Norway’s century-long involvement in the Philippine maritime sector has been strengthened by the country’s excellent human resources. “The Philippines has a big potential for growth,” he said. Because of this, the ambassador said that Norway has been eyeing on investing in more industries in the Philippines.

Bilateral Relations

The Philippines and Norway have a long history of bilateral relations, owing mostly to cooperation in the maritime sector. Today, relations between our two countries have expanded to encompass not only the shipping industry, but also other business sectors, labor migration, and peace and reconciliation efforts.

There are approximately 18,000 Filipinos living in Norway. They are a very well-integrated minority group in the Norwegian society with a high level of participation in the work force. There is also a variety of active NGOs and interest groups working to promote Filipino culture in Norway. Every year the celebration of the Philippine Independence Day takes place in many communities around the country.

On the other hand, about 3,000 Norwegians are living in the Philippines. Some do business, some do charitable work, whilst others have established new families—or come to spend their retirement under the Philippine sun.

Trade and Economic Relations

Economic relations between our two countries comprise shipping, investments in industry, investments from the Norwegian government pension fund, and services, goods and commodities trade. The Philippines Norway Business Council (PNBC) unites the Norwegian business community in the Philippines and currently has more than 45 member companies and institutions. The Norwegian Embassy is a founding member and is permanently represented in the board of the council.

“The trade figures show a positive trend, cooperation, both multilaterally and bilaterally, is expanding, and the number of our respective nationals living in or visiting each other’s country increases year by year,” Solem said in a message on the embassy website. A lot of the business is still shipping related, but other sectors follow suit. There is also trade with services, goods and commodities. Chemical products are the main export commodity from Norway to the Philippines, followed by fish.

Conversely, electronics, machinery, transport equipment and miscellaneous manufactured articles account for about two thirds of the imports to Norway from the Philippines. Norwegian companies are showing an increased interest in the Philippines. Notably, investments in industrial enterprises have grown in recent years and have shown good profit margins. The energy sector shows promise, with the Philippines having significant potential in the development of hydropower plant and possibly large amounts of untapped natural gas and oil resources. Norway as an energy nation has decades of competence and experience in utilizing and managing such resources.

During the Nordic Ambassador’s Luncheon with Department of Trade and Industry Undersecretary Ponciano Manalo last June Solem called for two-way development of commercial cooperation, where the focus is not only on how Nordic companies can tap into the Philippine markets, but where Philippine companies also realize the potential of the Nordic region as a market. Secondly, he raised the importance of public and private sector collaboration in promoting trade and investment opportunities.

EU Maritime Audit

A maritime audit conducted in April 2013 by a European Union (EU) team on the Philippines’ maritime education and training put the Filipino seafarers’ future in jeopardy, particularly those working on vessels registered in the European Union (EU) countries. Solem finds this condition most serious, but expressed hoped that the Philippines will comply with the 1978 International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (SCTW) to which the Philippines is a party.

“We sincerely hope that the necessary improvements will be done, but time is limited, and the seriousness of the situation should not be underestimated. But, he continued, “do look at this also in the positive way; to make such improvements, to ensure the necessary quality, control mechanisms etc. is the best investment the Philippine government can make. Through compliance with the said convention international demand for Filipino seafarers will just continue to grow!” Solem said.

Another audit was scheduled last month and Solem said Norway will abide by an EU decision. Although not a member of the EU, Norway is associated with the Union through its membership with the European Economic Area (EEA). Norwegian shipping companies employ about 25 000 Filipino seafarers aboard their ships or in shipyards, accounting for one third of the total number of seafarers on Norwegian controlled vessels.

The Norwegian Training Center in Manila provides relevant training for Filipino seafarers serving on Norwegian ships. Maritime cooperation has remained one of the key elements of our bilateral relations. The Norwegian Maritime Authority (NMA/Sjøfartsdirektoratet) is currently assisting the Philippine Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) in an attempt to ensure that maritime/seafarer education is in compliance with the STCW Convention. A number of Norwegian shipping companies have offices in the Philippines.

“Filipino seafarers are not only important to us, I dare say they constitute a cornerstone of our maritime industry.” In light of this, as well as of the urgency of the matter, we have already given technical assistance to MARINA. Both we and other governments are willing to give further assistance, but needless to stress, the final responsibility lies with Philippine authorities,” Solem said.

Diplomatic Relations

Norway established diplomatic relations with the Philippines in 1948. From 1952 to 1956, Norway was represented by a Consulate, later, by a Consulate General in Manila. The Embassy was opened in 1967. The Embassy has three sub-sections, the Maritime Section, the Consular Section and the Visa Section. Norway also has a Honorary Consulate in Cebu. Today, Norway is the only Nordic country to have an embassy in Manila.
The Philippine Embassy in Norway was established in 2008, when it moved from Stockholm due to increasing cooperation in energy and the maritime sector, as well as the increasing number of Filipinos living in Norway. Today the embassy covers all the five Nordic countries from Oslo.

Norway supports a number of Filipino development projects, as well as NGOs working for human rights and social development in the Philippines, through its Peace and Reconciliation Fund. Norway is the third-party facilitator of peace talks between the Philippine Government (GPH) and the Communist movement, NDFP. In addition, Norway participates in the International Monitoring Team (IMT) in Mindanao related to the peace process between the Government (GPH) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

AMBASSADOR WILHELM M. DONKO : Man of Literature and the Arts

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BEFORE shifting to foreign service, WILHELM Maximillian Donko—Austrian Ambassador to the Philippines—was a writer and journalist by profession.

Born in Scharding, Linz, Donko worked as a free-lance journalist in the 1980s writing mainly about US naval issues. And even after joining the Austrian diplomatic service in 1990, Donko never lost his love for writing.

(In photo: Madame Yan Donko and Ambassador Wilhelm Donko)
(In photo: Madame Yan Donko and Ambassador Wilhelm Donko)

Coming to Manila in 2009 from his first posting as ambassador in Korea, Donko is the author of two books: “An Austrian View of the Philippines 1858” (published in 2011 by e-publi GmbH—Verlasgruppe Holtzbrink, Berlin) and “A Brief History of the Austrian Navy” (published in 2012).

In his first book, Donko brings to light the chronicles of the frigate Novara, the first Austrian warship to make a port call in the Philippines. Basically, a scientific mission, Norvara had renowned Austrian scholars and artist Josef Selleny who chronicled the mission by through paintings sketches, drawings and aquarelles. #OpinYon #Austria #Foreign #Arts #Literature

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AMBASSADOR JORGE DOMEQ : Selling Spain to the World

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WITH over 300 years worth of shared history, it is fitting that Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domeq’s first Asian posting be here in the Philippines.


Born November 28, 1960, Domeq entered the Diplomatic Corps in 1985 serving in the Spanish Embassy in the NATO Council and Brazil. In 2004 he was appointed second in command at the Embassy of Spain in Morocco and in 2005 he held the post of deputy director general of the Bureau of Gibraltar. He began his official tour of duty here in the Philippines in March 2011 and—like a duck to water—easily felt at home with the Filipino culture and way of life.

Much like Filipinos, Domeq says Spaniards are a blending of rich cultures. #OpinYon#foreign #Spain

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Australia Provides Emergency Aid for Mindanao

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THE Australian Government today announced it will provide up to Php10 million (A$252,000) in emergency aid for families left homeless by the humanitarian crisis in Basilan and Zamboanga City.

Australian Ambassador to the Philippines Bill Tweddell said the conflict in Zamboanga and Basilan has created a humanitarian crisis deserving an Australian response.

“We are deeply concerned by the recent violence in Mindanao and the effect this has had on local people,” Ambassador Tweddell said.

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More than 120,000 people have been displaced and 10,000 homes destroyed by fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a splinter group of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in Zamboanga City and the province of Basilan in Mindanao.

At the request of the Philippine Government and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Australia’s assistance will provide emergency aid including food, sleeping mats, mosquito nets, blankets, water containers, kitchen and hygiene kits for people left homeless by the conflict.

“Many people have lost their homes and livelihoods and are now staying in evacuation centres with very limited access to food, health, hygiene, water, and other basic services,” Ambassador Tweddell said.

“The Australian Government is making these items available through our partnerships with the Philippine Red Cross, the World Food Programme, and the United Nations Population Fund to assist the Philippine Government to respond quickly and effectively to the ongoing crisis in Zamboanga City and Basilan.”

Fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the MNLF broke out in Zamboanga City on September 9, and by September 13 had spilled over to the nearby island of Basilan.

In partnership with the Philippine Government, Australia’s aid program is working to improve the conditions for peace and security in Mindanao. #OpinYon #Foreign #Australia #Mindanao

Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Ivo Sieber: IN LOVE WITH THE PHILIPPINES

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ABOUT 10,530 kilometers of land and ocean separate the Philippines from Switzerland. But in an instant, Filipinos can easily answer what comes to mind when they hear “Swiss”—the Swiss knife, chocolate, cheese, watch, and the Swiss Alps.
Many generations of Pinoys have been raised on products made by the Swiss food and beverage giant Nestle and treated for various ailments using Swiss-manufactured medicines.
Fact is, Switzerland has had official relations with the Philippines since 1862, when the Philippines was still a Spanish colony and most of our revolutionary heroes were still toddlers. The Swiss Consulate in the Philippines was the very first consulate in Asia and have maintained consular offices here until today.
Their man in Manila today is Ambassador Ivo Sieber. And, the Philippines is close to Sieber’s heart because he has been married for some 20 years now to Gracita—a beautiful Filipina with whom he has two teenaged girls. #OpinYon #Foreign #Swiss

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Indonesia Ambassador to the Philippines Yohanes Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo: A MAN AHEAD OF HIS TIME

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DIPLOMATS are—usually—strict about time. When they don’t arrive in time for their appointments, they come early.

This is literally the case of Yohanes Kristiarto Soeryo Legowo, Indonesia’s Ambassador to the Philippines. Born on the 27th of December in 1962, about a week earlier than his mother’s due date, you could say that it is in his providence to become an ambassador.

Known as Kris to fellow diplomats, friends and associates—his arrival to the family came as a big relief (hence the name Legowo—meaning “big relief” in Javanese). His mother fainted and fell while in church two days before he was born and the accident required stitches on her neck and triggered the contractions.
The youngest in a brood of 10, Legowo became the hands-down favorite in the family.

“I could not deny that everybody was always trying to spoil me.… But doesn’t make me a spoiled child,” Legowo said in a magazine interview last year. But while he has had his share of being pinched in the ear for being naughty, he admitted that he did not really enjoy the overprotectiveness of his parents, brothers and sisters. “But in the end, I put it in a very positive perspective. They did it because they love me,” he said.

His father, Soeryo, was a teacher who imparted to them the value of education. So despite the bouts of teenage rebellion and other misbehaviors—Legowo grew up a decent young man.

“All the values of life I learned it from the family. My father taught us how to pursue dream,” Kris said. “But he always emphasized also that the way we pursue our dream is also important…being Christian, process is very important.” #OpinYon#Indonesia #Foreign

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