By Vanda Brady
It has been two months since the Second Regional European Overseas Filipinos Conference in Malta and yet we cannot stop talking about its success, the next steps, and when the next conference will be. The third conference, which will be held in 2017, is currently being deliberated upon by the Secretariat. Details will be announced as soon as plans have been finalized, but please keep your summer/autumn of 2017 open.
Here are the highlights of the recently concluded conference “Overseas Filipinos (OF) for Transnational Development Make a Self- Assessment (Ako ay Pilipino, Ganito Ako Ngayon, Paano Ako Bukas / This is how I am today, how will I be tomorrow?)” held in St. Pauls Bay, Malta on August 1-2, 2015.
Prior to the conference, ENFiD members and Country Representatives from 13 Member Countries attended the Annual General Assembly on the 31st of July, 2015. After new country members were introduced and representatives shared their country profiles experiences, a discussion on ENFiD election and membership procedures ensued.
The conference was attended by 92 Filipino diaspora delegates and guests coming from 13 countries in Europe (Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, the Netherlands, UK, Switzerland, Malta, Sweden, Norway) and was joined by guests and delegates from the Philippines, United States and Israel.
President Marie Louise Coleiro Preca of the the Republic of Malta honored us with her presence and touching speech wherein she emphasized the friendship between the Maltese and Filipino people. She recognized and appreciated the contribution of the Filipinos, which she aptly called the “Filipino Love” from migrants mostly working in the health service sector in Malta.
From the Foreign Philippine posts, we were joined by HE Ambassador Lecaros of the Philippine Embassy in Prague who conducted the oath-taking ceremony of the new elected Board Members; Consul General and Chief of Mission Rob Bolivar, who gave an informative input on the issue of the unfounded Chinese territorial claims of the West Philippine Sea; Consul General and Chief of Mission Senen Mangalile of the Philippie Embassy in London who presented the issue of human trafficking; and Consul Jed Dayang of the Philippine Embassy in Prague who gave a very enlightening lecture on the social remittances from the point of view of Filipino migrants.
Secretary Mely Nicolas of Commission on Filipinos Overseas of the Office of the Philippine President presented an inspirational message which included an update of Filipino migrants in Europe and an appreciation of ENFiD for its outstanding and amazing job in putting together another historic gathering of overseas Filipinos; while the CEO of PhilHealth Alex Padilla explained the benefits of health insurance for every Filipino and how PhilHealth can be of assistance.
Further, a presentation on World Peace and Security giving an overview of the causes of (forced) migration and the statistics of the present movements around the world was delivered by the Head of the Conflict, Security and Resilience Program of the European Center for Development Policy and Management, Volker Hauck.
The workshops centering on good governance, the Euro-Pinoy identity, the effects of social remittances to the economic and political situation of the Philippines and the cultural and psycho-emotional framework were discussed after a short lecture by carefully selected speakers.
Apart from tackling other poignant issues such as gender equality, human trafficking, and the unfounded Chinese territorial claims, the conference resulted to awe-inspiring recommendations, which include, among many: 1) to have a better understanding of the impact and effects of Social Remittances in transforming Philippine culture and economic development 2) to promote awareness and encourage exploration and assessment of cross-cultural or transnational identities of Overseas Filipinos as they integrate in their host countries 3) to give special attention to first and 1.5 generation Filipino youth who have unique peculiarities and challenges, and 4) to improve Philippine embassy and consular services.