Italians love to celebrate, from enjoying the little things in life to hosting grand parties when the occasion calls for it. It is this love and passion for all things that make Italy a truly special culture. This June 2, we celebrate Italian National Day and share in a European culture much like our own. As Italian ambassador to the Philippines, Mr. Giorgio Guglielmino, describes it, this Saturday is a chance for both Italians and Filipinos to realize what a deep connection we have with each other.
This year, the focus of the celebration is to highlight the contemporary aspects of Italy. Most people remain unaware of how much Italy has grown in terms of arts and lifestyle. A quick thought of Italian art brings images of the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo, but not much applause is given to modern artists. Even in terms of cuisine, the public has yet to be introduced to the delight of Italian street food. This is changing slightly – indeed more restaurants are showcasing Italian cuisine – but it is the goal of the National Day to give more emphasis to everything Italian.
A culture built on love – romance manifesting in human acts of kindness
Italy has always been known as the European country bathed in romance. From arts to literature, the country evokes feelings of deep passion, beautiful locals, and familial ties. Even looking at classical paintings made by Italians leaves the ordinary person stunned; how is it possible that the sun seems to be a different yellow than anywhere else in the world?
This romance extends to the humanity all Italians display. It is not only the rugged men sweeping the damsels in distress off their feet, it is in the conscious effort to provide solace to all those who are helpless and lost. Take for example its constant and continual acceptance of hundreds of thousands of war-torn refugees trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Africa to Europe. Italy remains one of the more accepting European countries opening its borders to save these people. It is something that makes all Italians very proud of their homeland.
But it is not only human life that is important for these romantic people. No, Italians believe that all things need to be protected. That is why they take every effort to ensure that their coastal regions and sea life are part of a heavily regulated conservation program. Each year, Italy is seen to have the cleanest seas in all of Europe.
Countries sharing souls
For Mr. Guglielmino, the Philippines and Italy share similar personalities. Both countries view life, family, and friendship the same way. For us, nothing is more important than personal relationships – face-to-face interaction being more crucial to one’s wellness than 1,000 e-mails.
In terms of cultural growth, the Ateneo Art Awards will feature an additional prize this August, called the “Embassy of Italy Award”. This will be given to a young Filipino artist who shows great potential in the arts. Mr. Guglielmino says that the goal of the Italian embassy is to build a small but significant collection of Filipino art to be displayed in the residence of the Italian Ambassador as well as in the premises of the Italian Embassy Chancery.
Mr. Guglielmino is also working towards renewing a partnership with Philippine Airlines for a direct flight from Manila to Rome. This, after a period of more than 20 years. These flights would benefit the permanent Filipino community currently in Italy (a number of about 200,000) and around 30,000 Filipinos who apply for a visa to enter the European country every year.
It is safe to say that our culture, too, is built on love and passion. The Philippines can be seen as Italy’s younger sibling – a little rough around the edges but showing the same passionate pride that makes us do anything and everything for all those that we love. It is our desire to be good family members, and our wish to fulfill our loved one’s desires that make us very similar to Italy. It is exciting to see where this relationship will go and how deep our connection will be. As we grow more into our own culture, it is nice to develop a relationship with a similar-minded country.