After the state visit of French president Francois Hollande to the Philippines, the next head of state to grace the country is Fra’ Matthew Festing, the prince and Grand Master of the Order of Malta. He arrived today for a seven-day official visit to strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations.
The Sovereign Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta (not to be confused with the European island country), or SOM, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, and is the world’s oldest surviving order of chivalry. Its international assistance arm Malteser International is dedicated to “assist the elderly, handicapped, refugeed, children, homeless, those with terminal illness and leprosy in all parts of the world, without distinction of race or religion.”
Through the years, Malteser International has been helping the Philippines in issues in healthcare, hygiene intervention, feeding programs, provision of food supplements, medical supplies, and disaster relief and rehabilitation.
Hesting is the second prince and Grand Master of Malta to visit the Philippines. The first was Fra’ Angelo de Mojana di Colognain in 1979.
According to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, Jr.:
Ang pagbisita ng kanyang Most Eminent Highness Festing ay inaasahang ibayong makapagpapatibay ng relasyong diplomatiko sa pagitan ng Pilipinas at ng Sovereign Order of Malta simula nang ito ay maitatag may limang dekada na ang lumilipas.
(The visit of His Most Eminent Highness Festing is expected to strengthen the diplomatic relation between the Philippines and the Sovereign Order of Malta, which began over five decades ago.)
On Tuesday, Festing will meet President Benigno Aquino III, who will receive a symbolic key for SOM’s donation of shelters in Samar and Cebu. The president will also receive an Order of Sikatuna, Rank of Grand Collar (Raja) award and citation.
On Thursday, the Prince will head to Samar and Cebu to personally oversee the construction of 350 core shelters.
What do you think of this story? Share your thoughts below!