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PhilFrance: Feel French! celebrates 70 years of Franco-Philippine relations

In celebration of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between France and the Philippines, the Embassy of France in Manila has launched PhilFrance: Feel French!, a year-long festival of activities which offers Filipinos the opportunity to “feel France” in various aspects of living brought about by the strong bilateral partnership shared by the two countries.

The occasion held  at the Alliance Francaise de Manille, was graced by Ambassador of France to the Philippines H. E. Thierry Mathou, Senators Loren Legarda and Cynthia Villar, Department of Agriculture Undersecretary Berna Romulo-Puyat, Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) President Raul Sunico, among others.

PhilFrance: Feel French! aims to further develop the growing political, cultural, and economic cooperation between France and the Philippines which is showcased in the campaign’s five main themes: Arts and Culture, Art de Vivre, the Youth and Knowledge, High Tech and Entrepreneurship, and Sharing Values.

Arts and Culture

The French Embassy intends to provide the proper channels for mutual exchanges between French and Filipino artists and the appropriate venues to feature their artistry in music, cinema, photography, and painting.

Leading the roster of performances is French Cornetto player Lambert Colson who will perform at the 42nd International Bamboo Organ Festival. The works of famous painter Juvenal Sanso, inspired by his 50-year experience living in France, will be on exhibit at the Alliance Francais de Manille. Fete de la Musique, one of the biggest musical events in the metro, will gather more than 50 Filipino and French musicians to perform in 20 different stages and locations in the country.

The 22nd French Film Festival will feature not only the best of contemporary French cinema, but also a selection of Cannes-winning Filipino classics.  French photojournalist Christophe Loviny will conduct a series of workshops on photojournalism that will culminate in the Manila French Photo Festival. Internationally-renowned French pianist Francois Chaplin will perform with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra in Ravel Unraveled, an evening of French classical music at the CCP. French ethno-photographer Pierre de Vallombreuse will present his unique images of Palawan’s indigenous tribes in Palawan through a French Eye, an exhibit to be held at the National Museum.

Art de Vivre

Art de Vivre, meaning the “art of living”, represents the French lifestyle that centers on fashion, food, culture, and sports.

Together with local designers, French designer Clivia Nobili will conduct a series of workshops and fashion shows during Franco-Philippine Fashion Week. The original creations by fashion icons Yves Saint-Laurent, Cristobal Balenciaga, Yohji Yamamoto, and Jean-Paul Gaultier will also be on display at the School of Design and Arts of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

French and Filipino chefs will celebrate French gastronomy in Gout de France/Good France to be highlighted by Bon Appetit!, a French food market that will offer fresh and organic ingredients in making French cuisine. Cycling professionals, amateurs, and enthusiasts will compete in Tour de Manille, the Philippine version of Tour de France, the most famous cycling competition in the world. French businesses and their local partners will take part in Soiree Beaujolais, the annual networking night organized by the French Chamber of Commerce. The French circus group, Cirque Inextremiste, will perform in Extremites, a circus show of acrobatics.

The Youth and Knowledge

France’s commitment to the intellectual development of the youth and imparting of knowledge will continue to foster exchanges between French and Filipinos in the areas of language, science, and the humanities.

At the forefront of this commitment is the Francophonie Festival, a week-long celebration of the French language through literature, music, and theater to be organized in various schools and universities throughout the country. This will be followed with Architecture Week, where French and Filipino experts will hold an architecture conference and workshops on heritage preservation, urban planning, and smart cities. For those who wish to pursue post-graduate degrees or exchange programs in French higher learning institutions, the PhilFrance Scholarships are now open to grant financial assistance to deserving Filipino students.

High Tech and Entrepreneurship

France aims to share its expertise on technology and innovation through networking programs and business-related initiatives to provide support for start-ups in the country.

The French Chamber of Commerce will continue to organize networking events in promoting French companies in the Philippines, to coincide with the visit of a high-level business delegation from France this year. The French Tech Philippines, a network of start-ups joining the 50 ecosystems around the world, will promote the French Ticket, a support program for start-ups in the country. The French Embassy will also organize a regional forum on agriculture and food security issues.

Sharing Values

The French Embassy affirms the significance of children’s rights, women empowerment, and solidarity among communities in strengthening shared common values anchored on the French democratic ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity.

Underprivileged Filipinos will now be given the opportunity to network with managers of French and Filipino companies in a job fair and employability forum in preparation for working with them. To further promote gender equality, a special function at the French Residence will be held during International Women’s day on March 8 to honor outstanding Filipino women. Before the year ends, a Women’s Forum will be held to highlight the important roles of women in Philippine society.

French and Filipino volunteers will come together in French Volunteerism Day, a day full of fun, games, and purpose to promote volunteerism and the spirit of solidarity and sharing. The France-Philippines United Action (FPUA) Foundation will continue to take an active role in providing relief and rehabilitation to local communities affected by typhoons and other natural disasters.

In his welcome remarks, French Ambassador Mathou expressed optimism that the campaign will be able to reach out to Philippine civil society in telling them that they are also a part of the cooperation between France and the Philippines. “The objective of PhilFrance: Feel French! is to give Filipinos all over the country the opportunity to feel France in various aspects of everyday life and to experience the strength of the friendship between our two countries,” he said.

For her part, Senator Loren Legarda, founder of the Philippines-France Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group, hailed Philippine-French relations and stressed the importance of deepening ties between the two nations, which was highlighted by the state visit of French President Francois Hollande in 2015.

“These interactions resulted in enhanced partnership between our two nations, most especially increased economic cooperation and political consultation, and continued partnership in the areas of climate change and sustainable development, among many others. There have also been many opportunities for cooperation in the field of cultural and heritage preservation,” she said.

The event, hosted by Audiovisual Attache Martin Macalintal, was capped with performances from the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra and France Got Talent 2016 finalist Katchry Jewel Golbin.

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