Stronger PHL- Germany Relations Anticipated in 2020

November 18, 2019

“I see the continued strengthening of the bilateral relations between the Philippines and Germany which will be on its 66th year in 2020 .”

Deputy Speaker and Antique Congresswoman Loren Legarda made the statement following the recent signing of an academic agreement between the Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, and the launch of Filipino language courses in Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany .

Germany is the biggest trading partner of the Philippines in the European Union and its 11th global-trading partner, with a total trade volume of $7.4 billion in 2018.

“Apart from trade, we should also continue to harness cultural diplomacy together with political and economic initiatives with other nations. The establishment and flourishing of a Philippine Studies Program in Humboldt and in Ruhr University is just the start of a stronger partnership with Germany,” Legarda said.

Also in the pipeline is a program to promote sports diplomacy. The program seeks to invite a well-renowned soccer team to the

Philippines and conduct training to students and avid soccer enthusiasts.

Apart from sports, Legarda provided support for the research on rediscovering Philippine material culture in German archives. Preliminary research shows that Philippine realia or artifacts can be found in several German cities, such as Berlin, Bremen, Stuttgart, Gottingen and Munich.

Legarda is also looking forward to the exhibition of the Dr. Jose Rizal textile collection in the Philippines, which she discovered in the archives in 2013, when she visited the Berlin Ethnological Museum. The textile collection had been donated by Rizal to his friend, Dr. Adolf Bastian, a German ethnologist and founder of the Berlin Ethnological Museum, and Mr. Rudolf Virchow, a German prehistorian and anthropologist. Among the items are handwoven textiles like piña barong and shawl, a Bagobo attire, a Mandaya baby carrier, and a Tboli abaca wrap skirt.

A documentary on the sojourn of Rizal in Germany is also in the works, with never before seen videos, pictures and interviews.

Other projects supported by the Deputy Speaker include the participation of the Philippines in the Frankfurt Book Fair. Since 2016,

Legarda ensured the participation of the Philippines through a country pavilion at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair. The Philippines is now aspiring to become Guest of Honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2024, an endeavor that has been consistently worked on by the National Book Development Board and by Deputy Speaker Legarda.

In 2018, she also supported tourism and trade promotion activities in fairs such as Ambiente, Automechanika and Biofach. She is also instrumental in the reopening of the Philippine Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany and the new building of the Philippine Embassy in Berlin, Germany.

The Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition, the roving textile exhibition conceptualized by Legarda with the National Museum of the Philippines which showcases handwoven and embroidered piña seda fabrics, was displayed in Frankfurt in 2018. It will be exhibited in 2020 in Berlin, Germany as well.

Aside from culture, Legarda, who authored the Philippine Climate Change Act and the People’s Survival Fund Law, stressed the strong bond of the Philippines and Germany when it comes to climate. The GIZ, one of the biggest supporters and funders of our climate projects in the Philippines, continues to give technical and financial assistance to the Philippines for capacity building of local governments in

building resilient, inclusive and sustainable communities in the country, which is considered as one of the most climate-vulnerable nations in the world.

As Senator, Deputy Speaker Legarda initiated the establishment in the Philippine Senate of the parliamentary association between the two countries. Legarda, as then Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, also spearheaded the concurrence of the Senate in the ratification of the Framework Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the Philippines and the European Union (PH- EU PCA) and the Agreement between the Republic of the Philippines and the Federal Republic of Germany on Social Security (PH- Germany SSA). The PH-EU PCA intends to promote dialogue and cooperation on political matters, justice, security affairs, migration and economic development, while the PH-Germany SSA provides for equality of treatment, improve processing of claims of Filipinos living in Germany.