HONORABLE members of the government of the Philippines, honorable members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, Assistant Secretary Ma. Amelita Aquino, Apostolic Nuncio, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, dear colleagues of the diplomatic and consular corps, chers compatriotes, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, mga mahal kong kaibigan: Mabuhay to all!
Since this is our first Bastille Day reception in the Philippines, we of course wished to know a little bit from our new Filipino friends, from my compatriots who live here, and my predecessors, what this event is like in Manila. All [of them] absolutely mentioned the weather factor, and I now completely understand what it means—although I will not pronounce the word that will trigger it. It seems to be relatively dry until now.
Most probably, the French revolutionaries did not know a lot about the Philippines’s climate when they resolved to raid the Bastille prison on a certain 14th of July in 1789. But there was much more they didn’t know about the consequences of their action: No less than a 10-year-long revolution, which put an end to an 800-year-old monarchy; a period that certainly included dark aspects.
But during which, permanent and fundamental principles were proclaimed; the most simple and clearly expressed being the first article of the Declaration of Human Rights: Les hommes naissent et demeurent libres et égaux en droits. Human beings are born and remain free and equal in rights. They said human beings; not the French, or the subjects of the [former] King of France. They affirmed the conviction that was for all humanity, and which was intrinsically revolutionary at a time where societies were divided into classes based on the families people were born in, or where slavery was considered acceptable in many countries.
This was a short, universal message which spread all over Europe and the world, including to the Philippines, as shown in numerous references to the French Revolution [from the] texts of Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, or Luis Rodriguez Varela.
Now, we are far from those times. The Philippines and France have many other things to share in the globalized world, so I’m very happy that our bilateral agenda has been a very busy one in the last months, with the political consultation in December 2017, then the joint committees on defense in March 2018, and academic cooperation in May 2018. More [will] come with the joint economic committee and a bilateral meeting on tourism.
Evening of thanksgiving
AT this point, let me thank the Department of Foreign Affairs and all the Philippine partners who are so active and [responsive in organizing] these events, including cultural ones like the [recent] French Film Festival and the Fête de la Musique. And I won’t forget to express also my gratitude to my very cooperative colleague in Paris, Ambassador Theresa Lazaro.
Many thanks also to the French companies for participating so successfully in our relations, who invest greatly in this country in many areas: from airplanes to infrastructures, from food products to insurance, [and even the] fashion industry. Congratulations to them for being so active and aggressive—in the good sense of the word, of course—in the booming Philippine economy.
And of course, many thanks to those Philippine and French companies which have accepted to support tonight’s event; famous and prestigious brands from both countries which names are displayed around us, and [whose contributions] go beyond what is called sponsorship. I regard it as a proof of their confidence in the relations between [the] French and Filipinos, and as a demonstration of the great friendship that exists between us. Merci à tous! Maraming salamat!
The Philippines, as a major player in this region, and France, because of its vast maritime space in the Pacific Ocean, are strong partners in this part of the world, as are Japan and Singapore, whose troops were present at the military parade this morning in Paris. With our Asian partners, we are indeed committed to promote and defend common values in the Pacific region based on cooperation, international law, and of course, the protection of the environment.
PHL’s COP21 role
IN this regard, we will certainly not forget the decisive role the Philippines played in the success of the COP21 (Twenty-first Conference of Parties) climate change agreement signed in Paris in 2015. Obviously, such a success could be reached only because governments, and also nongovernment organizations and the private sector, realized the importance and the gravity of the climate challenge.
Because France strongly believes in multilateralism as the only effective and durable way to cope with global problems, and because peace is intimately linked to global governance, President [Emmanuel] Macron will host a peace forum in Paris this year, which will start on the symbolic date of November 11, when the centennial of the end of the First World War will be commemorated.
With this, my wife Camélia and I would like to thank you all again for being here tonight to celebrate this year’s Bastille Day, and this is another occasion also to thank the Filipino people for being so warm, welcoming, helpful and nearly always smiling.
Now, I heard that there is also something happening tomorrow in Russia that could justify more celebrations. But that’s for tomorrow. What we can already celebrate is that whoever wins in Moscow tonight and tomorrow, it will be a member of the European Union, which is a significant and growing partner in the Philippines in many fields, and clearly also a quite successful group on football fields.
By the way, all those who would like to watch the match between Belgium and England here at the Residence are welcome to stay, and as we say in France, que le meilleur gagne.
Nous vous souhaitons à tous une très bonne soirée. We wish all of you a very nice evening.
Vive l’amitié franco-philippine! Mabuhay ang pagkakaibigan ng Pilipinas at Pransya. Vive la République et vive la France!
(On the World Cup win: We applaud the victory of the French National Football Team in the 2018 Fifa World Cup after an excellent match against Croatia, whose team played impressively, as well.
This triumph, which comes 20 years after winning the championship for the first time in 1998, symbolizes the spirit, unity, and also the diversity of the French nation, exemplified by athletes such as Alphonse Areola, a young French-Filipino football player who is currently a goalkeeper for Paris Saint-Germain FC.
Today, we are reminded of the power of sports in bringing peoples and cultures together. We thank our Filipino friends who fervently cheered alongside our compatriots throughout the competition, and look forward to more occasions to share our passion for sports in the Philippines.)