FAST FACTS: The many firsts in PH history, courtesy of France
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines on Thursday, February 26, welcomed French President François Hollande, who be in the country for two days. (READ: France's Hollande arrives in PH for climate push)
In a statement released days before the state visit, the French embassy in the Philippines said the visit is meant “to expand and strengthen bilateral ties between France and the Philippines and to highlight the Philippines as a partner in the fight against climate change.”
Hollande's visit to the Philippines is the first by an incumbent French president since the establishment of Philippine-France diplomatic relations in 1947. In 2012, French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault became the first French leader to visit the country since the establishment of the diplomatic relations.
This diplomatic relations were established on June 26, 1947, after the signing of a Treaty of Amity in Paris by then Philippine Vice President Elpidio Quirino, who was also foreign affairs secretary, and then French foreign minister Georges Bidault.
France is credited for a number of firsts in Philippine history:
- 15 Frenchmen were among the crew of Ferdinand Magellan, who discovered the Philippine islands on their way to Spice Islands
- The first Diocesan seminary in the Philippines, the seminary of Saint Clement in Manila, was established in 1704 through a French priest, Monsignor Chalres-Thomas Mailard de Tournon
- France was the first country to establish a consul in Spanish Philippines in March 1824
- France was the first country to recognize the government of President Corazon Aquino after the 1986 EDSA revolution
The current French ambassador to the Philippines in Gilles Garachon, while the incumbent Philippine ambassador to France is Maria Theresa Lazaro.
As of 2012, there were about 50,000 Filipinos in France and about 4,000 French in the Philippines. Most Filipinos living in France are in the services sector and are skilled professionals.
Influence on intellectuals, revolution
The European country also became a significant influence to Filipinos toward the end of the Spanish rule in the country. Some rich and intellectual Filipinos came to France around this time, such as Jose Rizal, Felix Hidalgo, and Juan Luna.
Markers currently lie in areas in Paris to commemorate the Filipinos' stay in the city. They include the marker on the site of the atelier of Juan Luna in Boulevard Arago (14‘h Arrondisement), and the marker in 124 Rue de Rennes for Rizal.
French liberalism has influenced opposition to the Filipino colonial government. Rizal’s novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo were inspired by Alexander Dumas, and were both written in France as the French permitted him to live there in exile.
Andres Bonifacio and Emilio Jacinto – the brains behind the Katipunan – were also inspired by the ideas of Jean Jacques Rousseau, Montesquieu, and Napoleon Bonaparte to launch a revolution against the Spanish rulers.
The Philippine government says France is the country's second largest trading partner in the European Union (EU), with two-way trade reaching $2.39 billion as of October 2014. This represented an increase of 24% from the same period in 2013.
In a 2012 newsletter released by the Philippines-France Business Council, France was named the 3rd-largest contributor of investments in the country, as French investments worth P1.14 billion came in 2011.
"Most investments from France went into private services; electricity, gas, and water; and manufacturing industries," according to the newsletter.
More visitors from France are also making their way into the country. French tourist arrivals in the Philippines increased by 14% from 29,591 in 2011 to 33,709 in 2012. In the first 9 months of 2013, there were 29,263 tourist arrivals from France (more than 17% higher than figures in 2012).
In an article, Garachon said that "French awareness of the Philippines has been increasing of late as cultural, political and academic exchanges between the two countries increase." – Rappler.com