Pinoys in Europe discuss contributions, concerns of diaspora

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Young Euro-Filipinos who participated in the recent conference of Filipinos in Europe. (contributed photo by Evelyn Mueschen)

MANILA, Philippines — More than a hundred Filipino leaders from 12 European countries met recently in Germany to discuss the diaspora and their contributions to both homeland and host countries as well as the common concerns of various communities in the continent.

The self-funded “Kung sama-sama, Kayang-kaya” European Conference of Filipino Diaspora, organized by the European Network of Filipino Diaspora or ENFiD, in Essen from September 30-October 1 also saw the launch of YENFiD, or Young ENFiD, by youth of Filipino-European origin who participated in a parallel forum.

The conference had Filipino experts on migration and development who spoke about how Euro-Filipinos can contribute to sustainable development in the home country as well as how they can profile their contributions to their host countries to create what organizers called “a balance of information about the significant roles of the diaspora in global economy covering both their representations in the host countries and the countries of origin.”

Ambassador to Germany Melita Sta. Maria-Thomeczek, who welcomed the conference participants, invited them to become peace messengers and peacemakers in keeping with what she said was their common goal: to make life better for Filipinos in their home and host countries.

She also gave an update on the Commission on Filipinos Overseas’ Lakbay Aral cultural immersion program for second generation European Filipinos, which invites Filipino-Germans 18-25 years old to visit the Philippines to touch base with their roots.

Sta. Maria-Thomeczek said the CFO has amended the program to make it more affordable to potential participants.

UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Cecilia Jimenez-Damary also joined the conference on Skype to discuss the current human rights situation in the Philippines, while ENFiD partners in the Philippines, represented by former migrants, shared their projects, among these the PhilWise web-based crowd funding platform, which seeks to mobilize the resources of overseas Filipinos for social enterprises in the home country, especially those that promote agribusiness.

Among the projects presented was ENFiD’s biogas digester, the working model for which was developed in Miag-ao, Iloilo. This earned a pledge of support for the fabrication of two more units from two conference participants from France.

The conference also tacked the issues of Euro-Pinoy senior citizens and of integration, while the newly launched sports committee was tasked to organize inter-country sports festivals to bring together Euro-Pinoy communities.

Conference participants also asked ENFiD to take the lead in mapping Filipino artists in visual and performing arts to promote and showcase Filipino art and culture in Europe.

Founded in Rome in 2012, ENFiD is a non-profit organization which is non-political, nonpartisan, non-sectarian. It counts Filipino community leaders in Austria, Belgium, United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, France, Italy, Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, Malta, Ireland and Israel.