In the shadow of recent distinction given to the Philippines by the World Travel Awards as the world's leading beach and dive destination for 2022, the Philippine Embassy, led by Ambassador Giovanni E. Palec, participated as an exhibitor during the PHILOXENIA 2022: 37th International Tourism Exhibition held on 18-20 November 2022 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Mr. Nikolaos Margaropoulos, Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Thessaloniki, Mr. Gerard O. Panga, Tourism Attaché based in London, and Ms. Karina Salve Untalan, Megaworld International Senior Country Manager for Europe, joined the Embassy during the three-day tourism promotion activity.
PHILOXENIA, together with its parallel exhibitions – Hotelia and Real Estate Expo North – have attracted 24,153 visitors, 335 exhibitors from 18 countries and welcomed 115 hosted buyers from 35 countries, as well as a business delegation of 158 people from Iraqi Kurdistan, coordinated by the Erbil Chamber of Commerce. During the three-day event, around 3,500 meetings between the exhibitors and buyers as well as several parallel events took place. At the same time more than 50 foreign investors visited the Real Estate Expo North.
During the expo, the Embassy promoted the Philippines as the next travel destination and distributed around 1,000 tourism brochures as the Philippine booth showcased posters of Philippine destinations such as Intramuros, Boracay, Palawan, Banaue, Bohol, Cebu, Camiguin, Vigan, Siargao, and Zambales. The Embassy, together with Tourism Attaché Panga and Ms. Untalan, also met more than 100 expo visitors, hosted buyers, travel agencies and tour operators not only from Greece but also from other Balkan and European countries.
Prior to the PHILOXENIA in Thessaloniki, Mr. Gerard Panga and Ms. Karina Salve Untalan conducted a tourism and investment presentation on 16 November 2022 at President Hotel in Athens. During the event, Mr. Panga presented developments on the Philippine tourism sector while Ms. Untalan introduced real estate investment opportunities which generated keen interest among the attendees. Among the Greek and Filipino audience were Honorary Consuls Mr. Nikos Margaropoulos (Thessaloniki) and Mr. Harry Vafias (Piraeus).
Philippine Honorary Consul in Thessaloniki, Mr. Nikolaos Margaropoulos, was elected as the new President (2022-2025) of the World Federation of Consuls (FICAC) during the 13th World Congress of Consuls held on 06-09 November 2022 in Limassol, Cyprus. Honorary Consul Margaropoulos, a lawyer by profession, has been serving as a Philippine Honorary Consul for 27 years, since 1995.
H.E. Giovanni E. Palec, Ambassador of the Philippines to Greece and Cyprus, as well as Ms. Charmagne Garcia-Laconico, Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Larnaca, and Ms. Anastasia Manolopoulou, Honorary Consul of the Philippines in Patras, attended the event to support Honorary Consul Margaropoulos for the elections.
Speakers during the 13th World Congress of Consuls include Mr. Ioannis Kasoulides, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus; Mrs. Annita Demetriou, President of the Cyprus House of Representatives; Mr. Nicos Nicolaides, Mayor of Limassol; and Mr. Christos Tsanos, Chairman of the Honorary Consular Corps of Cyprus.
The World Federation of Consuls or FICAC (Federation Internationale des Corps et Associations Consulaires) is composed of Consular Corps and Associations from more than 90 countries, with more than 25,000 member Consuls. New members of the Board of Directors were also elected during the 13th World Congress of Consuls including Vice-President Asif A. Chowdhury, CMO (Bangladesh), Secretary General Purrshottam Bhaggeria (India), Treasurer Jelil Bouraoui (Tunisia), Borislav Boyanov (Bulgaria), Stelio Campanale (Italy), François Piers (Belgium), Mirza Ikhtiar Baig (Pakistan), Marko Smole (Slovenia), Ami Orkaby (Israel), Karim Qubain (Honduras), and Louis Vella (USA).
The Philippine Embassy held its Christmas Tree Lighting activity on was held on November 11, 2022 at the garden of the Ambassador’s residence to welcome the Yuletide season. The event showcased the Philippine tradition of celebrating Christmas to invited guests from the Diplomatic Corps. The event was highlighted by the lighting of the Christmas tree and the singing of the Christmas Carols by Embassy personnel and their families.
Guests were welcomed by Ambassador Palec who began the event with an introduction of the symbolism of the Christmas Tree and the message it conveys, and explained how Christmas is celebrated in the Philippines. The tree was lighted after the Embassy family headed by Ambassador and Madame Palec sung “Oh Christmas Tree” a song serenading the Christmas tree, followed by a series of Filipino and English Christmas songs. Messages of the songs were conveyed before rendering each song. The guests warmly applauded at the end of every song. The Embassy performance was guided by conductress Angelita Edrozo, pianist Renato Mendoza and guitarists Venn Angkico and Dominic Royce Edrozo from the Filipino community.
This year’s Christmas tree lighting was witnessed by guests from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Agliai Balta, the Chief of Protocol and A9 Deputy Director Mr. Ioannis Chatzantonakis and spouse, and members from the diplomatic and consular corps and their family members, member of the clergy, key contacts and friend of the Embassy.
The guests enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere, with the lighted tree and the decorated grounds of the residence. Filipino dishes and delicacies were served: Pancit, Chicken adobo wrap, pork and chicken barbeque; sizzling tofu, chicken ala king, and desserts like, buko pandan, cassava cake, brazo de Mercedes bar and kutsinta.
The event gathered the Embassy’s friends and guests from the diplomatic corps in the true Filipino Fashion. It was a also a way of expressing gratitude to the established friendship with the guests.
The ASEAN Committee in Athens (ACAT) under the Chairmanship of the Royal Thai Embassy in Athens headed by its Charge D’ Affaires, a.i, Mr. Pornsith Pibulnakarinth, held an Excursion Day for ACAT Embassy personnel and family members in which connection with Thailand’s hand-over of ACAT Chairmanship to Vietnamese Ambassador H.E. Mr. Lee Hong Truong.
In attendance were: Indonesian Ambassador Bebeb A.K.N Djundjunan, Philippine Ambassador Giovanni Palec, Thailand Embassy’s CDA, Mr. Pornsith Pibulnakarinth, and H.E. Le Hong Truong, Ambassador of Vietnam, along with ACAT Embassy personnel and their family members.
The program included a guided tour around the olive grove and the refinery at Konstas Olive Oil Refinery in Kalivia Thorikou in Attica municipality, 30 kilometers from Athens.
The ACAT tour participants were received by the owner of the Olive Oil Refinery, Mrs. Stayvoula Konstas who led the tour of the refinery, equipped with the modern machinery in producing excellent and refined olive oil. Mrs Konstas explained the history of the business which started in 1970, the olive trees, the freshly harvested olives of different varieties and colors, free from pesticides, the harvest season which starts from early October to late December; the stages of cultivation, and production process from fruit to oil, with its modern methods of the extraction process. Participants also strolled around the olive grove. Mrs. Stayvoula stressed that their refinery receives olives and processes using cold press extraction in producing the best extra virgin olive oils. They prune trees and plough the soil without exploiting the land. Extracts of the olives are also used to feed the animals, hence there is no wastage in the whole process of extracting the olives from fruit to oil.
Participants were later treated to a taste of freshly processed olive oil, fresh olives and delicacies with olive oils and gifted with a 100 ml bottle of extra virgin olive oil. The tour ended with a photo opportunity of the ACAT member Embassies participants.
Luncheon followed at Lavraki seafood restaurant near the Konstas Refinery, after which a meeting among the ACAT Ambassadors and Thailand CDA which discussed the calendar of activities of the ACAT for the remaining months of the year. The meeting ended with the with the turn-over by Thailand’s CDA Mr. Pornsith Pibulnakarinth of its Chairmanship to Vietnam Ambassador H.E. Le Hong Truong of Vietnam.
The ACAT Chairmanship rotates among the ACAT ASEAN Embassies every six months.
Philippine Ambassador to Greece Giovanni E. Palec met with Cyprus’ Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ioanis Kasoulides on 14 October 2022.
The Ambassador thanked the Minister for the hospitality received by the thousands of Filipinos working in Cyprus. He observed that the Philippines and Cyprus have many similarities and have much to learn from each other. The Minister affirmed Cyprus’ continuing support for the Philippines in bilateral and multilateral affairs. They discussed ways on how to strengthen ties between the two countries based on shared values and principles.
The Philippine Embassy in Athens provided services to the Filipino communities in Cyprus on 15-16 October 2022 at Centrum Hotel in Nicosia, Cyprus. Ambassador Palec led the team.
The mission processed a total of 140 consular services: 102 passport applications, 8 reports of birth, 8 reports of marriage (ROM), 19 affidavits, 2 retention and reacquisition of Philippine citizenship, and 1 NBI clearance. Renewal of OWWA membership reached 194 and POLO verified 129 contracts. The mission also released 102 new passports applied for during the previous outreach in Limassol, Cyprus in July 2022.
A Town Hall Meeting was held at the sidelines of the mission with the different leaders of Filipino organizations in Cyprus.
Ambassador Palec informed the meeting of the improved website of the Philippine Embassy designed to be a mobile friendly site. He also provided updates on Embassy activities.
Labor Attaché Cynthia Cruz briefed the meeting on the new Department of Migrant Workers (DMW). She explained DMW is a consolidation of migration related functions of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), with Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)- Overseas Workers Welfare and Administration (OWWA) under its purview; the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), with its Office of Undersecretary of Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA); and the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), with its Office of Social Welfare Affairs (OSWA). The new DMW will render the same services to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Digitization, however, will make changes in the new DMW as most transactions for its services will be online, adding that the DMW will be operationalized in January 2023.
The meeting also discussed concerns of the Filcom leaders. Amb. Palec acknowledged the efforts made by the leaders in helping our fellow Filipinos. He stressed that the Filipino organizations are recognized as partners of the Embassy in addressing the needs of the Filipino community. Filcom leaders also updated the meeting of forthcoming activities for the Filcom in Cyprus.
Ambassador Palec administered the oath to the new set of officers of the Federation of Filipino Organization in Cyprus (FFOC) for 2022-2023. The FFOC’s advocacies include health, climate change, women, religion and the elderly.
Prior to the conduct of consular mission, the Embassy, led by Ambassador Palec, provided training on consular services including administrative and financial concerns to the Philippine Consulate in Nicosia and Larnaca with Honorary Consul Kriton Tornaritis and staff members in attendance.
Philippine Ambassador Giovanni E. Palec met with Ms. Anabelle and Giovanni Margaroli, owner of Omniprime Marketing Inc., OMI-JKG Philippines, Inc., and OMI-Diversified Ltd. Partnership, on 19 October 2022 at the Philippine Embassy.
Ms. Margaroli is currently in Athens to meet with representatives of Intrasoft, an information technology (IT) solutions company and a business partner of OMI-JKG Philippines, Inc. in view of a possible e-customs processing system project.
Netcompany-Intrasoft is a major European IT Solutions and Services Group with strong international presence and offers innovative and added-value solutions to a wide range of international and national public and private organizations. The company undertakes trade facilitation and customs modernization projects around the world, including projects with the European Union and the ASEAN Customs Transit System (ACTS).
Omniprime Marketing, Inc. conducts business with foreign partners to provide solutions to various government requirements, and has worked with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Land Transportation Office and the Bureau of Customs.
The meeting focused on the implementation of an e-customs processing system project for the Philippines which will utilize a similar system currently being used in many European countries.
The Philippine Embassy in Athens provided consular services to the Filipino communities of northern Greece and North Macedonia in Thessaloniki on 02 October 2022. Consul Therese Cantada led the team and was joined by Labor Attaché Cynthia Cruz of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), and their respective teams.
There were 43 consular applications processed by the mission held in the second largest city in Greece. Among the services extended were passport applications and renewals, reports of birth, and Philippine citizenship retention and reacquisition or dual citizenship. Renewal of OWWA membership reached 11 and POLO verified 7 contracts.
Services during the mission were largely availed by those residing in North Macedonia, which borders Greece in the north. Of the 20 passport applicants, 14 were from North Macedonia, including 10 children under the age of six. All of those who regained Philippine citizenship were also from North Macedonia.
Philippine Honorary Consul to Thessaloniki, Mr. Nikolaos Margaropoulous, and volunteers from the Filipino Organization in Northern Greece, headed by their President, Ms. Rosemarie Nicolas provided technical and logistical support.
27 September 2022 - A mural depicting iconic Philippine scenes was installed at the Philippine Embassy on 27 September 2022, by visiting Filipino artist Ana Karina Jardin in collaboration with the Philippine Embassy personnel and their dependents and selected students from the Philippine School in Greece (PSG). The Embassy personnel and dependents was led by Ambassador Giovanni Palec and Madame Novelyn Palec while the PSG was led by its faculty member Ms. Ellaine Joy Vicedo.
Ms. Jardin with her ingenuity in artwork, guided the Embassy personnel and students in using their talent and skills for the creation of the mural. The mural is an example of Filipino creativity in expressing its culture, values and traditions which are observed until now.
The Embassy thanked Ms. Jardin for her invaluable contribution to the promotion Philippine culture and art to the Filipino Community in Greece. and to the PSG. The Embassy also acknowledged Ms. Vicedo and the PSG students: Johanne Mariea B. Ilagan, Andrea Jenine M. Manual, Erchelle Jayrine G. Pagdilao, Caroline S. Gadia, Danica Grace H. Yadao, Liu Zikun and Huang You Rong for their participation. Certificates of appreciation were given to Ms. Jardin and the students of PSG at the end of the mural creation.
20 September 2022 - The Philippine Embassy met with the leaders of the Filipino community for its regular quarterly meeting in-person, in Athens on 18 September 2022 at the Embassy, and via zoom for those who were unable to join in person. Ambassador Giovanni E. Palec, Chair of the meeting was joined by Labor Attache Cynthia M. Cruz, Consuls Judy Robianes and Consul Therese Cantada and Welfare Officer Marivic Mondina
The following Filipino organizations were represented in person by its leaders/representative: Triskelion Greece National Council, Filipino Christian Fellowship of Athens, (FCFA), Accredited Community Partners (ACP), Bicol United Organization, Cordillera Cultural Minorities (CCM/BUDABOSA), Team-BA Organization, Piraeus Group Organization, Golden Wisdom Advocate (GWA), The Crossroaders Athens and Affiliates Athens Greece, while the Filipino Group of Heraklion Crete, Reborn Guardians Greece Legion Chapter (RGBWI), Eternum Fidels Gai Greece Chapter, El Shaddai Piraeus Chapter and Filipino Organization in Northern Greece attended via zoom.
Ambassador Palec updated the meeting, among others, the improved Embassy website which is accessible using mobile phones, particularly on making appointments for passport application through the Global Appointment System (GOAS); on the importance of the National Identification, and on the possibility of setting up of “Lupon Ng Baranggay” to address common concerns/grievances of the Filcom outside the Embassy’s control. Labatt Cruz, briefed the meeting on the new Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) and the importance of the Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC). She emphasized that with the new DMW, benefits and services for OFWs remains the same. She likewise stressed the importance of OWWA membership and the OEC for OFWs to be able to avail of its programs like seminars on integration of OFWs to the host country of deployment and reintegration of OFWS upon their return to the Philippines.
The meeting featured visiting Filipino visual artist, Anna Karina Jardin and her artworks who shared the meeting about Filipino heritage and artistry; it also featured a video on the winning architecture landscape “Horizon Manila” by WTA Architecture and Design Studio on Urban Planning/Landscape Architecture Category at the International Architectural Awards in Acropolis on 09 September 2022. The meeting also addressed the concerns raised by the Filcom in attendance via Zoom. The meeting ended with a group photograph of all in attendance.
11 September 2022 - H.E. Ambassador Giovanni E. Palec attended the Caregiving Course given by Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO)-Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) led by Ms. Cynthia Cruz, Labor Attaché and Ms. Marivic Mondina, Welfare Officer and staff members.
The caregiving course being conducted by POLO-OWWA in Ambelokipi, Athens is a twelve (12)-session course which started on 11 September 2022 and rans until 27 November 2022 in two batches per session morning session from 9:00am to 12:00nn and afternoon session from 1:00pm to 3:00pm.
Ms. Mondina welcomed the participants to the training course while Ambassador Palec delivered his remarks for the participants. He encouraged the participants to finish the course and take advantage of the opportunity to upgrade their skills and to more easily prepare them for their eventual reintegration when they return to the Philippines. Ms. Hope Torres-Tigas, Filipino spouse of a Greek national is the trainer for the seminar.
22 August 2022 - H.E. Ambassador Giovanni Palec, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines attended the Philippine Overseas Labor Office – Overseas Workers Welfare Administration’s (POLO-OWWA) Skills Training on Meat Processing and Dimsum Making in Athens, Greece on 21 August 2022, which was administered by Ms. Cynthia Cruz, Labor Attache, Ms. Marivic Mondina, Welfare Officer and staff members.
The training was POLO-OWWA’s first in-person seminar this year as it resumes its face-to-face Programs for Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in Athens. It gave the opportunity to around 30 OFWs to learn about longganisa and tocino making and the siomai and siopao preparation.
Ms. Mondina welcomed the participants, followed by the remarks of Ambassador Palec who encouraged the participants to become culinary ambassadors of Philippine cuisine by sharing what they learned with their Greek employers and friends. He also told them that training skills would help prepare their reintegration when they return to the Philippines for good. Mr. Danilo Robles lead the demonstration for the longganisa, tocino making while Mr. Manolo Barrios demonstrated the siomai and siopao preparation. The participants eagerly participated in the preparation of each dish after every demonstration. The training ended with a group photograph followed by a lunch with all the participants of the skill training seminar.
Celebrates ASEAN Day 2022
18 August 2022 - H.E. Giovanni E. Palec, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines joined the Ambassadors of the ASEAN Committee in Athens (ACAT) – H.E. Bebeb A.K.N Djundjunan Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, H.E. Attakarn Wongchanamas, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Thailand, and Le Hong Truong, Ambassador of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam - in the celebration of the 55th Anniversary of the Founding of ASEAN at the residence of the Thai Ambassador, the current chair of ACAT. The Guest of Honor was H.E. Ambassador Aglaia Balta, Chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the Hellenic Republic. The celebration was also attended by Mr. Ioannis Hatzantonakis, Deputy Director of A9 Directorate for Asia and Oceania of the MFA, Dr. Savvas Tzanis, Honorary Consul of Malaysia, the spouses of the ASEAN Ambassadors, and personnel of the ACAT Embassies.
The celebration began with the singing of the ASEAN Anthem, followed by welcome remarks by H.E. Amb. Wongchanamas as the ACAT Chair, ASEAN cake-cutting ceremony by the four Ambassadors of ACAT and the Honorary Consul of Malaysia, and followed by a demonstration of Thai boxing (Muaythai). The event was capped by group photo sessions. The celebration ended with a buffet brunch featuring different food provided by the ASEAN Embassies. The Philippine Embassy prepared turon (fried banana spring rolls) and okoy (baby shrimp fritters).
The Philippine Embassy in Athens conducted a two-day consular outreach mission in Limassol, Cyprus, the hometown of the President of the Republic of Cyprus H.E. Nicos Anastasiades on 23-24 July 2022.
The outreach mission was headed by First Secretary and Consul Judy Barbara G. Robianes, and joined by Labor Attaché Cynthia Cruz of the Office of the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Welfare Officer Marivic Mondina of the Office of Overseas Workers and Welfare Administration (OWWA), and their respective teams. The mission provided passport renewal and other consular documents, civil registry, administration of oaths of allegiance to Filipinos who reacquired citizenship, as well as contract verification, welfare membership and assistance, consultations and facilitation of inquiries.
The last consular outreach mission in the port city was held on 21-22 April 2018.
The return of the consular team to Limassol is part of the commitment made by the Philippine Embassy to reach out to more Filipinos in Cyprus. The Embassy’s commitment to provide easier access to government services was in remarks of the H.E. Giovanni E. Palec, Ambassador of the Republic of the Philippines during the Independence Day celebration organized by Filipinos in Cyprus in Limassol on 19 June 2022, where President Anastasiades was the guest of honor at the event. The Embassy intends to conduct missions to more cities in Cyprus which host large Filipino populations. Two Philippine Consulates have already been established in Cyprus - in the capital city Nicosia and in the city of Larnaca where the international airport is located.
There are 18,000 Filipinos on the island.
The Philippine Embassy in Athens successfully conducted a two-day consular outreach mission in Nicosia, Cyprus, on 16 and 17 July 2022 (Saturday & Sunday), specifically for the release of newly issued passports to Filipinos in Cyprus.
A total of 277 new passports were released during the two-day mission, processed by the Embassy during its consular outreach missions in Cyprus in April and May 2022. The mission likewise entertained queries on consular matters from the clients present in the site during the two-day passport releasing.
Ms. Mona Dizon and Mr. Angelito Pamintuan of the Consular Section of the Embassy administered the releasing of the passports, assisted by the volunteers from the Filipino Community in Cyprus.