Aquino to meet Filipinos in Italy in historic and rare visit
ROME—President Aquino is set to meet with the Filipino community Thursday afternoon, the second day of his working visit to the Italian capital.
An estimated 500 Filipinos, working and living here in Rome, will get to see President Aquino up close, six months before he steps down from office on June 30 next year.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 pm (12:30 a.m., Friday, in Manila) and is expected to last for an hour, according to the President’s official schedule released by Malacañang to the media delegation covering Mr. Aquino’s working visit.
A choir comprised of Filipino children will sing the national anthem.
On Wednesday night, President Aquino heard from Italy’s top leaders themselves their admiration for the Filipinos in Italy, saying that they have made “significant contributions” to Italy.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, a former mayor of Florence, told President Aquino at their bilateral meeting that Filipinos “integrated well and exemplified values of community.”
Philippine Ambassador to Italy Domingo Nolasco told Radio-TV Malacañang (RTVM) that the Filipino community has been “excited to meet the President.”
Nolasco said it would be the first time in a “long time” that a Philippine President would meet Filipinos here.
“So we extended the invitations to Filipinos all over Italy through the honorary consuls that we have around Italy plus through the different organizations,” Nolasco said.
Nolasco said that for the last two years, most of the Filipino immigrants to Italy were family members joining relatives who have become Italian residents.
Italy has a “very liberal integration policy,” promoting family reunification, according to Nolasco.
One of the challenges, however, faced by the Filipino immigrants has been the language barrier.
“Many of them cannot easily integrate or live here because of the language barrier,” Nolasco said.
Nolasco said another “main problem” has been the number of unemployed young Filipino immigrants of working age.
He said that to address this challenge, the embassy and Filipino organizations have been reaching out to the Filipino youth and encouraging them to take part in the European Youth Guarantee Program.
The program has been matching the new residents with a job opening or an internship, Nolasco said. SFM
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