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Milan Expo 2015

The next party is the Milan Expo 2015 (1 May-31 October); but we won’t be there.

PENNY WISE, POUND FOOLISH?  The Milan Mayor’s office said we didn’t sign up; and CITEM confirmed that killjoys in the Aquino administration decided not to participate because of budgetary reasons.

30MILANO EXPO 2015Expo 2015, themed “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” is futurologists’ concerns about the quality of food, compounded by MIT forecast to the Club of Rome of increasing uncertainties regarding the quantities available globally.

As Ambassador to France, I was instructed in 2008 to deliver to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) the Philippine vote for Milan Expo over the competitor Izmir (Turkey).

FLASHBACK.  When I assumed as Ambassador to Germany in 1999, my first caller was the German Expo Coordinator with a desperate message: Why was PH not participating at the Hanover 2000 Expo?  (PH was “Partner Country” at the 1998 Hanover Industrial Fair.)

We weren’t joining because the incoming Joseph Estrada government was counting pennies.  To cut to the chase, with Eli Pinto-Mansour as partner, we robbed Peter to pay Paul…and we resurrected the dead.   Ed Calma did the PH booth which was one of the award-winning exhibits.  (See Monday column for our bragging rights at Hanover Expo 2000.)

MILAN EXPO.  There are 142 countries participating this year (from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe)  —  including all of ASEAN (except Singapore and PH).

Milan is confident of drawing millions of Italian and international visitors.  Visitors to recent Expos:  Hanover 2000 (18 million visitors); Aichi, Japan, 2004 (22 million); Zaragosa, Spain, (5.7 million); Shanghai 2010 (73 million).

PH participation at Milan is a natural because:

Philippine designers have been making waves in Italy and in Europe.

Tourism – the traffic of visitors at Expo is the largest market to advertise that It’s More Fun in the PH.

And (last, but not the least reason) we have the largest congregation of OFWs in Italy, who are very much appreciated.  (In his time, then Pope and now St. John Paul II said our OFWs are today’s evangelizers because we fill the churches, restore faith to families, and teach children catechism.)

Showcasing the best and finest of PH at the Milan Expo 2015 is doing the right thing by our OFWs in Italy.

(Ambassador Libran Cabactulan can vouch witnessing how high the OFWs raised their heads in the United Arab Emirates when CCP President Dr. Raul Sunico performed a solo piano recital at the Abu Dahbi concert hall.)

But if Budget Secretary Butch Abad cannot recover PDAF funds for Milan Expo, President Benigno Aquino III only needs to approve a Philippines Pavilion and outsource it to the private sector.  (Only official government pavilions are allowed in the Expo grounds.)

(USA has signed an intent to have a pavilion, if it can secure non-government funding through “Friends of the US Pavilion Milano 2015.”)

A QUESTION OF HONOR.   PH can still submit its intent to join.  For love of country, Rashmi and Ravi Singh of the HW (Health & Wellness) Pilipinas, some concerned citizens, and a group from Milan will raise the funds and draw the program for PH exhibit at Milan Expo.

MONEY CAN’T BUY.  This will be one of the most notable PPP activities of the Aquino administration – with biggest bang for bucks.

More on Monday: How our participation at Hanover Expo 2000 changed the world’s view of the PH.  FEEDBACK: