Czech Republic, PHL seal fresh set of pacts


FROM defense, science, education and to trade, a wave of new agreements is seen to boost Philippine-Czech cooperation.

National Museum of Prague Director Michal Lukes (left) and National Museum of the Philippines Director Jeremy Barns sign a memorandum of agreement.

With the first Czech Jesuit missionaries in Manila and the Visayas in 1680s, not to mention the Czech defenders of Bataan during World War II, Czech relations with the Filipinos bore deep roots. Apart from the country’s pilgrims visiting Prague’s Santo Niño, plus the tourists eager to walk the city’s historical center, scientists and businessmen nowadays comprise the most frequent visitors following in Rizal’s footsteps from 1887.

Paving the way for strengthened modern-day cooperation in defense and military, the Czech-Philippine Defense Cooperation Agreement was signed on May 29 at the Ministry of Defense in Prague. This agreement adds to the number of previous arrangements and memoranda from science to trade, from culture to education, which deepens not only the cooperation between the two countries, but also among its institutions.

Economic, defense cooperations

AN agreement on economic cooperation between the Philippines and the Czech Republic has also been recently approved by the latter’s government. Philippine National Defense Undersecretary Ricardo A. David Jr. and Czech Deputy Minister Jakub Landovský, head of Defense Policy and Strategy Division of the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic, represented their respective countries for the signing.

De La Salle University-Bacolod President Brother Manuel Pajarillo, FSC, PhD (left) confer with Mendel University President Dr. Ladislav Havel, CSc.

According to Deputy Head of Mission at the Czech Embassy Jan Vytopil, “the agreement spells out areas of cooperation, such as defense and security policy; procurement policy; defense logistics; peacekeeping and humanitarian operations; compliance with international treaties of defense, security and arms control; personnel management; military training and education; as well as other activities that may be agreed by both parties”.

“In this day and age of dynamic international relations, we [need] to have a more deepened relationship through cooperation, for the betterment of both the Philippines and the Czech Republic. This agreement not only shows our aim to promote peace and security for the people and our land, but more important, the valued and shared causes, including understandings, we aim to adhere by”, Czech Ambassador Jaroslav Olša Jr. emphasized.

Literature, education agreements

A TOTAL of 16 cooperation arrangements between universities have opened doors to students and academics alike. An agreement between the National Museums signed last month ushered in joint research and exhibitions in prestigious venues in both capitals.

A new agreement with the Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino (KWF) resulted in the successful publication of important masterworks of national literatures in both languages, which was expanded by similar arrangements with Anvil and Visprint publishers.

Among other arrangements are the 16 memoranda between different universities nationwide, notably with Ateneo de Manila University and the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, as well as other universities, like Mapua Institute of Technology, the Visayan State University in Leyte and De La Salle University Bacolod in Negros.

According to Vytopil, who is behind many of these accords, “They open the door to students and professors to be sent to Prague for training and further their degrees.”

A previously signed agreement on cooperation in culture, education, science and sports also allowed opportunities to the recent arrival of new Filipino students studying in the Czech Republic, who usually excel in the fields of engineering, genetics and marketing.

Furthermore, in terms of cultural relations, a memorandum of agreement with the KWF already resulted in the publication of two titles of Czech and Philippine literature in both countries, with two groundbreaking anthologies of short stories from both countries scheduled for publication this summer.

A Philippine anthology written in Czech language, including the masters of contemporary Philippine literature, will be presented for the first time to Czech readers.

As Olša, himself was selecting the stories for this anthology, he underscored that “it is a wide-range selection covering world-famous writers, such as F. Sionil Jose and Gregorio C. Brillantes, as well as new international literary stars, such as F. H. Batacan and other well-known names of today’s literary scene. It will be a real ‘A-to-Z’ of Philippine literature, from Alfar to Zafra.”

With some Czechs being known to the first Philippine natural scientists, many of the first texts of Georg Kamel (1690s), as well as the Blumentritt Archives deposited in Bohemia, or even the original collections of Thaddeus Haenke (1790s), are still a rich source for research of Philippine scientists. It is no surprise one of the more recent agreements signed on May 11 is between the Czech National Museum of Prague, headed by Director General Michal Lukeš and the National Museum of the Philippines Director Jeremy Barns.

This will enable artists and scientists of the two republics to conduct any upcoming international exhibitions and in-depth researches between both countries.

Last, the Embassy of the Czech Republic has been recently holding talks with brewing universities of its country that would facilitate sharing of the Czech’s thousand-year brewing experience with the “amazingly colorful new wave” of Filipino craft brewers.

Image Credits: Photos by Mir Sindelar

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