ITALIAN Ambassador to Manila Marco Clemente said the Philippines is the "best door" to Asia for a European, as he described Filipinos as one of the "best integrated communities" in Italy.

The ambassador said that he is happy that he will end his foreign service career in the Philippines.

"I cannot think of a better way to wrap it up. I was interested in serving in this part of the world. But the Philippines is the best door to Asia for a westerner, for a European," he said during a roundtable interview with The Manila Times Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dante "Klink" Ang 2nd.

Clemente promoted a coffee-table book entitled "Philippines-Italy Rising Together (1947-2022)," which he authored, that discussed the history and highlighted the richness of Philippine-Italian bilateral relations.

The Philippines and Italy celebrated 75 years of diplomatic ties in 2022.

"I'm here to present one of the effects of our celebration of that momentous event, which is this book," he said.

"It's a nice way to remember. Seventy-five years is a long time. But I think from my humble perspective that I cannot think outside the European Union, perhaps, of a bilateral relationship which has always been so good all this time," Clemente said.

He said that one of the most important factors for the harmonious bilateral ties between Manila and Rome is the presence of almost 200,000 Filipinos in Italy.

"They are really part of our family. They are one of the best integrated communities we have in Italy. Of course, the commonality of our culture helps," Clemente said.

He lauded the way Filipinos integrate with Italian society and "the sense of belonging that sometimes you don't find in other communities."

"So the main reason for this excellent bilateral relationship, I think, lies specially to this important human factor," Clemente stressed.

"I'm not surprised at all, but still it's a fact that in these 75 years and more, because now we are entering the 77th [in] 2024, we haven't had one reason to, I wouldn't say fight, but not even argue; the relations have always been very, very good," he said.

"As ambassador [of Italy] to Manila, I wanted to reiterate that 'you are by our side all the time.'"

"I think that all the people I know in Italy, my compatriots, have had in their life a Filipino or a Filipina living in their household, taking care of their elder, taking care of their children," the envoy said.

"I am one of them because my now 16-year-old [son] when he was younger, had a Filipina nanny from Mindoro. At that time, I had no clue about where Mindoro was, of course, now I know very well, and she is still remembered," he said. "Unfortunately, we lost track of her. But my son still remembers her with fondness and nostalgia even."

2023-11-28T16:18:27Z dg43tfdfdgfd