1st Europe-wide Conference of Overseas Filipinos Ends with a Global D2D Declaration

The first ever global conference of Filipinos in Europe with its thrust of Diaspora to Dialogue (D2D) was held from September 27 to 29 at the Aran Mantegna Hotel in Rome Italy. What originally was intended as a conference of Overseas Filipinos in Europe ended as a global conference of Overseas Filipinos with 250 participants coming from 15 European countries, two from the Middle East, three from Asia, and two from North America.

The theme, “Think! Dialogue! Empower! Engage!” spurred a forum to discuss common issues and concerns as well as exchange best practices in coping with the adjustments and attendant concerns in the Filipino migrants’ host and home countries, impacting their social and economic lives and their families left behind.

The Conference culminated in a “Rome Declaration of Commitment” which seeks to strengthen more than 700, 000 overseas Filipinos in Europe. The delegate-signatories committed to promote the implementation of the “Declaration” through their regional and national networks and platforms, mindful of its linkage to the Global Filipino Diaspora Council, which was formed during the First Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora held in the Philippines in 2010.

The resultant “Declaration” was an unprecedented continent-wide dialogue on the Filipino migrant community’s concerns and desire to help in the development both of their host and home countries. It provides a framework for Filipino communities to interact and work with multi-sectoral sectors of both host and home countries in addressing issues, encouraging participation, empowering migrants and strengthening the Filipino diaspora’s capacity to integrate with the host country and re-engage with the Motherland.

An ad hoc regional structure, the European Network of Filipino Diaspora (ENFD) was established to rollout the commitment of the delegates. Additionally, ENFD would send their official representatives to the 2nd Diaspora Global Summit in 2013 to be held in the Philippines. (See www.d2d.ph for the full text of the declaration.)

After the successful 2010 First Global Summit of Filipinos in Diaspora held in the Philippines, the Filipino-Italian delegates who became members of the formative Global Filipino Diaspora Council (GFDC) approached the Philippine Embassy-Rome to host a European follow-up conference. The encouraging and whole-hearted embrace of the Philippine Ambassador to Italy, Virgilio Reyes jump-started the organizational process with full administrative backing of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO). The initial funding commitment from International Organization for Migration-Italy (IOM) and Comune di Roma plus the legal framework provided by the Scalibrini International Migration Institute (SIMI) laid the groundwork for the historic turnout of the D2D-Europe.

The donations by a host of private and government agencies represented in Italy, as well Manila-based business organizations, fueled the success of the conference. They cannot be left unmentioned. See whole list in the www.d2d.ph/Sponsor.

The corps of volunteers representing various Filipino organizations in Rome was the backbone for the smooth workflow, they too cannot should not go unnoticed. See whole list in the www.d2d.ph/Organizers.