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Byline: Deanna Ongpin-Recto, Contributor
IN THE EARLY 19th century, French travelers Paul de la Gironiere, Jean Mallat and Alfred Marche came to the Philippines and wrote of their exotic journeys in books well-known to and still avidly sought by Filipino scholars and collectors of Filipiniana.
Later in that century, Paris was home to the indios bravos group of noted Filipino intellectuals and artists such as Jose Rizal, Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo. A bronze plaque commemorating the historical fact that Luna and Hidalgo lived and worked in ateliers there, lies embedded in the front wall of one of the buildings at the entree of the Cite Fleurie (Flowering City) on Boulevard Arago in the 13th Arrondissement in Paris.
I was present when this plaque was laid in 1989 by a delegation of Filipinos led by the late Ambassador Felicidad Gonzales and poet-playwright/Unesco commissioner Virginia R. Moreno. I lived for many years on a small street off the Avenue des Gobelins not far from the Cite Fleurie.
Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and France were formalized with the signing of Treaty of Amity on June 26, 1947. Since then, Philippine-French relations have remained strong, and cooperation continues in the areas of politics, trade, tourism and culture.
In the past, there have been opportunities provided for sporadic cultural exchanges and training …