(From left) Italian Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino, Italian Embassy-Jakarta Military Attaché Otello Orsini, Deputy Counsel Eugeniu Rotaru, head of admin Mariagrazia Rotili, head of Consular Service Michele Greco and Second Secretary Lorenza Errighi.
Passion + Prosecco
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - June 20, 2019 - 12:00am

It was a National Day celebration like no other. For one, the invitation said it would be a “music + Italian specialties + Spritz + Prosecco reception.” The dress code: Relaxed. The venue: an art gallery in Quezon City, away from the Central Business District. (Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Giorgio Guglielmino is very fond of the city and his favorite destinations there include the Cubao Expo and the Bellini’s Restaurant). The day: Sunday.

(Seated) Marilou Alejandro and Anna Tirol; (standing) Ambassador Guglielmino, Nedy Tantoco, Patrick Jacinto and Glenn Gale.

The celebration of the Festa della Repubblica, or the day Italy became a republic,  was held at the Ateneo Art Gallery. The open lobby connecting the two buildings of the gallery was festooned by rows of green, white and red banderitas the color of the Italian flag (or Gucci, for that matter). A Filipino rock band played. There were no speeches or toasts. Well, there were lots of toasts, but they were over animated conversations in individual cocktail tables.

The author with Ambassador Guglielmino and another Italian, the Lamborghini.

“I love art,” Guglielmino told me when I asked why the unique venue for the celebration of the Italian National Day. Most countries with embassies in the Philippines hold their national day celebrations in five-star hotels or in the embassy residence.

But this was in a school campus, and the diplomats were in jeans!

 Last year, the Italian Embassy partnered with the Ateneo Art Gallery to help striving artists pursue their passion. It is a dream of Guglielmino for the Italian embassy to have a collection of artworks made by budding Filipino artists.

The lobby of the Ateneo Gallery festooned with green, white and red banderitas.

Despite the many guests, the Festa was wonderfully intimate. It reminded me of a high school homecoming. On the lawn was an artwork that resembled a wall of fire.

Guglielmino said there is something Italy and the Philippines have in common: passion. “Passion for our family, our friends, our beliefs, and of course, our passion to be passionate. There is a fire our two cultures have; a need to enjoy everything life has to offer, a fire that cannot be quenched.”

Risotto with Castelmagno cheese.

In the previous year, the Italian Embassy served street food from the southern parts of Italy. This year, the food was a selection of high-quality specialties from northern Italy; from risotto with Castelmagno cheese to polenta with sausages to cotolette, a meat dish. All of these dishes were perfectly paired with the Spritz cocktail or chilled Prosecco.

The guests stayed past sunset, enjoying the Filipino band and the “firewall” on the lawn — reflecting the passion of Italians and Filipinos, “a fire our two cultures have; a need to enjoy everything life has to offer, a fire that cannot be quenched.”

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

ITALIAN NATIONAL DAY
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