PGA Cars Inc. chairman Robert Coyiuto Jr. receives the Ufficiale dell’Ordine della Stella di Italia (Order of the Star of Italy) from Italian Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino on behalf of Italian President Sergio Mattarella.
What’s written in the Order of the Star?
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - August 6, 2019 - 12:00am

Businessman Robert Coyiuto Jr., chairman and CEO of Prudential Guarantee & Assurance, three-time president of the Philippine Stock Exchange and owner of PGA Cars, distributor of luxury car brands such as Lamborghini, was recently awarded the title Ufficiale dell’Ordine della Stella di Italia (Order of the Star of Italy) by Italian President Sergio Mattarella. Coyiuto was knighted on the President’s behalf by Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino.

This distinction is presented to Italians abroad or foreigners who have acquired special merit in the promotion of ties with Italy.

According to a statement from the Embassy of Italy in Manila, the award was given to Coyiuto “for his outstanding contribution in building relationships between Italy and the Philippines.”

(From left) Robert Coyiuto III, Kathy Coyiuto, Rosie Coyiuto and Robert Coyiuto Jr. with Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino.

“His ties to Italy go beyond the distribution of Italian brands in the automotive sector, since Coyiuto has been collaborating for years with the embassy, actively supporting its activities of cultural promotion, driven by a sincere attachment to our country, of which he has become one of the main sponsors in the Philippines.”

The recent conferment of the award was made more significant by the presence of Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, Manlio di Stefano, who was in Manila to further strengthen the relationship between Italy and the Philippines.

The two countries have enjoyed a warm and cordial relationship since 1947 after the signing of the Treaty of Friendship and General Relations in Rome. Since then, the Philippines and Italy have concluded on several agreements, including those pertaining to scientific and technical cooperation, investments, small and medium enterprises, and various transportation and communication initiatives.

Sta. Elena Construction president and CEO Alice Eduardo, Italy Foreign Affairs Undersecretary of State Manlio di Stefano and Ernesto Escaler.

Italian exports to the Philippines in 2018 alone hit nearly 662.5 million euros, mostly on machinery, electronics, food and leather goods. On the other hand, Italian imports from the Philippines in 2018 amounted to 255.55 million euros, mainly in food, clothing and electronics.

But there are various areas of potential growth, as estimated by the Italian government. According to a statement from the Italian Embassy, “Under the Duterte administration, Italy sees Manila to hold incredible amounts of untapped potential in terms of infrastructure projects, machinery, beverages, pharmaceuticals, and in the automotive industry.”

 The visit by Di Stefano is expected to boost these potentials, a positive development for both countries.

Italy: Ancient & stunning

Sorrento on the Amalfi Coast. Photo by Joanne Rae Ramirez

Former Tourism secretary Mina Gabor once said that Filipinos are “the Italians of Asia.”

They are both passionate, artistic and musically-inclined, among many other shared characteristics. They have big clans, and strong family ties, and though less and less Italians go to church these days, you could see they value such Catholic traditions as a child’s first holy communion — much like Filipinos do.

The largest Filipino community in Europe call Italy home. According to online sources, there are some 110,000 documented Filipinos in Italy, and as many as 80,000 undocumented. The capital Rome is where most of the Filipinos in Italy live and work.

As a tourist, I’ve always loved Italy for its mix of ancient beauty and natural formations — Rome for its colossal edifices, Venice for how it bridges its tiny islands, the Amalfi Coast for its cliffhangers and Lake Como for its lakeside view of the Alps.

During a recent visit, I found the taxi drivers speak English better now, are friendlier — and more predictable with their routes!

I asked Dr. Rebecca Singson, who is married to an Italian and is a member of the Philippine-Italian Association, what she loves most about Italy, and in a heartbeat, she said: “What do I love about Italy? It is that culture that envelopes your being when you set foot on their land. Your senses are pampered with their architecture, the topography of the land and what grows on them; the art, the music, the language, the fashion, the genetically well-proportioned faces that define beauty. I love the food that is ever so delightful to the universal palate! Italy is the sum total of an amplified experience of the soul!”

(People now comes out on Tuesdays and Fridays. You may e-mail me at Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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