The Feast to Celebrate a 60-Year Friendship
Dr. Nestor Alonso ll (The Freeman) - February 9, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Last January 19, this year, Switzerland Ambassador to the Philippines H. E Andrea Reichlin, hosted a cocktail party at the La Vie Parisienne Restaurant to celebrate the 60th year of diplomatic relations between the Confoederatio Helvetic, the official name of Switzerland, and the Republic of the Philippines.

Switzerland is a relatively small country with a population of slightly over 8 million. The country is landlocked with four official languages, Schweizerdeutsch (Swiss German, 64 percent), French (19 percent), Italian (8 percent) and Romansch (Rhaeto-Romanic, 1 percent). The Philippines has 102 million people and one national language, Filipino (per 1987 Constitution) and two official languages, Filipino and English.  

Switzerland celebrates its National Day on August 1 each year, the day when the Swiss Confederation became independent from the House of Hapsburg (Grütli Pact, 1291). Former Marco Polo Cebu Plaza GM Hans Hauri, who is a Swiss national, began an annual tradition to celebrate the Swiss Independence Day in Cebu City. The Cebu festivity have rituals to follow, beginning with the ringing of the bells, then the parade of Philippine and Swiss Flags, and the singing of the national anthems of both countries. There is a video message from President of the Swiss Confederation and a welcome address from the Ambassador or First Secretary of the Swiss Embassy, and then everyone dine on Swiss cuisine.

H. E Andrea Reichlin said that the highlight of the Swiss National Day celebration is the landing of the Swiss sailboat, the Fleur de Passion, which has a mission to observe, understand and map the state of the oceans. The ship’s trip to Cebu this year is funded by the Fondation Pacifique; the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan in 1519 is their inspiration on this ocean mapping expedition. It left Seville, Spain in April 13, 2015 to undertake a four-year voyage following the same route as Magellan. Honorary French Consul Michel Lhuillier and CEO of Alliance Française de Cebu remarked that the friendship between the Philippines and Switzerland had grown stronger through the years.

Back to the cocktail party, I was fortunate to be a guest in several celebrations of the Swiss National Day and the Swiss Alpine Festival Buffet. Historically, Switzerland is a country of farmers so its traditional foods would be simple like potatoes and cheese. Its quintessential dish is melted cheese in Swiss fondue (Emmentaler and Gruyère cheeses) or Raclette (melted with electric table-top grill) and dribbled over potatoes, gherkins and pearl onions.

Appetizers served were Rosette Pure Pork Tart, Pure Pork Villete Tart & Salmon Tervine Tart. A salad was offered, the Mix Green Salad with Mustard Dressing, Several ham and sausages were served like Jealousy Ham, Ham Bone, Pork Danish Salami, Salami Pure Pork and Ground Classic White Sausage.

While waiting for the Raclette cheeses to melt, I remember that friendship between Switzerland and the Philippines goes beyond 60 years. In fact, it is, excuse me, a 107 year-old business relationship that began in 1911 when Nestlé and Anglo Swiss Condensed Milk Company opened its offices in Binondo.

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