The Philippines and Norway enjoy robust and cordial relations in all three pillars of Philippine foreign policy- economic, political and people-to- people cooperation.
The maritime sector is one of the most important aspects of RP-Norway bilateral relations, dating back to the 1900's. Today, Norwegian ship owners employ approximately 35,000 Filipino seafarers in shipyards or on board Norwegian owned or controlled vessels, a testimonial to the trust and confidence Norwegian shipowners have placed over the years for Filipino seafarers. Despite the global economic crisis that ravaged the shipping industry in 2008 and 2009, this area of employment has not slackened. Filipino seafarers benefit as well from the education and training provided by sophisticated Norwegian maritime training schools in the Philippines. Norwegian ship owners have been building and repairing vessels in Philippine shipyards. Many companies engaged in the maritime sector have put up offices in the Philippines.
Other areas point to a promising future. With the purchase in 2007 of the Magat and Ambuklao and Binga hydroelectricity plants by SN Power and their Filipino partner, the Aboitiz group, cooperation in the area of renewable energy between the two countries should continue as both countries have declared their commitments to develop and use renewable energy. New areas of commercial cooperation include aquaculture, telecommunications, the petroleum sector and the use of IT in outsourcing. There has also been a marked increase in the number of Norwegian tourists visiting the Philippines.
There is an increasing number of Filipinos in Norway, now home to over 12,000 hard-working and highly educated Filipinos. In addition to Filipinos who have intermarried with Norwegians, there are at least 900 licensed Filipino nurses , over a hundred oil engineers employed mostly in offshore projects in the western coast of Norway and Filipinos or Norwegians of Filipino descent working in the government sector, diplomatic missions and NGO's and commercial establishments. While fiercely proud of their heritage, Filipinos in Norway have shown a remarkable capacity to integrate into Norwegian culture and at the same time contribute elements of their culture making this Scandinavian society a melting pot of diverse cultures. The 2007 Miss Norway, Miss Kirby Ann Basken, is half Filipino, half Norwegian. They have also time and again rallied to the help of their motherland, the Philippines, when disasters such as typhoons and earthquakes strike. They remit a good amount of their earnings to their families in the Philippines and have their own investments in the country of their origin.
Norway is also playing a significant role as a third-party facilitator between GOP and the CCP-NDF-NPA, in the Philippine government's efforts to find a lasting solution in the peace process. Both countries have also supported each other in the United Nations and other fora, especially in the areas of human rights, gender equality and global peace.
History of Philippine-Norwegian Diplomatic Relations
The Philippines established diplomatic relations with Norway on 2 March 1948. Minister Nikolai Aal was the first official to represent Norway in the Philippines (based in what was then Nanking, China). From 1952 to 1956, Norway was represented by a Consulate, later, by a Consulate General in Manila. The Embassy was opened in 1967.
In the past, the Philippine Ambassador in the United Kingdom was responsible for our relations with Norway along with Denmark. In June 1986, this responsibility was transferred from the Philippine Embassy in London to the Philippine Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden.
Due to the increasing number of Filipinos in Norway as well as the many promising opportunities in energy and marine/maritime-related fields, the Philippines established its Embassy in Oslo, Norway on 30 April 2007.
Facts, Figures and Trivia
Here are some interesting facts, figures and trivia about the Philippines and Norway.
- Both the Philippines and Norway have long coastlines which initially appear disproportionate to their size. The Philippines has 36,289 km of coastline while Norway has over 25,000 km of coastline. How is this possible? The Philippines is composed of around 7,000 islands (some are quite tiny), each of which has its own coastline. All those coastlines combined add up! Meanwhile, Norway has between three to four thousand fjords. Without the fjords and bays, Norway’s coastline would be reduced to merely 2,532 kilometers.
- The highest mountains of both the Philippines and Norway span more than 2,000 meters. Mt. Apo, the highest mountain in the Philippines which is located in Davao in the island of Mindanao, stands at 2,954 meters. Meanwhile, Galdhopiggen, which is located within the municipality of Lomm in the Jotunheimen mountain area, stands at 2,469 meters. It is the highest mountain in all of Scandinavia.
- Both the Philippines and Norway are strong seafaring nations, tracing their peoples’ thirst for exploration and deep sense of wanderlust as early as the 13th and 8th centuries AD respectively when the Sultan of Sulu reigned over the seas of Southeast Asia and the Vikings conquered neighboring countries in Europe, North Africa, parts of Russia and Constantinople. Today, the pull of the sea is ever present in both countries as Norway produces, owns and operates the most number of ships plying the world’s seas, employing 35,000 Filipino seamen in the process – the largest number of seafarers belonging to merely one nationality in the world.
- A Norwegian shipping company, Höegh Autoliners, builds ships in the Philippine island of Cebu.
- Last October 12, 2007, Höegh Autoliners delivered the first of two modern car carrier vessels built in Cebu and promptly named the vessel Höegh Manila – Manila being the national capital of the Philippines.
- Fish and other seafood feature prominently in both Norwegian and Filipino dishes.
- Bangus or milkfish is a favorite staple of Filipinos while cod fish is a Norwegian favorite. Due to high demand for both types of fish, the Philippines and Norway have each developed scientific ways of farming their favorite fish, effectively enriching each of their fishing industries.
- In 2002, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic resources, together with prominent Universities in the Philippines specializing in marine studies, tied up with the Norway Institute of Aquaculture Research to develop the genetic qualities of farmed Tilapia.
- Private tie-ups have also taken place. In 2004 GenoMar Supreme Philippines, Inc. (GSP) received ISO certification as a Tilapia Multiplier and Hatchery facility. GSP, a subsidiary of GenoMar ASA (Norway), has made history by being the first Tilapia multiplier and hatchery facility in the Philippines, and possibly even in the whole of Asia.
- The process of “cooking” Sild is the same as the Philippine dish known as “Kilawin”.
- Får i kål is the Norwegian counterpart of the Filipino dish “Nilaga”. Both dishes are cooked exactly the same way.
- The Filipino’s favorite dessert, leche flan, has a counterpart in Norway known as caramel pudding which is also a Norwegian favorite.
- Ribbe, which features prominently during Christmas celebrations in Norway, is cooked the same way as Lechon Kawali, also a favorite Christmas and all-around celebration dish of Filipinos.
- Christmas is the favorite holiday of both Filipinos and Norwegians. In the Philippines, the Christmas season promptly begins on September 1st, as chillier winds and Christmas carols start filling the air, and ends on the first week of January, during the Feast of the Three Kings. Meanwhile, the Christmas season in Norway starts during the first week of advent, and culminates on the evening of December 24, when families gather together around the Christmas tree to sing carols and open gifts.
- Both Norway and the Philippines have “precious” monikers. Norway is known as the “Jewel of the North” while the Philippines is known as the “Pearl of the Orient”
- Norway’s national flower is the purple heather while the Philippines’ is the sampaguita. Both flowers are widely used as ornaments.
- Both the Philippines and Norway have regal animals for their national emblems. The Philippines’ emblem is the Giant Monkey-Eating Eagle, while Norway’s is the Lion Fuglekonge.
- Both the Philippines and Norway have many different national costumes according to where in the country one comes from. Genarally called the Barong Tagalog (male) and Baro’t Saya (female) in the Philippines and Bunad in Norway, said costumes involve intricate and exquisite craftsmanship and are worn proudly during special occasions.
60th Anniversary Logo
In November 2007, The Philippine Embassy in Oslo launched a Logo Contest for the anniversary of Philippine-Norway Diplomatic Relations that will be celebrated in 2008. A total of six entries were received. The entry of Rebecca Austria Garcia became the basis for the winning logo which was later refined by Agnes Pedrosa Marelid. After a series of consultations the Embassy and Norwegian Foreign Ministry Officials, the logo above was approved.
The logo fully depicts 60 long years of friendship and solidarity between the Philippines and Norway, symbolized by the following:
- Philippine and Norwegian flags flying side by side, with the Northern Lights of Norway as background
- Anchor and Compass representing the strong maritime relations of the two countries
- Sea Waves and Mountains signifying the scenic landscapes of the two countries and the collaboration that will continue between the peoples and governments of the Philippines and Norway in the years ahead.