Press Release
July 27, 2009

Timor Education Chair lauds RP Health and Education System

Senator Edgardo J. Angara hosted Saturday at the Makati Shangri-La a dinner in honor of members of the parliament from Timor Leste (East Timor), and discussed the political, health, media freedom, education and food issues of both countries; as well as possible partnerships to develop in the future.

The MPs, who come from various political parties of the Timor Leste government, are in the country to obtain information on our basic education system and its laws and regulations and relevant projects like the school feeding program; and to visit the 109 Timorese scholars who are completing studies and training in the Philippines.

Present were Timor Leste's Chair on Education, Health and Culture Virgilio Maria Dias Marcal; CNRT Party's Romeu Moises; FREITILIN's Ilda da Conceicao; PSD Party's Maria da Coasta Exposto and Technical Staff member Rita Sequeira. With them were Amb. Francisco Cepeda from the embassy of Timor Leste to the Philippines; Counsellor Francisco Dionisio Fernandes and Education Attaché Paul Henrique Ribeiro.

Sen. Angara contended, "Since Timor Leste is also situated in a tropical zone just like the Philippines, PhilHealth and the overall health care system adapted in the country would also be effective and appropriate in [Timor Leste]."

Mr. Dias Marcal lauded the Philippines' health care and education system by quipping half-humorously, "We almost never perfect one language because of the strong mix of Portuguese, Spanish, Bahasa and English spoken; hence our scholars are very fortunate to have learned proficient English in the Philippines...You have a very good education system here."

As gesture of grace, Sen. Angara suggested that the Timor Leste government send more scholars from their country to the Philippines for education and training, to which the guests readily nodded in agreement.

Timor Leste has a population of only one million and has been an ally of the Philippines since the Philippine government aided the country with troops in its conflict with and eventually independence from Indonesia in 1999. As small a country as Timor Leste, they speak 33 dialects. Like the Philippines to Spain, Timor Leste was a colony of Portugal in the 16th century, hence the shared culture and values in many respects; including Christianity, one of the focal points in Timor Leste's (struggle for) independence from Indonesia, a Muslim nation.

Both governments have, among others, signed agreements to boost cooperation on marine and fisheries, education network partnerships for research and exchange scholarship and foreign service training. Timor Leste sends students to the Philippines for university and higher learning education and English proficiency lessons and diplomats for training in the country's foreign service institute.

Sen. Angara, who raises Sea Bass, Bangus and Lapu-Lapu in his hometown Baler, suggested to the guests, "With the pristine beaches and highly farmable coasts of Timor Leste, [the Philippines] may introduce our fishing and sea farming system to your fisher folk."

The evening was capped with Sen. Angara presenting each guest a token of appreciation for their visit: packages of foodstuff, spices and native delicacies in elegantly-designed banig boxes--specially prepared in and transported all the way from Baler that same day.

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