TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Philippines' new envoy to Taiwan, Gilberto F. Lauengco, said he is looking forward to expanding bilateral cooperation once the pandemic dies down.
Lauengco, who previously served as deputy representative for the past five years, told Taiwan News that many plans are ready to be implemented or continued after the coronavirus abates.
The representative said there are multiple cultural exchange programs that bring Indigenous Philippine tribe members to the eastern county of Taitung to visit and learn from the Amis tribes, as both groups are classified as Austronesian peoples.
Taiwanese Indigenous organizations have been mentoring their Philippine counterparts on how to promote native agricultural products and establish a tourism industry among local communities. Currently, there are three or four Indigenous Philippine youths studying in eastern Taiwan, Lauengco said.
The envoy mentioned that there are approximately 3,000 Filipino students in Taiwan, with many studying mechanical engineering and linguistics. Some of them are enrolled in experimental work-study programs in mechanical engineering, fashion design, and agriculture that allow students to simultaneously work part-time and gain real-life experience in their specific field, he said.
Lauengco added that the Philippines was about to establish a special program for animal husbandry in southern Taiwan, but it has been canceled for the time being due to the pandemic. He said that the Philippines needs experts in agricultural and related industries because the country must produce more crops, especially as the pandemic continues to rage.
Taiwan and the Philippines are also cooperating on health, cross-border crime prevention, education, and science, the envoy said. He added that a large-scale bilateral ocean exploration project was planned but got canceled due to the pandemic.
Lauengco said that over the years, there are many Taiwanese traits he has come to admire, including focus and discipline, attention to detail, and meticulous planning. Though the pandemic has affected many plans, the representative remains optimistic and looks forward to deepening bilateral relations in the future.