Russian Ambassador to the Philippines visits NEU

By Jennar Allison C. De Lara

H.E. Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev delivering a speech (Photo Courtesy: Multimedia Office)

On March 27, 2019, Ambassador of Russia to the Philippines, H.E. Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev, visited New Era University to talk about the history and the reason behind the relationship of Russia and the Philippines.

Mr. Khovaev was given a warm welcome by Atty. Theoben Jerdan Orosa, Member of the NEU Board of Trustees; Dr. Nilo Rosas, NEU President; Atty. Serafin Cuevas Jr., NEU Vice President for External and Legal Affairs; Ms. Rowena Dela Fuente, Eagle Broadcasting Corporation (EBC) President; and Bro. James Manzanero, EBC-COO.

In his speech, the Ambassador discussed several topics, including the history of the Soviet Union, Russian relations with the Philippines, and the beauty of Crimea. He also asked the audience to forget Western stereotypes and clichés – especially those portrayed in the Hollywood movies – about the Russians for they [the West] have nothing to do with the real Russia and Russian people.

The Ambassador also talked about Russians’ top priorities, which included the development of the economy, the improvement of the social welfare system for their citizens and the promotion of peaceful co-existence between different social and religious groups.

“I’m proud to say that Christians and Muslims [have] lived together side by side in my country for many centuries, always peacefully,” Mr. Khovaev proudly stated. He further explained that Russian history did not know of any conflict based on religion and this confirms that it is possible to live a peaceful life together for people belonging in different religions.

The Former Soviet Union
The Ambassador also said that they wanted to preserve all the positive things they inherited from the former Soviet Union. “Not everything was bad in the former Soviet Union,” he said. “The biggest advantages of the former Soviet Union,” he shared “were the excellent education and public health systems.” Mr. Khovaev stated that he, himself, was a  product of the Soviet education system.

The beauty of Crimea
 “Crimea has always been a part of Russia and it should be so, forever,” the Ambassador declared, emphasizing that the Crimean Peninsula is a very special region for Russia, not only economically but first of all culturally, and spiritually. He also invited Filipinos to visit the place for it is one of the top family vacation spots in the country.

Russians and Filipinos have a lot in common
“We Russians and Filipinos, we have a lot in common, and therefore, we deserve to be your partners and close friends,” Ambassador Khovaev said.  He pointed out the “only one” difference between Russians and Filipinos: “You smile much more than we Russians do.”

History of Russia and the Philippines
“The Soviet leaders considered the Philippines as an American ally and it was only after the defeat of the Americans in Vietnam was it possible to establish the diplomatic relations,” noted the Ambassador. Despite this, he said that this was a positive thing because the history of Russia and the Philippines does not have a negative page, and that because of this we can build a future without looking back at a dark page of history. “Our countries have never had political contradictions – or any other disputes. So the legacy of our bilateral relations is quite positive,” he added. Mr. Khovaev continued by mentioning how in 1949, former Philippine President Elpidio Quirino allowed 5,000 Russian immigrants to settle down in the Philippines and find shelter.

The Ambassador says that because of this event in history, it is possible to build a bridge of friendship between the two nations. He concluded with the words, “We need to explore all opportunities. It’s time for Russians to discover the Philippines and it’s time for the Philippines to discover Russia.”