Francophone embassies celebrate cultural diversity and human rights

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Manila joins in the celebration of cultural diversity and human rights as the different francophone embassies and cultural institutions come together this March for the Month of the Francophonie.

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The celebration takes its name from the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), an area composed of 57 member states and governments that share the French language and engage in cultural, scientific, economic, and judicial cooperation. Of great importance to the OIF are the promotion of cultural diversity and the protection of human rights, values that are inherent in the French language and in the OIF as an organization.

The commitment of the OIF to cultural diversity is proven by its geographically-diverse membership, which includes countries in Asia such as Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia, and in Africa, such as Madagascar, Egypt, Tunisia and Mali. The OIF has also been active in promoting peace and engaging in conflict resolution.

Although the Philippines is not a member of this organization, the values to which the OIF stands find relevance in Filipino society.

The month-long Francophonie celebration in Manila patterns its activities on these two values, along with an appreciation for the French language.

The general public is enjoined to experience the finest in French animation through a series of film screenings at the Rizal Park Open Air Auditorium in all weekends of March. Admission is free of charge and authentic French snacks will be available for the audience.

Different public and private Filipino high schools and universities will be testing their knowledge in the French language in a national theater contest on March 8 at the European International School. At present, over 1,500 Filipino public school are learning French as part of their school curriculum.

Critically acclaimed director Lito Casaje presents his interpretation of Jean-Paul Sarte’s Huis-clos (No Exit) on March 14, 7:30 p.m. at the Rajah Sulayman Theater in Fort Santiago. The premise lies in three people condemned to spending eternity with each other in a single room in the afterlife, which ultimately leads to the play’s most memorable line, “Hell is other people.”

The Alliance française de Manille will also host the annual Printemps des Poètes, a night to appreciate and share French, English and Filipino poetry.

Finally, the Embassy of France is proud to launch a documentary video contest on the theme Les Droits de l’homme à l’ère du numérique (Human Rights in the Digital Age).

Open to 18 to 25 year olds learning the French language, the contest aims to explore the role of social media both as a catalyst in protecting freedom and rights and as a means of putting these values in danger.

The winning participant will be given a 10-day, all expenses paid trip to France in July and will join a delegation representing over 120 countries to visit French institutions and meet with officials specializing in the issue of human rights.

The Month of the Francophonie is organized by the embassies of France, Belgium, Cambodia, Canada, Laos, Switzerland, and the Consulate of Monaco.

For more information on the Month of Francophonie, visit www.ambafrance-ph.org or www.facebook.com/FrenchEmbassyManila.

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