IN this globalized world, international relations have been the driver for economic growth and development, especially in recent years. With free-flowing exchange of goods, services, talent, culture, and education, people become more socially aware and competent to contribute to a higher purpose of serving and improving the lives of a country.
Having long witnessed the importance of foreign relations in the development of nations, Italian Ambassador to the Philippines Massimo Roscigno said his service to government is all he has ever wanted to do. As a young boy, he decided he would pursue a career in Foreign Service because of his father who served as a diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Italy.
The ambassador shared his own experience in an interview with The Manila Times, growing up with his traveling family to see the world. Even as a young boy, Roscigno had always enjoyed experiencing new cultures and meeting people of different races, and thus placed appreciated the importance of people-to-people exchanges.
“I wanted to do something good for peace and for friendship of people,” he explained.
Born in Rome, Roscigno graduated from the University of Trieste in 1977 with a degree in Law, and thereafter completed his PhD in European Studies at the University of Rome La Sapienza in 1979. Though armed with the perfect doctorate degree for his line of work, he told The Manila Times that European Studies were very much different during his time.
“I finished my post graduate degree when the European Union was not in existence yet,” he said. “But Europe, nonetheless, was starting to come together at the time with European Conferences being held.”
Through his years in the service, he was witness to the formation of the European Union, which made way for peace within the continent. Joining the diplomatic service in 1981, Roscigno spent his first four years in Italy, beginning his lifelong career in the Foreign Service.
Before his first assignment abroad, he was appointed director general for Emigration and Social Affairs, and thereafter served at the Office of the Secretary General.
On to the world
Carrying out his chosen career in foreign relations, he took on his initial international posting in New York as first vice consul from 1984 to 1988. Easily adaptable to other cultures, he was immediately sent to Asia where he served as counsellor and deputy head of Mission at the Embassy of Italy in the Philippines from 1988 to 1992.
Recalling his first time in Manila, Roscigno found the Philippines very interesting with its “Latin influence and Oriental nature.” He also had a fascination with the Philippines’ political landscape back then, for he arrived just two years after the successful Edsa Revolution in 1986.
“Coming here in 1988 was my first time in Asia,” Roscigno related. “Those years were very exciting and I loved it. There were still remnants of instability, yet so much excitement among Filipinos who reclaimed democracy. There was lot of energy even if it was still a difficult time for your country.”
It was also a very exciting time for the diplomat on a personal note as it was during his tenure in Manila that he met his wife-to-be in a Filipina businesswoman named Agnes.
Though Roscigno returned to Italy in 1992, the couple spent years of long distance courtship and married in Rome in 1995. They have since been blessed with their only child, Ursula.
While in Italy, he worked at the Crisis Unit of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs before he was tasked as Assignments Desk Director with the Directorate General of Human Resources from 1993 to 1995.
The next several years saw Roscigno travelling back and forth to Italy in different capacities, namely deputy head of Mission in Beirut (1995 to 1999); before as consul general in Los Angeles (1999 to 2003); deputy director of the Diplomatic Institute in Italy (2003 to 2006); consul general in Shanghai in (2006 to 2010); deputy central director for Asia Pacific, in the Globalization and International Relations (2010 to 2011); and deputy chief of Protocol of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (2012 to 2013).
In February 2013, Roscigno and his family had a happy homecoming in the Philippines where he was appointed to the top post of the Italian Embassy as ambassador.
He was all the more excited for his wife saying, “I brought her back home!”
More than ever, he found the diversity of cultures existing within these islands highly interesting.
“The Philippines is a country that has been enriched by different sources—that which sets it apart among other countries. The Spanish influence brought in both Latin and European influences in the Filipino culture, and all these, mixed with the basic Asian DNA, make for a very interesting mix. Personally, I think all these influences have given you your character, creativity, energy.”
With two more years in the country, Roscigno hopes to fulfill his duties as ambassador, while focusing on people-to-people relations, continued cultural exchange, and representing his country the best way he can.
As the Filipino community continues to flourish in Italy with a population of over 180,000, Roscigno would like to see more Italian investors in the Philippines—especially in providing machineries different niche industries.
Besides business, the Italian ambassador hopes to strengthen the longstanding friendship between the Philippines and his country, through his work in the Foreign Service.
“Our general duty and function is to promote relations in all fields—political, trade, and importantly, cultural. We also hope to see more students going to Italy because I have always believed that culture is a very important means in building bridges.” he concluded.