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PHILIPPINE – NETHERLANDS RELATIONS

EARLY CONTACTS

Relations between the people of the Netherlands and the Philippines could be traced back to the year 1600 when a Dutch war fleet entered the territory of the then Spanish colony of the Philippines Islands. Two Dutch warships, the Mauritius and the Eendracht entered the Bay of Albay on October 14 to buy provisions. Later in December, these warships fought a naval battle against Spanish warships at Manila Bay, marking the first hostile intrusion of the Dutch in the Philippines.

At that time, the Dutch people were at war against the Spaniards who were also their colonizers in Europe. For many years since 1600, Dutch warships raided Spanish outposts in the islands. It was only in middle of the 17th century, when Spain acknowledged the independence of the Netherlands, that hostilities between the two European powers ceased.

ECONOMIC RELATIONS

Although formal economic relations were not established by the Netherlands until the late 19th century, “undercover” trade was tolerated between Dutch East Indies and the Philippine Islands. In 1866, the Kingdom of the Netherlands appointed its first honorary consul in Manila, the businessman G. van Polanen Petel. At the same time, Spain was also authorized to appoint an honorary consul in Batavia, the capital of Dutch East Indies.

During the American colonial regime, Dutch business presence in the Philippines gradually grew through conduits in the Netherlands East Indies. In 1921, an honorary vice-consul was also appointed in Iloilo, then the second-largest international port in the Philippines. During the 1930s, a career consular officer was appointed in Manila. The bulk of Dutch imports from the Philippines were tobacco products, copra and Manila hemp. It was also during this colonial period that Royal Dutch/Shell, Unilever and Philips established themselves in the Philippines. After the War, KLM, the Royal Dutch Airlines, began flying to the Pacific, with stop-overs in Manila.

In the 1980s, Philippine exports to the Netherlands shifted from the traditional agricultural products to electronic items. As of 2003, more than three-fourths of Philippine exports were semi-conductors and other electronic products.

At present, among the major Dutch investors in the Philippines are Shell, Philips, Unilever, ABN-AMRO and ING Banks, Makro and Liquigaz. On the other hand, Philippine National Bank, Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation, and Equitable-PCI Bank have remittance offices in the Netherlands.

MIGRATION

The earliest reliable record of Dutch migration to the Philippines was a report in 1897 that there were three Dutch citizens in Manila, ostensibly businessmen. When the Americans took over the country, Dutch missionaries from the Society of the Divine Word (SVD) and the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (MSC) began to arrive. Since then, there has been a sizeable Dutch presence in the Philippines to warrant the appointment of a resident Ambassador in 1948.

The first recorded migration of a Filipino to the Netherlands was that of a nurse who arrived in 1947 to work in a hospital in Amsterdam. More nurses arrived during the 1970s, spreading themselves among the major hospitals and medical centers as well as nursing homes in the Netherlands. Since then, many of them have acquired Dutch citizenship. As Rotterdam developed into the largest seaport in the world, more Filipino seafarers got to know the country. It has been reported that at any given day, there are about 500 Filipino seamen docking in Dutch ports. By the turn of the century, it was estimated that about 12,000 ethnic Filipinos live in the Netherlands.