By LUIS ANTONIO P. DEJARESCO
ATHENS, Greece — Philippine Ambassador to Greece Frank “Jojo” Cimafranca played host to the members of the Bohol Sandugo USA Family Club Thursday at the Philippine Embassy here.
Also on hand to welcome the Greece-touring Boholanos was Ambassador Cimafranca’s wife Lu Calunsag from Loay town. They have a daughter 15 year-old Francesca.
In an informal chat with the Boholano ambassador, Cimafranca revealed that there are about 15,000 Filipinos in Greece. Originally there were about 50,000 Filipinos mostly OFWs who left Greece amid the 2010 financial crisis (also known as the Greek.
Depression). At the height of the economic crisis, Greece, a member of the European Union (EU), owed foreign investors $352.7 billion coming from EU member nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).Greece today has slowly picked-up from its economic crisis according to Globus tour Guide Marina whose extraordinary knowledge of historical Greece Greece made the 15-day tour more exciting.
The 22 Boholanos based in New York, New Jersey and Maryland, visited the historical and ancient Greece. The 15-day tour was under the auspices of Globus Tours.
Cimafranca whose appointment that includes the territory of Cyprus, was confirmed early this year and took effect last August. His Greece consulate office processes passport renewal and other related matters.
The Boholano ambassador was elated to meet the group whose members were his former classmates and schoolmates at Divine Word College (now Holy Name University) and former neighbors along Graham avenue
and Maria Clara streets in Tagbilaran City where he grew up. There are several Filipino community organizations in Greece.
The Classical Greece tour that included Island hopping in the marvelous islands of Mykunos and Santorini, visited the historical places like Acropolis, the rocky mountain overlooking the Capital city of Athens where one couglimpse, the temple of Olympian Zeus. The group stopped at the world famous Panathenaic stadium built in the 2nd century AD and is the only stadium in the world built entirely of marble and was the host of the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896.
The visit included the historical sites such as Ancient Corinth and the 19th century excavations of Mycenae, the Lion Gate, Europe’s oldest known monument, and the remains of Agamemnon’s Royal Palace, the remains of the Olympia gymnasium where the original olympic games took place. There was the busy seaport of Patras and the mystic Delphi, mount Pernassus sanctuary of god Apollo, and the archeological museu and excavations in Oracle.
Highlight of the 6th-day tour were the two monasteries, St. Varlaam and St. Stephens monasteries, sitting in the fantastic slopes of Meteora.
Globus guided us to Thermopylae, site of the heroic battle of Leonida’s Spartans against Xerxe’s Persian army.
A stormy weather sailed us to the deep-blue waters of the Aegian sea before docking at the mountainous island of Mykunos, an island of windmills,swaying palm and eucalyptus trees. Next island stop was dSantorini (Thera), the stunning “Black Pearl of the Aegian”, also site of the legendary lost continent of Atlantis. Hundreds of daily tourists would climb to the cliff-top village of Oia, one of the world’s breathtaking sunset panorama mostly visible at 7 pm.
Ambassador Cimafranca climbed the ladder starting as a clerk and researcher at the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1981. He passed the bar in 1989 and the Foreign Service Officers exam in 1990.
He was a Parangal-kabalikat ng Lingkod-Bayan awardee in 2010 for helping repatriate Filipinos from war-torn Syria.
He was also a TOBAW (the outstanding Boholanos around the World) awardee of the Tigum Bol-anon sa Tibuok Kalibutan (TBTK).
As a consul general in Dubai from 2012 to 2015 with about 750,000 Filipinos, Cimafranca provided travel documents, gratis, to almost 1,000 OFWs in Dubai who availed of the amnesty program of the UAE government.
He also had assignments in Sydney Australia, Malaysia, Indonesia and the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
He finished his Bachekor’s degree in economics from the University of the Philippines in Dilliman.
He comes from a big family of 11 siblings, 7 boys and 4 girls. His father, the late Assemblyman Eutiquio “Ikiong” was a labor leader and an opposition member of the Interim Bataang Pambansa until his death in 1984.