by Emily Manuel
Contributor, Eagle News
(Eagle News) — A delegation of the Russian motorbike club “Night Wolves” is now in the Philippines to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first arrival of Russians in Tubabao island, Samar in 1949, and to spread goodwill and friendship in the country.
The group paid a courtesy call to Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Khovaev and held a press conference at the ambassador’s residence in Makati City on Tuesday, February 19, 2019.
Though founded as a motorbike club, the Night Wolves is a civil society organization that does charity work like caring for the elderly and feeding children. The Philippine chapter was founded in 2018 by Daniel Foronda, also known as “Mumbakki”, a native of the Cordillera region. Foronda has been instrumental in bringing the Night Wolves to the Philippines and bridging them with the motorbike club, “Philippine Mad Dogs.”
The group has chapters in countries outside Russia, including Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Australia, Slovakia, Belarus, Philippines, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Czech Republic, and Macedonia.
This is the second time the group went to the Philippines. The first was in 2017 to celebrate 40 years of friendship between the two countries.
According to Iurii Volkov, a member of the Moscow-based group, Night Wolves aimed to hold a hand of friendship and achieve mutual awareness because they noticed that when brothers from the Philippines come and visit, the image of Russia in their heads is completely different from what they experience.
“They came here to show people what they truly are. They also want to commemorate Tubabao because Russians never forget those who have been good to them,” he said.
What they’re doing is “people diplomacy”, adds Vladimir Simonian, another delegate from the group’s chapter in Australia.
Ambassador Khovaev acknowledged the valuable role that civil society organizations like the Night Wolves play in promoting “people-to-people contact.”
He said that Russians and Filipinos have a lot in common.
“Filipinos are deeply respected in Russia. They are well-known as hardworking, kind and law-abiding,” he said.
“It’s time for more Russians to discover the Philippines and for more Filipinos to discover Russia,” the ambassador added.