Filmmaker Pepe Diokno and writer and author Jessica Zafra travel the world searching for Filipino connections in their new travel show “The Flip Trip.” For its pilot season, the duo explores the picturesque cities of the Czech Republic and discovers the many interesting Czech-Filipino links.
You might say in disbelief, “wait a minute, there are Czech-Filipino links?!” And the unexpected answer to that is a resounding “yes!”
Did you know that there sits a bust of our national hero Jose Rizal on the town of Litomerice’s ancient fortifications and that the spot is called “Jose Rizal Wall”? How about the fact that you can find a 500-year-old map of the Philippines in the town of Olomouc? How about that our camellias are actually named after Czech Jesuit botanist Georg Kamel?
You will not be alone in your surprise. “I was surprised to see that there are links between the Philippines and the Czech Republic,” Diokno shared. “Seeing a bust of Jose Rizal in an Eastern European country is one of the weirdest, most random, most surprising experiences,” he continued. Jose Rizal visited his dear friend Ferdinand Blumentritt in his hometown of Litomerice and had such a powerful effect on the city hence the show of love and admiration for our national hero.
When asked why the ordinary Filipino should be interested in the Czech Republic, Zafra answered, “one of the first people in Europe to be writing about the Philippines was Rizal’s friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, and also, it turns out that in the 16th or 17th century, the Jesuits from the Czech Republic sent delegations to the Philippines that mapped our archipelago and documented our plants, and so on, so they have always been strangely interested in the Philippines and I think we should give back and become interested in the Czech Republic.”
Indeed, the two countries’ historical relations make for interesting subjects for the show. “It’s very good that Jessica and Pepe’s Czech trek showed many interesting Czech-Filipino connections which most Filipinos may not know exist,” opined Czech ambassador Jaroslav Olsa, Jr., adding that the show “will offer a new view of our country because 15 years ago, Czech Republic was just connected to the veneration of the Santo Niño.” “We have more things to offer,” ambassador Jaroslav said strongly.
Sidebar: It is fun to note that the good ambassador’s nickname is “Jun” which he shared sounds “very Filipino”. It may be another Czech-Filipino link.
What exactly those things the Czech Republic can offer can all be seen on Flip Trip’s Czech trek. The sneak peek of the show during its launch last February 20 at Accelr8 in Makati City gave an exciting preview of the fairytale-like splendor of cities like Prague and Cesky Krumlov with their castles and cobblestoned streets that will surely make you feel like Belle from Beauty and the Beast (or the Beast, depending on your mood or preference). Beyond the postcard-pretty sites though are the many stories behind every monument, statue and even their famous Charles Bridge. From grisly stories of kings being thrown over windows of castles, to a saintly story of a priest being thrown over a bridge, every story is interesting and worth learning. Truly, the Czech Republic is the Land of Stories.
Flip Trip’s Czech trek definitely presents the Czech Republic in a whole new light, painting the country as not only a treasure trove of Filipino history because of the unexpected historical connections, but also as a place that Filipinos will definitely enjoy visiting because of the cultural similarities – from the love of pork and beer to the self-deprecation and humor of the people, undeniably, there are Filipino connections in the Czech Republic.
“The Flip Trip: Czech Trek” six-episode pilot series will air on CNN Philippines on April 8, 2018. Be sure to Czech it out!