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The entrance of the Ecole Maternelle Macario Vitalis in Plestin-les-Grèves is adorned with the replica of the Filipino painter’s work, La Bretonne.

PLESTIN-LES-GRÈVES-A nursery school named after Filipino painter Macario Vitalis was inaugurated on 28 November 2019 at the scenic town of Plestin-les-Grèves which is located in Britanny in the northwestern region of France.

The inauguration was led by Plestin-les-Grèves Mayor Christian Jeffroy and was participated by officials from the Prefectural government, education department, and elected officials from the municipality, French National Assembly, Senate, and invited guests who personally knew Vitalis since he lived in Plestin for nearly 30 years since the early 1950s. Vitalis was named as an “honorary citizen” of the city of Plestin-les-Grèves in 1975 for his contributions to the city.

The Philippine Embassy in Paris was represented by First Secretary and Consul Hans Mohaimin Siriban who assisted Mayor Jeffroy and selected students cut the ceremonial ribbon of the ecole maternelle. The young students charmed the guests as they opened the inauguration with a song that said “Thank you very much” in Filipino, French, and English.

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First Secretary and Consul Hans Siriban (2nd from right) and other French officials look on as Mayor Christian Jeffroy (wearing tricolor sash) assist two students cut the ceremonial ribbon on their school. (photo courtesy of Le Télégramme/Dominique Morvan)

Mayor Joffroy expressed satisfaction for the completion of the ecole maternelle which he stressed was a fundamental institution of the republic where civics are learned. He also paid tribute to Vitalis who won the hearts of the Plestinais with his “simplicity, humility, and modesty which are good human values and qualities we should transmit to our children.” He stressed that as Vitalis was a foreigner, it was “indispensable that our children learn to respect another, regardless one’s origin, color of skin, language, and imbibe “a necessary openness to world at large.”

First Secretary Siriban said that Macario Vitalis remains as one of the “enduring symbols of Philippine-French friendship” and the honor a naming a school after him “will introduce future generations to the spirit of openness, solidarity, and friendship.”

Macario Vitalis was Filipino modern painter who lived in France who later adopted neo-impressionist and pointillist styles in his works. In 2017, the Philippine Embassy together with PHILPOST and La Poste chose two paintings of Macario Vitalis and his French contemporary Jacques Villon for the commemorative stamps celebrating the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and France.

The city of Plestin-les-Grèves also mounted an exhibit of Vitalis’s paintings titled “Vitalis, the Plestin Years 1946-1984” on 20 July 2016 which Ambassador Ma. Theresa P. Lazaro and First Secretary and Consul Christina Rola McKernan attended. END

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First Secretary Siriban presented Mayor Jeffroy and Jeanne Eliet of the Plestin-les-Grèves (2nd from right) cultural office copies of the Embassy’s book The Philippines and France Discovery, Rediscovery wherein a chapter on Vitalis was written by the Mayor and Madame Eliet. (photo courtesy of Le Télégramme/Dominique Morvan)

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A mural of Vitalis that was painted by middle-school students of Plestin adorns the entrance of the new nursery school.