BERN, Switzerland (MindaNews / 31 July) – Sebastian Esai Eco Eviota, the first full-blooded Filipino member of the 516-year old Pontifical Swiss Guard, successfully completed his two-month training at the Vatican this month.
The 23-year old Eviota is the second Swiss Guard of Filipino descent – but the first full-blooded Filipino – to join the elite Swiss Guard, the official armed forces of the Vatican established in 1506 during the reign of Pope Julius II and primarily tasked with the protection of the Popes and the apostolic palace and properties and the entrances to the Vatican city. They number no more than 135 men.
The 516-year old Swiss Guard is the smallest army and one of the world’s oldest military units in continuous operation. Part of their training includes crowd control, VIP protection, lethal and less than lethal weapons employment, surveillance and many tactics that the job requires
To be a Swiss guard, you must be a Swiss citizen, Catholic and unmarried, and must be 19 to 30 years old. You must also be a member of the Swiss Army after having passed basic Army training.
Eviota was heartily welcomed to the Guard in a letter dated January 17, 2022 by Christoph Graf, the commander of the Swiss Guard based at the Vatican.
But the announcement to the public was withheld by the family in deference to the passing of his grandfather, retired Regional Trial Court judge Diomedes Eviota Sr. of Surigao city, who had learned the good news before he got sick a week later and passed on.
Eviota was born in Davao City in August 1998 but moved to Switzerland in 2009 together with his elder sister Sophia on a family reunion visa. His father, Diomedes Eviota, Jr. is from Surigao City while his mother Editha Eco, who passed away in 2000, was from Esperanza, Agusan del Sur.
A second Lieutenant in the Swiss Army, Eviota served in the Infantry 13th Battalion after completing the basic two-year Army course.
Nicknamed “Baste” by his family and friends, this Swiss Guard member has been a member of the Youths for Christ (YFC) Europe group since he arrived in Switzerland. He is also a former council member of the English-speaking Roman Catholic Community of Canton Berne based at the Bruder Klaus church in Bern.
The first Swiss Guard of Filipino descent is the Swiss-Filipino Vincent Lüthi, who joined the Guards in October 2020. Lüthi’s father is a Swiss living in canton Vaud while his mother hails from Cebu.
Eviota, who turns 24 next month, resides at the quartier Bumpliz in the Swiss capital city of Bern, where he lives with his father, sister Sophia and their stepmother Maria Theresa Angob.
He completed an apprenticeship as Hotel Specialist in Bern and last worked at the supermarket chain Migros as a Customer Service Supervisor, while Sophia also works at Migros as sous-chef.
When told of the good news before leaving his post in Bern in January 2022, then Ambassador to Switzerland Denis Yap Lepatan and his wife Maria Teresa Lepatan, said it is “a great honor” to have another Filipino from Switzerland among the members of the Swiss Guard.” (MindaNews)