WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C., together with the Philippine Consulates General in Agana, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, and the Philippine Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York, commemorated the 122nd year of Philippine Independence through a Facebook Live event on 12 June 2020.
“We are marking this special occasion amidst a global health crisis that has taken more than 370,000 lives all over the world. COVID-19 has changed life as we know it, destroying livelihoods and economies, exposing deep-seated social inequalities, and stretching government resources to the point that it may take years before governments, businesses, and societies can attain full recovery,” Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in his remarks.
The Ambassador continued, “But while the COVID-19 pandemic has brought fear and uncertainty into our lives, it has also brought out the best in the Filipino, particularly through the frontliners and health workers all over the world who embody the courage and resilience that were once displayed by our ancestors who fought for our nation's freedom and independence.”
Ambassador Romualdez expressed appreciation to the governments of the United States and territories in the Caribbean region for their continued partnership and support for the Philippine Government’s efforts to assist Filipinos affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He also acknowledged the Filipino communities in the U.S. and Caribbean for their bayanihan spirit, and the dedicated service of personnel of the Philippine diplomatic and consular missions in the United States.
“As we navigate the ‘new normal’, we continue to look after each other with generosity and compassion. The road ahead will not be easy, but we will surely overcome every obstacle if we work together”, the Ambassador stated.
The virtual celebration featured a simultaneous flag ceremony and special greetings from U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell and Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso.
Representing the U.S. Government, Assistant Secretary David R. Stilwell, reaffirmed the enduring friendship between the two countries and continued high level and broad engagement as partners and allies amid the ongoing pandemic.
In his remarks, Assistant Secretary Stilwell stated that “US-Philippine alliance is oldest in Asia which contributed to peace and stability in last 70 years and shared prosperity. Today, our nations joined forces in the face of crisis. As we stood together during WWII to fight for liberty or the global fight against terrorism, the scourge of the global pandemic highlights the importance and necessity of our bilateral cooperation.”
Stilwell further noted ongoing communications amid the crisis when President Donald Trump called President Rodrigo Duterte on April 19, State Secretary Michael Pompeo’s virtual US-ASEAN foreign ministers’ meeting on April 22 and Deputy State Secretary Stephen Biegun’s regular coordination calls with counterparts since March.
The vision “Free and Open Indo-Pacific” remains a top U.S. priority in which nations like the Philippines prosper as sovereign and independent states in safety and security.
"The U.S. and regional partners continue to collaborate on a range of issues including strengthening the resiliency and sustainability of regional and global supply chains, advancing efforts for developing accessible and affordable vaccines, strengthening multilateral institutions in responding to the pandemic and future crisis," added Assistant Secretary Stilwell.
Included in the celebration was a video tribute to Filipino frontliners in the Philippines, the U.S., and Caribbean region.
Co-chair Ambassador John D. Negroponte and Ambassador John F. Maisto were among those present during the program and the online pre-event gathering of senior officials representing Philippine and U.S. governments and Washington’s foreign diplomatic corps. Also in attendance were U.S. Ambassador Sung Y. Kim, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Stilwell, U.S. Assistant Secretary Marie Royce, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
In a separate call to Defense Secretary Lorenzana on June 12, U.S Secretary of Defense Mark T. Esper wished his counterpart a Happy Independence Day. He reiterated support for an enduring and strong defense alliance.
The Philippine Independence Day 2020 virtual celebration may be viewed on the Embassy’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/PHinUSA.