US Philippines Society

  Raising Awareness of Today's Philippines in the US
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The US-Philippines Society has pivoted to virtual formats in line with guidance aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus and to protect the general public by offering a "Weekly Online Series" and other virtual programs with an underlying theme of sustaining the long-standing US-Philippines relationship and showcasing the unique facets of the Philippines for American audiences. 

We also highlighted various COVID-19 responses through fundraising programs and informational bulletins. At the same time, previously live non-virtual scheduled programs, including a visit to the U.S. by a Philippine Supreme Court delegation, a Ballet Philippines performance, continuation of the Great Decisions Series on the Philippines, and a Business Mission in the U.S., have been postponed until COVID travel restrictions are lifted and the safety of attendees can be reasonably assured. 

Your Support Has Helped Frontliners

US-Philippines Society directors and members, both in the Philippines and the U.S., have made significant contributions to the COVID-19 response. Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan and Founding Director Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala have worked through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF) to coordinate private sector assistance, and they have channeled support for the COVID-19 response directly through business operations. Founding Director Henry B. Howard and Dennis Wright, together with Filipino-American Society directors Roberto Llames, Lucie Du, and George SyCip, and many others, have stepped up to lend their skills and resources to the response.

The Armor Disaster Response Task Group of the Philippine Army received donations with support from Director Henry B. Howard and PDRF. Thermal Scanners and respiratory masks were distributed to the medical and essential frontliners deployed in Capas, Tarlac providing assistance during the Community Quarantine, April 17, 2020. Photo credit: The Armor Division.
Committed to a community-wide approach based on scientific evidence, the US-Philippines Society provided financial assistance through donations to the Appeal for Solidarity to Combat COVID-19 in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce Foundation in the Philippines. We thank the support of donors  including the Philippine International Aid, Planate Management Group, Global Share Resource Foundation and several Society members including Ambassador John and Nini Maisto, John Forbes, Greg and Lucy Rushford, Veronica and Pepi Nieva, Michael Anderson, Katherine Haffke and many others 

As of June 30, thousands of personal protective equipment (PPE's) were distributed to hospitals and medical institutions including the Lung Center of the Philippines, PNP Crime Lab, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Genome Center, Makati Medical Center, Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital, Ospital Ning Angeles, Batangas Medical Center Calamba Medical Center, De Lasalle Medical and Health Sciences Institute and the UP National Institute of Health. 

Medical Chief Monserrat Chichioco MD, of Lingad Memorial Hospital in Pampanga expressed gratitude to American donors noting that the supplies will go a long way to protecting medical workers and patients. Through video messages, representatives of hospitals conveyed their appreciation for the timely assistance. Ongoing needs assessment and evaluation identified eleven additional beneficiary hospitals experiencing critical levels of testing kits and personal protective equipment as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the Philippines.

Appeal for Solidarity
Philippine Genome Center, a genomics-based research unit of the University of the Philippines System receives surgical gloves, face masks and shields, coveralls, and gallons of alcohol on June 15, 2020.


On May 26,  Judge Jerlie Requerme, the first Filipino to be selected for the McCain Institute's New Generation of Leaders ten-month 2019-2020 training program, defended her graduation proposal on "Securing Justice Thru Technology (Secure Justice)." The virtual presentation was before a panel headed by McCain Executive Director and former Congressman, Ambassador and USAID Director Mark Green, McCain staff, the Provost and professors from Arizona State University, and former Washington DC based federal judiciary justices.  Ambassador John F. Maisto participated as US-Philippines Society President and Senior Arizona State University Consultant for International Development.  

Judge Requer
m e (left photo), presiding judge in Sumilao, Bukidnon, elaborated on all aspects of the need for automation of the court system, digitalization of court records, and utilization of remote technology tools, all aimed at strengthened transparency and efficiency and increased access to justice.  She described a bureaucratic, slow judicial system that new COVID-19 realities will exacerbate and laid out how using remote technology is a proactive strategy to address it. She outlined her advocacy with the Supreme Court of the Philippines, noting that her project enjoys the support of the Chief Justice and with leaders in the Integrated Bar Association.  She fielded questions about getting even more civic and local/national political support and budget realities.  She also linked the justice system's challenges to addressing long-standing problems in Mindanao.  She hopes for continued support from the US government and civil society.  Mrs. Cindy McCain participated in the virtual graduation ceremony for the cohort of seven on May 28.

During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May, US-Philippines Society co-sponsored an inaugural online series "Istorya DC" a tribute to generations of Filipino families in Washington DC. The event was co-organized with Philippines on the Potomac Project Washington DC, Rita M Cacas Foundation and Sentro Rizal Washington D.C.

A Philippine War Hero

On May 28. Istorya DC featured the Lim family as told by Ricardo Lim, former dean of the Asian Institute of Management in Manila. A collection of personal correspondence and photographs was presented by Ricardo Lim as he traced his family's ancestry to his Filipino grandfather, Brigadier General Vicente P. Lim. He had excelled in mathematics and gained support to attend and graduate at the U.S. Military Academy West Point (Class of 1914). Under the National Defense Act of 1920, General Lim returned to the U.S. for advanced military education in 1926 and later attended Army War College in Washington DC in 1928-1929. His advanced courses and training proved valuable during WWII Battle of Bataan. As the Commanding General of the 41st Infantry Division, Philippine Army (USAFFE), the General held back overwhelming enemy forces. He was captured and later died a Filipino hero.

General Lim's wife, Pilar Hidalgo-Lim joined him in Washington DC for about two years before returning to the Philippines where she was an active supporter of women's suffrage movement. When WWII started, she and her children returned to the U.S. and later resided in the Chalfont Apartments in DC.

Second-generation Luis H. Lim, an engineer for Northrop, met and married Estefania Aldaba in Washington DC. She had completed her doctorate studies in clinical psychology at the University of Michigan and was assigned in Bethesda near Washington DC in 1943. After the war ended, the couple returned to the Philippines and established successful professional careers in business and social work. Their letters revealed how Washington DC had held a special meaning to the couple and the family. Luis Lim died in a plane crush in 1962. Earlier, Dr. Estefania Lim had established the Institute of Human Relations and in 1971 became the first female member of the Philippine Cabinet as Secretary of Social Services and Development. In 1979, she became the first woman to become Special Ambassador to the United Nations in New York.

Online Istorya DC
Left: General Vicente and Pilar Lim with children. Right: General Vicente Lim (top left in uniform) with President Manuel L. Quezon (center) and then Field Marshal Douglas MacArthur (front center) during the 5th anniversary of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, 1940, in Manila. 
"I Served Four Presidents"

Melinda Dart, grandaughter of Irineo Esperancilla related a unique and remarkable life of a Filipino sailor at the June 25 live Online Istorya DC "Eyewitness to History: The Life of Irineo Esperancilla, U.S.N." Esperancilla served as Personal Steward to four U.S. Presidents - Hoover, Truman, Roosevelt and Eisenhower from 1930-1955 in the White House, camp retreats and presidential yachts. Resourceful and skilled in planning and preparing for state functions, Esperancilla was recognized for his legendary service, tact and courtesy that "contributed in ease and success of all the functions involved," stated in an official Navy letter. 

Esperancilla, 19 years old, enlisted in mid-1920's under an executive order allowing the Navy to enlist 500 Filipinos as part of the insular force. Secretary of the Navy John D. Long signed General Order No. 40, 8 April 1901, promulgating the executive order.

Online Istorya DC
Left: President Harry S. Truman (standing in the center) joins the Filipino Navy sailors including Irineo Esperancilla (second row center) at the White House after a successful state event. Esperancilla's grandaughter, Melinda Dart, narrates his grandfather's remarkable life.  In his book, Commander William Rigdon, Assistant Naval Aide in the White House wrote about Esperancilla's fine qualities.
A Tribute to Frontline Workers in Action

The US-Philippines Society acknowledged the special commemorative event on June 12, 2020 the 122nd anniversary of the Philippine Independence Day hosted by the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC along with all Foreign Service Posts throughout the United States. Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell  reaffirmed the two countries' enduring friendship and continued high level and broad engagement as partners and allies amid the global health crisis. 

The pandemic highlighted the importance and necessity for collaboration noting the heroic service of Filipino American medical professionals in the frontline. In a statement, US-Philippines Society Co-chairs Ambassador John D. Negroponte and Manuel V. Pangilinan thanked Ambassador Jose M. Romualdez and his team for a timely video tribute to members of the Filipino community across the country and beyond for their tireless work and personal sacrifice in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic.  Read more
Assistant Secretary of State David Stilwell

Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez 

Filipino American Frontline Healthcare Workers

An Aspect of the VFA: Operation Damayan in Guiuan, Philippines, Nov 17, 2013, was rapidly deployed during a humanitarian crisis in assistance to the Philippine government
A Review of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA)

"The VFA is now 20 years old, and it may be time for a review. Drawing on our experience with the VFA, and based on mutual respect, we ought to be able to make improvements that will enhance effectiveness and public support," states USPHS Founding Director and former Ambassador to the Philippines Thomas C. Hubbard. In 1998-1999, he worked with the Philippine government in shaping the VFA. He also has had personal experience in reviewing similar agreements involving Japan and Korea. 

Act of Proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898, National Library of the Philippines.
Revisiting the June 12 1898 Declaration of Philippine Independence

Philippine Historian Dr. Frank Jenista reflects on events leading to Philippine independence in 1898. At the height of the Age of Imperialism, the Philippines was an attractive target by major powers. Filipino revolutionaries led by Aguinaldo had sought U.S. intervention against Spanish rule.  U.S. Navy Admiral Dewey supported the Filipino movement for self-government and facilitated the return of Filipinos in exile.


Featured speaker Felice Prudente Sta. Maria, author of "The Foods of Jose Rizal" headlined a June 19 lively discussion about the food and meals during the turn of the 20th century. Sta Maria noted a special Filipino menu that reflected a fusion of Spanish and French cooking yet still authentic Filipino. "Menudo Sulipena" (oxtail with ham) and Bass stuffed with shrimp served with Hollandaise sauce were served at special gatherings. The staple dishes in the Filipino kitchen were adobo, lechon, lumpia, kare-kare and paella. Rizal's era was a time of limited means and resources but with strong sense of patriotism. The Philippine Revolution against Spanish colonial rule had grown. Rizal authored two famous literaries written in Spanish, "Noli Me T├íngere" (Touch Me Not) and "El Filibusterismo" (The Subversive) describing specifically the ills of society under the Spanish friars. 

Rizal traveled in Europe as a student and on exile in Asia transiting once through the United States.   Sta Maria described how Rizal was living on very limited budget and suffered from lack of nourishment. He  appreciated and longed for traditional home-cooked Filipino dishes like pansit (noodles) and almondigas (meatballs). At the 1889 World Exposition in Paris C entennial celebration of Bastille Day with  32 million visitors, Rizal envisioned how the Filipino identity can progress in the world stage. 

The parallelism then and today underscores how Rizal's advocacy for human dignity and freedom continues to resonate in the present times, not only in the Philippines but also in the United States. Rizal personified qualities - heroism, service to others, nobleness and excellence - that continue to inspire present-day global Filipinos.

Sta Maria indulged the audience with her interpretation of a dinner fitting for the national hero with recitations of patriotic poems and music in the background. In her mind, more than a century later, Rizal would not have died in vain.  

USPH Society member Dr. Bernardita Churchill,  History professor Xiao Chua and Chef Jam Melchor shared insights on Rizal's activism in promoting democratic ideals including food security for all.  

The event commemorating the 159th birth anniversary of Rizal was co-sponsored by Sentro Rizal Washington DC, US-Philippines Society, National Commission for Culture and Arts, Philippines on the Potomac Project and Rita M Cacas Foundation.
Felice Prudente Sta Maria presents a Rizal-inspired Menu at a Live Forum on June 19, 2020.
Weekly Issues
April - June 2020