US Philippines Society

  Raising Awareness of Today's Philippines in the US

US_PH flag

The 2020 first quarter began with a strong and promising start. However, the Society's leadership recognized the need to adjust operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In accordance with public health guidelines, we suspended public programs and in-person meetings. 

The Society maintains outreach to members in virtual settings and online readership with a series of "interview-style" postings from "experts" on a range of issues that began in March by highlighting the role of Filipino women in observance of Women's Month. Other topics in the series included observations on the 75th Anniversary of World War II and the Philippine government's initiatives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Year, New Decade, New Challenges

Directors of the US-Philippines Society concluded a timely and productive three-day board program in the Philippines on February 19. Centerpiece of the Society's program was a 2020 Business, Investment, Political Trends, and Global Risks forum. Key topics ranged from "U.S., China, and Regional Power Dynamics" to an "Election Year Political Outlook from Washington." The new year introduced new challenges, from responding to the Taal Volcano to the spread of the Coronavirus, and the need to maintain a strong and workable U.S.-Philippines relationship despite the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA).  

Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin reviewed the VFA termination decision and underlined the continuing importance of alliance relations. Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd joined by video presentation with an analytical assessment and policy recommendations including strategic alliances in the region. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Thomas Hubbard provided a first-hand perspective on the VFA, a bilateral agreement designed to facilitate U.S.-Philippines cooperation in military exercises, joint training, ship visits, force modernization, humanitarian assistance and confronting the full range of security threats.

On its eighth anniversary this year, the Society held meetings in Manila  at a critically important juncture to reinforce enduring bilateral ties. The Society's presence underscored that commitment in tangible terms. The Society appreciated the hospitality of Philippines-based membership, led by Manuel V. Pangilinan, and ambassadors Jose Manuel G. Romualdez and Sung Y. Kim. 

group photo
US-Philippines Society Board of Directors with Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin (center, first row), Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and panelist Renato Cruz de Castro, Peninsula Manila Hotel, February 18.

2020 Carlos P. Romulo Award

At a February 16 welcome reception in Manila hosted by Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, the Society acknowledged the leadership of Co-chair Manuel V. Pangilinan who was honored together with Director Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala for work in mobilizing private sector recovery assistance to victims of natural disasters through the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (PDRF), a strong and continuing partner of the US-Philippines Society. Representing PDRF were President Rene Meily and Trustee Doris Magsaysay-Ho.

The Society also honored US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim with a 2020 Carlos P. Romulo award for his role and leadership to strengthen bonds between our two peoples, a core mission of the US-Philippines Society.

PDRF Trustee Doris Magsaysay-Ho, PDRF President Rene Meily, Co-chair Amb John Negroponte and reception host Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez, February 16, Manila.
Amb John D. Negroponte and 2020 Carlos P Romulo Awardee Amb Sung Y. Kim, February 16, Manila. 

On February 19,  following the Business Program in Manila, a US-Philippines Society delegation toured Metro-Clark, a former U.S. Military Base transformed into a modern hub for business, trade, tourism and leisure. The  Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA), in partnership with the private sector continues to l ead Clark's impressive development. US-PH Society Founding Director and retired U.S. Navy Captain Dennis Wright was among the first  development participants in opening a 177-hectare business park, Global Gateway Logistics City, located at the former Clark Air Base.  
BCDA Clark 2020
BCDA President and CEO Vivencio Dizon (right) briefs the delegation led by Ambassador John F. Maisto
Clark Freeport Zone Locators

Strategically located about 50 miles north of Manila and gateway to the Asia-Pacific region, Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) is home to American companies including UPS and Texas Instruments. CFZ is managed by Clark Development Corporation, a subsidiary of BCDA.

In 2019, the United States topped the list of the countries of destination with export value totaling $2.05 billion. CFZ Locators's exports to the U.S. accounted for more than one-fourth of total exports to the U.S. 
Clark Freeport Zone
Industrial setting in Philexcel Business Park
Philexcel Business Park

Established in 1993 by Jack Nasser, Philexcel is a 112-acre mixed-use development that was among the first investments after the military base closed. Offering property solutions to over 236 tenants, including BPO's, ICT, industrial and retail enterprises, it expanded to become one of the largest complexes in CFZ. Incentives in CFZ include low c orporate income tax, t ax and duty free import and export, a c ustoms zone and s pecial employment visa for expats and  One Stop Shop for Business Permits. 
Clark Freeport
Philexcel Art Center

In 2016,  Philexcel Business Park President Ariella Nasser-Moskovitz inaugurated the Philexcel Art Center featuring the Jack Nasser Gallery of Mabini paintings that capture traditional Filipino culture. The Center also has an art space for all ages offering free classes for the local school children and charitable causes. 

Photo: Executive Director Hank Hendrickson and President Amb John F. Maisto with a painting from the Jack R. Nasser Collection, in Clark Freeport Zone, February 19, 2020. 
Members of US-PH Society delegation at the PDRF Emergency Command Center in Clark
Clark's Emergency Operations Center

The Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation established its Emergency Operations Center in Clark as a 24/7 self-sufficient operations hub geared towards training for disaster preparedness and the coordination of relief and response efforts during major disasters. Using advanced communications software and technology, the hub monitors climate-related and natural hazards in close coordination with deployed resources in the field. The information platform allows companies to plan relief and rehabilitation efforts that complement business continuity programs.
Clark Veterans Cemetery
Clark Veterans Cemetery

Between 1994 and 2013, members of the VFW Post 2485 operated and maintained the Clark Veterans Cemetery.  US-PH Society Director Dennis Wright led a successful initiative to restore the cemetery under the management of  the American Battle Monuments Commission in December 2013.  Every year, on the Memorial Day weekend, ceremonies are held to honor those who died serving overseas.
US-Philippines Society delegation visits PDRF's Emergency Operations Center, February 19, 2020.

PDRF's  Chief Resilience Officer Guillermo Luz (center) with US-PH Society Director Dennis Wright (right)


On February 6,  World Faiths Development Dialogue (WFDD) in partnership with International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development and co-organized with the US-Philippines Society,  launched the report "Faith and Development in Focus: Philippines." Principal author Cameron Pulley discussed the research methodology and initial findings of the one-year study that began in January 2019 with Washington-based consultations. Pulley undertook an extensive literature review followed by field work in the Philippines employing landscape mapping, structured data collection, formal  and unstructured interviews with tribal leaders, politicians, public officials and civil society organizers.

The Philippine focus highlighted opportunities to bridge the sometimes fragmented nature of engagement on national and local development among key government, religious and secular sectors. The study noted that the  Philippines is a deeply religious country where faith permeates social, economic, and political institutions, and can play a role in development. The WFDD initiative aims to improve awareness of the intersection of religion and development, and inspire collaboration among secular and religious organizations to achieve development goals.
Georgetown University
Georgetown University Professor Erwin Tiongson, Consul General Jose Victor Gonzaga, WFDD Executive Director Katherine Marshall, Research Consultant Cameron Pulley and Executive Director Hank Hendrickson, February 6, 2020, Georgetown University Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs, Washington D.C.

Safe Haven UN
Panelists Dr. Bonnie Harris, Film Director Noel Izon, Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin and Executive Director Hank Hendrickson at the UN Headquarters
WWII Philippine Rescue Program

On January 27, in observance of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day, UN officials and members of the New York community gained insight into President Manuel L Quezon's initiative to provide asylum to Jewish refugees facing Nazi persecution on the eve of World War II, saving around 1,300 people from the holocaust.  

Executive Director Hank Hendrickson in Williamsburg, VA
Great Decisions Series: US-PH Ties

In March, the Foreign Policy Association's 2020 Great Decision Series offered a platform for community engagement to learn more about the Philippines-U.S. relationship. During presentations in Arlington and Williamsburg, Virginia, Executive Director Hank Hendrickson provided a historical perspective citing key events in the relationship and an assessment of the challenges and opportunities for continued bilateral engagement.
Philippine Roundtable with Ambassador Romualdez 

The March 9 Philippine Roundtable with the Stimson Center's Southeast Asia program featured Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, who provided an update on recent developments. The discussion covered government measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, repatriation of overseas workers including cruise ship crew members, factors leading to the termination of the VFA and prospects for new arrangements. The forum drew a Washington audience representing policy think tanks, government officials, press, academe and Society members. The forum, moderated by Professor William M. Wise, represented the Society's continuing collaboration with the Stimson Center. Southeast Asia Director Brian Eyler provided welcome remarks, and Hank Hendrickson made closing observations.
Stimson Center
Featured speaker Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and Philippine Roundtable founder and moderator Professor William M. Wise, Stimson Center, March 9, 2020

Stimson Center
Executive Director Hank Hendrickson, Amb Jose Manuel Romualdez, Prof William Wise and US-PH Society founding Director Amb Thomas Hubbard