US Philippines Society

  Raising Awareness of Today's Philippines in the US
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At the conclusion of his successful four-year tour as US Ambassador to the Philippines, Ambassador Sung Y. Kim was conferred by President Rodrigo Duterte the highest honor of Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Datu (Grand Cross), Gold Distinction during a farewell call on September 7 in Manila. 

Ambassador Sung Kim was sworn-in as Ambassador to the Philippines on November 3, 2016 in Washington, D.C. In attendance were Filipino-American community leaders, Asian-American supporters, Washington dignitaries, the press corps, and colleagues from the State Department. Ambassador Sung Kim advanced the extensive bilateral partnership, promoting cooperation on counterterrorism, child protection, piracy, humanitarian assistance and economic development in rural regions including in Mindanao. The Ambassador highlighted U.S.-Philippine partnerships that include USAID project initiatives, private sector and civil society collaboration that support the Philippine economy, promote peace and stability, and recently combat Covid-19 pandemic.

In a farewell statement, Ambassador Sung Kim pointed to a vibrant partnership and enduring friendship. 

"From our partnership to end the Marawi Siege, to the historic return of the Balangiga bells, to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic - time and time again I was amazed at what Americans and Filipinos could achieve together. When I depart, I will take with me many indelible memories, " he remarked.

The US-Philippines Society deeply valued the partnership with Ambassador Sung Kim and recognized him with the 2020 Carlos P. Romulo award for his role and leadership in strengthening bonds between our two peoples, a core mission of the Society.

United Nations General Assembly's 75th Session

The US-Philippines Society highlighted President Duterte's forceful presentation at this year's UNGA session. We shared Founding Director Roberto R. Romulo's assessment with the Society's readership. An excerpt:

President Duterte accomplished two important things. First, he made his peace with the United Nations. He enumerated Philippine support to issues near and dear to the United Nations - multilateralism, sustainable development, climate change, rule of law, migrant workers, refugees and peacekeeping. He thanked the UN for its role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte at the United Nations General Assembly's 75th Session, September 23, 2020. Screenshot courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office
Commemorative Programs in Washington DC  

The US-Philippines Society co-hosted commemorative programs including partnership with "Istorya DC" paying tribute to two distinguished Filipinos of an earlier era: a Philippine statesman and a literary artist. The events were co-organized with Sentro Rizal Washington D.C, Philippines on the Potomac Project Washington DC, and RMC Foundation. An online weekly series featured Society member RADM Dan McKinnon's piece about war correspondent Spencer Davis who was assigned to report on the Leyte Landing in October 20, 1944, the war's end in 1945 and post-war independence and reconstruction.

Carlos P. Romulo
Advocate for the Filipino, Philippine Independence and World Peace

At an August 17 Istorya DC virtual program, featured speaker and archivist of Carlos P. Romulo Foundation for Peace and Development Liana Romulo provided an overview of the life and times of her grandfather Carlos P. Romulo (1898-1985). She traced her grandfather's early visits to Washington DC as a student (1921), coach of a debating team for granting of Philippine independence (1928), member of the Philippine Independence Missions (1922-1933) and later as Resident Commissioner of the Philippine Commonwealth (1944-1946).

During the war (1942-1944), Carlos Romulo held speaking tours transiting mostly by train over 89,000 miles to reach 466 U.S. cities "vividly depicting wartime Philippines," stated Liana Romulo. He had embarked on "a mission to beat the drum to raise awareness and shake Americans out of complacency while soldiers languished in internment camps in the Philippines," she added.

From the Old Chancery building in Washington DC, Resident Commissioner Carlos Romulo led a public campaign about the living conditions and rehabilitation in war-torn Philippines having witnessed the month-long Battle of Manila that killed over 200,000 civilians and wrought devastation to a once glorious city. 

July 4, 1946 marked the granting of full independence of the Philippines. President Manuel Roxas was sworn-in as the first president of the Republic. The Romulo family reunited after the war and returned to Washington DC. General and Mrs. Romulo and their four sons lived in a house along the Embassy Row. 

In October 1949, General Carlos P. Romulo was elected as the fourth President of the United Nations General Assembly in New York City. He was also a member of the UN Human Rights Commission chaired by Eleanor Roosevelt. Representing the Philippine Commonwealth, General Romulo  had co-signed and co-founded the United Nations Charter in 1945. The UN Charter was established post WWII to maintain international peace and security through cooperation among member states. A towering figure at the UN, Romulo spoke for small emerging nations in Asia and Africa. 

The legacy of General Romulo, a public servant under eight presidents, is enshrined in a permanent exhibit inaugurated on January 18, 2020 at the De La Salle University. Moreover, "his spirit of nationalism is embodied in every proud Filipino," Liana contends. Ambassador Roberto Romulo, Liana's father and Founding Director of the US-Philippines Society further elaborated by citing the sense of duty and pride in performing quality care exhibited by overseas Filipinos working the frontlines during the pandemic. 

In his concluding remarks, Society President Ambassador John F. Maisto recognized General Romulo's qualities as a great Filipino. As a Georgetown University student, Maisto had heard the eloquent speaker discuss preeminent issues and a backdrop - his views of the Philippines and the U.S. He had met him again while assigned as US Embassy Manila's Political Officer to discuss cooperation and shared responsibilities among Southeast Asia nations. General Romulo offered to establish refugee processing centers in the Philippines for Indo-Chinese refugees seeking asylum.  

At the virtual event, Liana Romulo in front of an old family photo. General Carlos P. Romulo and wife, Virginia Llamas Romulo had four sons: Carlos L. Romulo, Jr., Roberto R. Romulo, Ricardo J. Romulo and Gregory V. Romulo
Literary Artist Bienvenido N. Santos
Portraits of a Filipino American

At a September 24 virtual event, journalist and writer Leonor "Noree" Briscoe offered insights into the personal and professional life including writing techniques employed by one of Philippines' most prolific and distinguished literary artists, Bienvenido N. Santos (1911-1996). They had first met in 1965, collaborated on projects including the PALM Council Short Stories Contest held in Washington DC. Noree revealed segments of manuscripts "So Many Places" that would have been Ben Santos' last novel project. 

"Scent of Apples, A Collection of Stories" (University of Washington Press, 1980) by Ben Santos was his first publication appearing in the U.S. An anthology, it captured the essence of being a Filipino American who had longed for his homeland yet drawn to the promise of attaining the American dream. Focusing on the struggles of his characters, Ben Santos masterfully writes about kindred spirits in the "Immigration Blues" and "Manila House." In October 2016, the Manila House on 24th and K Streets, Washington, D.C., was designated a literary landmark by the American Library Association (ALA) in honor of Mr. Santos. 

During the war (1942-1945) Ben Santos was assistant to Carlos P. Romulo, Secretary of Information and Public Relations under the Philippine government in exile. They held office in the Old Chancery located on 1617 Massachusetts Ave, Washington DC.

Ben Santos was Guggenheim and Rockefeller grant awardee, Faculty member of the University of Iowa Creative Writers' Workshop and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Wichita State University. He received the 1981 American Book Award, U.S. National Endowment for Humanities Award and Philippine Republic Cultural Heritage Award. 

To this day, his writings on love, loneliness and bittersweet yearning for the Philippines  inspire a generation of young writers trying to find their voice in the United States.

Image of the Book cover "Scent of Apples" and Featured Presenter Leonor Briscoe alongside her husband David Briscoe during the virtual program.

AP war correspondent Spencer Davis witnessed the Leyte Landing and post-WWII reconstruction. Society member RADM Dan McKinnon shared the story of Davis' remarkable legacy and provided a closer look at media coverage of that era. 

Spencer Davis
General Douglas MacArthur wades ashore at the Luzon landing on January 9, 1945Spencer Davis was assigned to cover the MacArthur group as he had in Leyte.
Your Support is helping Frontliners in the Visayas

The College of Medicine West Visayas State University Hospital, Iloilo City received a donation that funded PPE's, including coveralls, face masks, gloves, and face shields from U.S. private donors who responded to the Appeal for Solidarity Against COVID-19, an initiative of American Chamber Foundation Phils. Inc. with support from partners including the US-Philippines Society. 

Medical frontline workers at the West Visayas State University College of Medicine thanked U.S. donors for much needed support, September 11, 2020. Photo courtesy of AmCham Foundation Philippines.

Partnering with the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation

A separate appeal for COVID response assistance is supporting PDRF's work in Cebu City providing food assistance for affected barangays, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and tents in quarantine facilities.

By September 30, 2020, a total of 311,694 confirmed cases of COVID-19 positive individuals, with 253,488 recovered cases were reported in the Philippines. Note: positive cases are currently estimated at 390,000 with 350,000 recoveries.

The US-Philippines Society recognizes the contributions of former Peace Corps volunteer Alvin Hower and thousands of other volunteers over the past six decades in strengthening education, health systems, agriculture, small business, environmental protections, public service, and development. Their work in the Philippines, largely in rural areas, and the bonds they forged fostered unique and lasting ties between our two peoples. In this short interview, Hower shares memories of his Peace Corps experience, expresses hope that the Peace Corps will remain a vital institution in today's world, and conveys his evident and continuing attachment to the Filipino people. Read more

An avid photographer, Hower produced more than 5,000 images of everyday people and the awe-inspiring beauty of a nation of 7,641 islands
SUPPORTING FRONTLINERS: Restaurants in Washington D.C. 

At the initiative by Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, Consul General JV Chan-Gonzaga hosted a September 15 session with chefs in Washington D.C. to discuss creative ways Philippine-cuisine restaurants can adapt during the pandemic with an online presence, outdoor dining, festivals and corporate sponsorships. The US-Philippines Society supports the initiative to ensure their continued profitability, while highlighting Philippine cuisine in the national capital region.