On Tuesday, June 11, the Embassy of the Philippines in Israel celebrated its Independence Day. Dignitaries, community members and those with ties to the Philippines joined the celebration held at the Sheraton Hotel in Tel Aviv, overlooking the sea.
H.E. Ambassador Neal Imperial opened his remarks by expressing condolences upon the passing of Nehama Rivlin, the wife of the president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin. The ambassador said “Nakikiramay po kami”, explaining that the phrase meant “we grieve with you and we will keep her in our prayers.”
The ambassador mentioned that in his fifth year as ambassador, he was able to appreciate some of the long-term projects and initiatives were undertaken between the two nations, as well as benefit from more meaningful relationships with Israeli peers.
Ambassador Imperial cited the historic visit by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte last year, the first by a sitting president of the Philippines, as a sign of the unprecedented ties between the two countries. He added that the visit bore fruit with the signing of 21 private sector agreements and three bilateral agreements. In particular, the ambassador mentioned the bilateral labor agreement for caretakers, which took almost a decade to negotiate but is expected to save tens of millions of dollars annually for caretakers and provide protection from unscrupulous recruitment agencies.
Ambassador Imperial continued by noting the security cooperation, Mashav’s Agrostudies program which trains hundreds of students from the Philippines annually in advanced agricultural techniques, and the bustling tourism, including a 33% increase in visits from the Philippines to Israel.
The ambassador concluded his remarks with a toast to the good health and success of the President and Prime Minister of Israel, and to growing ties between Israel and the Philippines.
Religious Affairs Minister Yitzchak Vaknin spoke on behalf of the government of Israel. The minister began by noting the efforts of the President of the Philippines in 1947, Manuel L. Quezon, to save Jews from the Holocaust by providing refuge in the Philippines, as well as the fact that the Philippines was the first country in Asia to support UN Resolution 181 leading to the creation of Israel.
The minister also mentioned President Duterte’s visit to Israel, and the increased bilateral cooperation that it stimulated, including in agricultural training, energy, and economic development. Closer to home, the minister referenced the tens of thousands of Filipino workers caring for Israelis, including many Holocaust survivors, with compassion and dignity.
The minister concluded by reiterating congratulations on behalf of the people and government of Israel for the Independence day of the Philippines and offered blessings for peace, stability, growing prosperity and success, and flourishing friendship between the two countries.
The guests enjoyed a lavish dinner prepared by the Sheraton chefs, including special dishes from the Philippines, like chicken Adobo and Turon (fried banana roll). Photos and videos taken by Israeli photographers showcased the spectacular and diverse sights of the Philippines, and floral arrangements added to the celebratory theme. On their way out each guest received a gift bag of items from the Philippines.
Among the many distinguished guests of the evening were Minister Yitzchak Vaknin; Knesset member Osnat Mark; Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Menashe Bar-On, former Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines; Honorary Consuls Shimon Weinbaum and Carmel Hacohen; the president of the Ambassador’s Club, Ambassador Yitzhak Eldan; Moran Mano Executive Manager & Moshe Dubi Ganor Senior Superintendent of Mano Maritime LTD; Sheraton general manager Franco Vella; Boaz Waksman, chairman of Ophir Tours Ltd; Ariela Schmida-Doron from the Jerusalem Gold hotel, and artist Sari Arieli;
The staff of http://www.diplomacy.co.il/ congratulates the government, people, and embassy of the Philippines on the occasion of the 121st anniversary of its independence.
Photos Silvia G. Golan ( more pics at https://www.facebook.com/diplomacy.israel