The Philippine Embassy in Israel, in partnership with the B'nai B'rith World Center, will be holding "Safe Haven: Jewish Refugees in the Philippines", a commemorative event held in tandem with an event in New York hosted by the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York, B’nai B’rith International, and the US-Philippine Society, to mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Balai Quezo
The event, which focuses on Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon's landmark "Open Doors Policy" offering safe haven in the Philippines to Jewish people fleeing the Holocaust in Europe, will feature a panel discussion with Professor Robert Rockaway of Tel Aviv University, as well as screenings of excerpts from ABS-CBN iWANT documentary, The Last Manilaners, and Star Cinema's feature film on President Quezon's decision to accept Jewish refugees, Quezon's Game.
Mr. Max Weissler and Ms. Margot Pins Kestenbaum, the two "Manilaners" still living in Israel, will attend the event as special guests.
From 1937 to 1941, President Quezon extended visas to Jewish refugees who sought to escape the growing terror of the Holocaust in Europe. This policy, which came to be known as the "Open Doors Policy", led to the entry of close to 1,300 Jewish refugees to the Philippines, where they settled in Manila - leading them to refer to themselves, fondly, as "Manilaners". This little-known part of the shared history between Filipinos and the Jewish people was first brought to light in Frank Ephraim's book, Escape to Manila, and has since become the foundation of bilateral relations between the Philippines and the State of Israel.
Balai Quezon, the Philippine Embassy's cultural center, was inaugurated in 2019 to build awareness of President Quezon's policy and its impact on Philippine-Israel relations.
Photo Courtesy: The Library of Congress.