120 was the magic number on Tuesday evening June 5th, as the Embassy of the Philippines in Israel celebrated 120 years of national independence. Authentic cuisine from the Philippines added a special flavor to the evening, while top Filipino singers provided musical entertainment. Guests were escorted by embassy staff in traditional clothing past a colorful array of photographs of the Philippines, adding a visual connection.


After the singing of both countries’ national anthems, H.E. Ambassador Nathaniel Imperial opened his remarks with a greeting to the distinguished guests on this festive anniversary, invoking the ethos of the foreign policy of the Philippines: “friends to all and enemies to none.” Ambassador Imperial explained that in addition to its dedication to the regional ASEAN alliance, the Philippines continues to promote foreign relations with countries all over the world, paving the way for several new embassies and consulates. This includes a consulate opening in West Jerusalem under the leadership of honorary consul Mr. Shimon Weinbaum.

 

Ambassador Imperial spoke of how the courageous saving of Jews during the Holocaust, and subsequent vote for the 1947 Partition Plan, set the tone for future relations with Israel. Today that goodwill has been transformed into robust trade, labor, and tourism cooperation between the two nations. Ambassador Imperial cited recent delegations of business leaders from the Philippines and sponsorship in the annual International Mediterranean Tourism Market conference as examples of these burgeoning relationships and expressed hope that direct flights between Israel and the Philippines are on the horizon.


Ambassador Imperial described how the two countries already happen one another, with 24,000 Filipino residents working as caregivers all around Israel, and the Mashav program providing training for hundreds of agricultural students from the Philippines each year. He also mentioned a partnership with the Bialik Rogozin school in Tel Aviv to provide language, culture, and history classes for Filipino students who have been born or lived for significant periods of their lives in Israel.


Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Reuben noted that in addition to 120 years, the two nations were celebrating 60 years of diplomatic relations. He also expressed hope for continued agricultural cooperation and thanked the thousands of caretakers from the Philippines for working hard to take care of the elderly in Israel.

 

 

Ambassador Imperial and Mr. Reuben raised a toast to the well-being of both nations. Ambassador Imperial then brought out a plaque of gratitude, which he bestowed upon the Honorary Consul in Haifa, Mr. Carmel Hacohen. The text of the commendation read:


“THE GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES HEREBY AWARDS THIS COMMENDATION TO MR. CARMEL HACOHEN, IN RECOGNITION OF HIS EXEMPLARY AND HIGHLY MERITORIOUS SERVICE AS CONSUL GENERAL, AD HONOREM, OF THE PHILIPPINES, IN HAIFA AND NORTHERN ISRAEL.


IN HIS OVER 25 YEARS OF DEDICATED AND LOYAL SERVICE, HE HAS DISCHARGED HIS DUTIES WITH DISTINCTION AND HAS BROUGHT GREAT HONOR AND RESPECT TO THE PHILIPPINES AND ITS PEOPLE BY BUILDING MANY BRIDGES OF FRIENDSHIP AND COOPERATION BETWEEN FILIPINOS AND ISRAELIS.


GIVEN THIS 5TH DAY OF JUNE 2018 AND SIGNED, ALAN PETER S. CAYETANO, SECRETARY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS.”


The guests then heard live performances by Mr. Howie Danao, a finalist on the program “Israel’s Next Rising Star” and well-known pop singer Mr. Rannie Raymundo, as they enjoyed a full dinner menu including delicacies from the Philippines, like Batchoy.

 
 

The distinguished guests in attendance included Menashe Bar-On, former Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines; Dr. Eli Fischer, CEO of the Dr. Fischer Group; Mr. Boaz Waksman, chairman of Ophir Tours Ltd.; the honorary consul of Haifa; Rafael Harpaz; director of the Europe-Asia department of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Arye Granot, merger and acquisitions manager at Diesenhaus, along with numerous diplomats and other dignitaries.

Diplomacy.co.il wishes the Embassy of the Philippines and the people of the Philippines congratulations on the 120-year celebration, and hopes for many more years of success.

 
Steven Aiello
 
Photos by Silvia G Golan