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The Embassy of the Philippines held the annual independence celebration on Sunday evening at the Sheraton hotel. This year’s event coincided with a visit to Israel by Minister of Trade and Industry, H.E. Mr. Lopez M. Ramon. Minister Ramon visited Israel for meetings with his Israeli counterparts, including signing a new bilateral economic agreement with Israeli Minister of Economy and Industry, Major General (Res.) Orna Barbibai. Minister Lopez signed further agreements with the Ministry of Finance to promote bilateral investments.

 Minister Barbibai noted that "The agreement on economic cooperation between the ministries is an important milestone in Israel's economic relations with the Philippines, a country of 110 million inhabitants with a warm and sympathetic attitude toward Israel. The mixed economic committee "Direct economic between the governments and thus will lead to the promotion of various issues and the solution of trade barriers. I am sure that the agreement signed today will lead to an increase in the volume of trade between the countries in the coming years and contribute to promoting Israeli exports to the Philippines and strengthening economic ties."

Although complete independence was only achieved about seventy years ago, the Independence celebration marks the initial  end of Spanish rule back on June 12, 1898, . This year’s party featured a buffet with traditional Filipino dishes, prepared specially for a kosher audience. The embassy staff and members of the Philippine community dressed in traditional clothing for the event.




Ambassador Mekirog Alberto delivered a patriotic greeting at the ceremony in which he thanked all the guests who came to celebrate his country's holiday. He noted that "the Philippines now has a new government, which will also continue the good old ties with Israel." The ambassador said that “Tonight we commemorate the Filipino heroes and their sacrifices” who made this event possible, and who “have inspired us to give our best to serve the Philippines and the Filipino people.


He also mentioned in his speech President Manuel Quezon, who during the Holocaust agreed to receive thousands of Jewish refugees in his country, while most other countries in the world closed their gates to Jews. The ambassador ended his speech with two sentences in the Hebrew language, and received applause from the audience. At the end of his speech, he invited those present to raise a glass of "Cheers!" In Hebrew.


Israeli Minister of Intelligence Elazar Stern spoke on behalf of the Israeli government. Stern noted that he has a personal history in common with the Philippine ambassador, who was also a former military man. Stern said he served in the military for 34 years, one year less than the ambassador, and that they both studied at the same U.S. military academy.


In attendance at the event were Ambassador H.E. Gil Haskel, chief of state protocol in the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Mr. Boaz Waksman, Honorary Consul of Philippines to Israel and Chairman of Ophir Tours; Ambassador Rafael Harpaz, Deputy Director General Head Asia & Pacific Division at the Israeli MFA; Yaron Meir- Director of South East Asia Department at the Israeli MFA; Maor Ben Moshe- South East Asia Department Israel MFA; Nir Bazlan- Deputy of the Israeli ambassador in the Philippines; Ephraim Fortis and Ishay Buch: President & CEO and Commercial Manager Open Sky; Ron Doron Chairman Israel -Philippines Chamber of Commerce, and Franco Vella Sheraton Israel General Manager ;Shira Kesem Maor AgroStudies Head of International Relations Dept. and more...

Diplomacy.co.il wishes the embassy and people of the Philippines “Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan” and best wishes on the national day celebration.


Steven Aiello
Photos credit: Silvia G. Golan
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