27 January 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C.– “In 2020, the Philippine Embassy vows to work more closely with the Filipino and Filipino-American communities in improving our services, ensuring the welfare of our people, and enriching the ties between the Philippines and the United States”, the Philippine Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Renato Pedro Villa said as he opened the Filipino Town Hall Meeting with the Filipino Community held on 25 January 2020 at the Philippine Chancery Annex Building in Washington, D.C.
Newly appointed Consul General Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga shared updated information on consular requirements and processes to ensure clients an efficient and positive experience with the consulate. He ended his presentation with the launch of the Facebook page of the Consul General, which will allow the Filipino Community to easily engage the Consulate about their questions and concerns.
The Filipino Community was also updated on the situation brought about by the Taal volcano in the Philippines. Public Diplomacy Officer Darell Artates provided details on how prospective donors can course their assistance to the affected families.
To promote the spirit of entrepreneurship and business, Commercial Counsellor Raymond Batac discussed the important elements of the Department of Trade and Industry’s (DTI) Trabaho, Negosyo, Kabuhayan (TNK) initiative to the attendees. Mr. Batac also expounded on current business trends and opportunities offered in the Philippines.
Further to the discussions of business, Mr. Jose Roderick Manalo of Double Dragon Properties gave a presentation on the benefits of investing in the Philippines, particularly in the field of real estate. Led by Tony Tan Caktiong (Founder, Jollibee) and Edgar “Injap” J. Sia III (Founder, Mang Inasal), Double Dragon envisions being a major player in real estate and owning 1.2 million square hectares of leasable space in 2020. Mr. Manalo also enjoined the Filipino Community in investing in Hotel 101, a flagship project of the company, which aims to be the first fully Filipino-owned hotel property and open numerous branches around the Philippines.
The annual Very Important Pinoy (VIP) Tour for 2020, a collaborative project among the Philippine Foreign Services Posts in the United States and the Department of Tourism was likewise featured in the Town Hall. This year, VIP Tour participants will be able to visit famous destinations Manila, Iloilo, and Boracay within an eight (8) day tour from 19 to 26 July.
ReRooted Pilipinas, a tour package geared towards the younger generation of Filipino-American, was by Ms. Melody Agbisit and Ms. Naomi Estaris of Just Go Philippines. Their tour, on 10-20 April 2020, will take participants around the cities of Manila, Tacloban, Cebu and Dumaguete, not only to enjoy the beauty and culture of the Philippines but also engage in planting mangroves to strengthen the integrity of the islands. The tour is planned to coincide with the celebration of Earth Day’s 50thAnniversary on 22 April 2020.
Finally, the Town Hall attendees were reminded of the importance of the upcoming US Census. Ms. Krystle Canare and Ms. Justine Suegay of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) in the Capital region, as well as Ms. Mary Therese Tablante of Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) emphasized how vital it is to be represented in the Census because of its far-reaching effects on US government policies and programs in the next decade.
“Members of the Filipino community play an important role in Philippine nation-building. We will continue engaging the Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the United States to facilitate their participation and involvement as we progress as one nation,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said in a statement. ###