12 MAY 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Philippine Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Renato Villa participated in a virtual panel discussion on 12 May 2021 organized by the United States Air Force and SuyoMano as part of their month-long celebration of Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month.
With the overall theme, “Embracing Diversity, Breaking Barriers, Empowering Inclusions”, Mr. Bryan Ocampo of Intas Destination Management Inc. kickstarted the audience in a virtual tour of the Philippines featuring the country’s tourism destinations, food, people and culture. A discussion was then moderated by Janelle So-Perkins with DCM Villa and former US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas as her guests in an interactive exchange on “Why visit the Philippines?” Tim Navarro and Charm Hoffman co-hosted the entire event.
Ambassador Thomas lauded the contributions of Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and Filipinos to the United States in the past year, and likewise expressed his disappointment in the rising racially motivated incidents against Asian Americans in the United States. He also talked about his personal experiences during his time as Ambassador to the Philippines, noting the country’s beautiful islands, great food, and hardworking people.
In his brief opening message, DCM Renato Villa underscored the strong people-to-people ties between the Philippines and the United States, and the Filipino and Filipino-American community’s unwavering support to their home country during the pandemic.
“There are more than 10.2 million Filipinos all over the world, residing and working overseas. I believe that they are the best Ambassadors of goodwill for the Philippines, including Filipino-Americans,” said DCM Villa. DCM Villa was once an OFW prior to joining the Philippine Foreign Service.
Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez likewise shared in a message his top reasons why one should visit the Philippines. He said “Our islands are rich in natural resources, pristine and scenic locales, warm and friendly people, and a fun culture that uniquely blends the East and West. There are numerous experiences to savor and enjoy in the Philippines. Aside from relaxation and cultural curiosities, there is an also overabundance of business opportunities in various industries…I hope you will be able to experience the beauty of Philippines.”
Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo also shared a message highlighting the Filipino bayanihan spirit, and mentioned efforts to rebuild and overcome the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we work to nourish Filipino languages, arts, traditions, and history all over the world, I hope that you also keep the flame of bayanihan alive. Concretize it, expand your circles of compassion, and embody communal responsibility in your work,” VP Robredo emphasized.###