SAN FRANCISCO, 25 February 2019 -Partnership with the Filipino American community is key to achieving the goals of nation-building beyond borders as emphasized by the Consul General in hisIkatlong Ulat sa Pamayanan (Third Report to the Community) on 22 February 2019.
In his remarks, Consul General to San Francisco Henry S. Bensurto, Jr., said that the year 2018 was a momentous year for both the Consulate and the Community as they have achieved much together in the spirit of partnership and cooperation. He underscored that the community, plays a shared and pivotal role in the goal of nation-building given that the Filipino diaspora is deeply embedded in the national consciousness and plays a significant role in Philippine development.
“Conscious of the vast potential of our diaspora, we at the Consulate anchor all our undertakings in the Spark*Connect*Empower movement,” added Consul General Bensurto.
The Consul General acknowledged members of the Filipino Community in attendance, including 10-year-old Filipino American swimming champion Clark Kent Apuada, who beat a swimming record of Olympic swimming champion Michael Phelps.
The Consulate General also presented videos that summarized the successes, innovations and updates of the Consulate and the broader Filipino American community in 2018.
The program began with the presentation of the new officers of the Consulate, namely, Consuls Jed Martin A. Llona,Vanessa G. Bago-Llona, and Dominic Xavier M. Imperial, and Tourism Representative Marie Soleil Tropicales.
The Consulate also launched the Philippine Center’s wi-fi, which is a product of the partnership of the Consulate with the Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT) under the Spark*Connect*Empower (SCE) Movement. The Consulate presented to the community the Very Important Pinoy (VIP) or Ambassador’s Tour and Filgrimage TV commercial produced by The Filipino Channel-ABS-CBN Foundation International in collaboration with the Consulate General and The Filipino School led by Mr. Tony Olaes.
The Report to the Community highlighted the launch of the Spark*Connect*Empower (SCE) movement in 2018, which was graced by His Excellency Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez.Through the signing of partnership agreements with 58 partners composed of various organizations, agencies, companies, and individuals both from the United States and in the Philippines, the Consulate has developed a network of partners who will implement the SCE movement.
The Consul General also underscored the Consulate’s thrust to elevate the Philippines’ profile, including through his and his wife, Ms. Ann Mariza S. Sanchez’s representations as Dean of the San Francisco Consular Corps, an organization comprising 78 Consulates, representing one of the largest diplomatic communities in the U.S., and the League of San Francisco Consular Corps. The LSFCC is a non-profit, apolitical, non-partisan organization founded in 1989 composed of spouses and partners of members of the San Francisco Consular Corps, as well as retired diplomats.
In 2018, the Consulate organized a number of events and engaged with government, non-governmental organizations, the academe, and Filipino community organizations, to advance Philippine national interests in political, economic, socio-cultural, consular and people-to-people spheres.
The Consulate continued its trade, investment, and tourism promotion activities in cooperation with the Department of Trade and Industry, headed by Commissioner Celynne Layug, and the Department of Tourism, now headed by Director Tropicales, under the One Country Team Approach.
A number of initiatives under the ambit of the SCE Movement and which aim to promote economic opportunities for the Philippines, such as the launch of the Spark 447, were also highlighted in the report. Spark 447 is envisioned to be a shared working space at the Philippine Center on Sutter Street in San Francisco, which can be a hub for start-ups to develop their platforms and interact with one another. The website, spark447.com, is now live.
Streamlining consular application processes was one of the Consulate’s milestones in 2018. The Consulate continues to upgrade its facilities, including the set-up of an electronic ticketing kiosk, which uses infrared printing, and provides consular information at the Philippine Center and the use of an electronic appointment system for dual citizenship applicants and oath-taking of qualified applicants.
The Consulate conducted 14 consular outreach missions and delivered 4,789 services to multiple cities and states in 2018.
Bearing in mind that San Francisco is known as the cultural, financial and commercial capital of Northern California and given the unique characteristics of the Bay Area and other states under its jurisdiction, the Consulate implemented programs and activities in line with promotion of Filipino culture and heritage.
With the SCE as framework, the Consulate, in cooperation with the Filipino American community, the Consular Corps and US and Philippine government and non-government institutions, implemented and participated in 170 events in 2018, including Independence Day activities, other cultural activities, training on Philippine culture, lecture and seminars, exhibits, etc.
On 9 June, the Consulate presented a Concert and Gala Reception in commemoration of the 120th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence. The concert and gala reception were held on the same day at the Marines Memorial Theater and the Philippine Center. The program featured a rigodon de honor, a traditional dance performance, and honored members of the Community who, through their work, have lifted the profile of the Filipino-American Community. Dr. Raul Sunico headlined the concert with his repertoire of Rachmaninoff, Chopin and Debussy, as well as sentimental favorites by Filipino composers George Canseco and Felipe de Leon. The San Francisco Boys Chorus, dubbed by many as “the voice of San Francisco,” also rendered a few songs. Conductor Ian Robertson led the Chorus composed of 14 boys, including the Consul General’s son, Henry Matthew.
The Consulate kicked off the Independence Day outdoor concert with the battlecry of “Pinoyako, proud ako!” to inspire the FilAm Community to be proud of their roots and heritage. The concert was headlined by Jaya and Jay-R, who both grew up in the West Coast and understood the Consulate’s desire to spark, connect and empower the Filipino diaspora.
Aside from the Independence Day celebrations and the Filipino-American History Month, among other yearly activities with the Community, the Consul General also highlighted the Consulate-led Christmas celebrations, such as the Paskuhan sa Konsulado and Christmas party with Filipino American senior citizens.
“Our aspiration is to bolster an empowered community that elevates the profile and influence of the Filipino and Filipino-American community in the U.S.; a Filipino American community that, in turn, empowers Kababayans back home,” the Consul General said.
The Consul General’s Ulat sa Pamayanan is an annual tradition of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco to welcome the new year in the company of the Filipino American Community in the Bay Area and present to the Community a glimpse of the past year
Highlights of the Report to the Community could be read in https://sparkconnectempower.com/news-events/remarks-of-consul-general-henry-s-bensurto-jr-ikatlongulatsapamayanan/