Los Angeles — Ambassador to the United States of America Jose Manuel G. Romualdez highlighted the community’s strength in numbers in his remarks during a Town Hall Meeting with the Filipino-American community held at the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles in the evening of September 15, 2019.
During the meeting, which is his first formal engagement with the Filipino-American Community in Southern California, Ambassador Romualdez laid out his vision for the estimated 4,000 Filipino-American community groups all over the U.S. to be united under one umbrella organization.
“We envision Filipinos from all over the U.S. coming together someday in a show of solidarity to highlight the strength of the Filipino diaspora right at the heart of the U.S. government’s seat of power. And Southern California, where many of the Filipino-Americans reside, will be the beginning of that nucleus powerhouse,” Ambassador Romualdez.
The meeting was also an opportunity to present to the Filipino-American Community about the programs of the Philippine Government. Video presentations on the “Build, Build, Build” program and developments in the New Clark City were shown.
Members of the Board of Directors of Clark Development Corporation, General Manuel Gaerlan (Ret.) and General Benjamin Defensor, Jr. (Ret.) were also present to respond to questions regarding Clark.
Prior to the presentations, newly-arrived representatives of the Department of Labor and Employment, Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Los Angeles, Philippine National Police and Social Security System, together with the representative of the Philippine Department of Tourism in Los Angeles were introduced to the community as part of the Philippine Foreign Service’s one-country team approach.
Also present during the Town Hall Meeting were representatives of local economic agencies in Los Angeles, which the Consulate General has been working with for economic diplomacy projects, including the Los Angeles Metro, Global Research Institute for International Trade, and Ever Win International Corp.
During the open forum, the Ambassador engaged the audience in a candid discussion regarding the government’s actions on black sand mining, medical insurance for retirees and senior citizens visiting the Philippines, access to information on construction projects for Filipino-Americans, among other things.
As Filipino-Americans present also expressed concern on the enforcement of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling on the West Philippine Sea, Ambassador Romualdez sought to present an accurate contextualization of the issue by turning to history and going to the core of the Duterte Government’s pragmatic approach towards China and the West Philippine Sea.
“The pressing issue is on finding the right way to resolve the dispute. As of this point, the Philippine government believes that the right way to go forward is to engage China,” he said.
As a memento of his visit to Southern California, the Consulate General presented the Ambassador with a portrait of him painted by Los Angeles-based Filipino artist, Rafael Maniago.
Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez joined the Filipino-American community in Walnut at the celebration of the Holy mass on 15 September 2019 in San Lorenzo Ruiz Parish, the sole parish church in California and soon to be a Diocesan shrine, dedicated to San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.
In his brief remarks to the churchgoers, the Ambassador, who is a devout Roman Catholic, asked for prayers for the millions of Filipinos working overseas for their families.
Parish Priest Fr. Tony Astudillo, who officiated the Mass, presented the Ambassador with a 12-inch sojourner statue of San Lorenzo Ruiz, who is also remembered for his martyrdom overseas, making him the patron saint of Overseas Filipino Workers.
Ambassador Romualdez also received from the City of Walnut, a resolution commemorating his first official visit to the City conferred by former youth leader and now Walnut City Mayor, Andrew Rodriguez. Also present during the conferment was Mayor Pro Tempore Rob Pacheco.
Photo shows Parish Priest Fr. Tony Astudillo introduces Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez to the mass goers.