Message: Inauguration of the Philippine Consulate in Houston, Texas

March 25, 2019

Message of Senator Loren Legarda*
Inauguration of the Philippine Consulate in Houston, Texas
March 22, 2019

*Delivered by Consul Gilbert Segarra, DCG

Foremost, I wish to send my warmest greetings to our kababayans in Houston, especially to the officers and employees of our Consulate who I wish to commend for the hard work that they do in promoting our nation’s interests and protecting our citizens.

Much is expected from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and all the embassies and consulates under it. It is the prime agency of government responsible for the pursuit of the country’s four pillars of foreign policy, namely, the preservation and enhancement of national security, the promotion and attainment of economic security, the protection of the rights and the promotion of the interest of all Filipinos overseas, and the promotion of cultural diplomacy. Our diplomats and our foreign service officers are our silent heroes, who work with much passion and dedication.

As Chair of both the Committee on Foreign Relations and Committee on Finance in the Senate, the needs and concerns of our foreign service posts have been brought to my attention. Among the concerns include additional funding of existing consular offices and embassies, opening of new embassies and consulates, cultural diplomacy programs, training programs, and hazard pay of DFA employees in hardship posts, among others.

It is a must that we address these concerns to ensure that our embassies and consulates would ably carry out their duty to our country and our people. We must ensure that not only our diplomats and foreign service workers are dignified but that they are able to extend basic services to our kababayans abroad.

I am happy that I am able to support the DFA by ensuring that these needs are funded under the national budget. We have already reopened the consular office in Frankfurt recently; the new chancery in Berlin was inaugurated; and now we have this Consulate. Under the proposed budget of 2019, I have further provided additional funding to open more posts, so as to be able to address the needs of our countrymen abroad.

As we stand here, proud to have a new Consulate to serve our kababayans, I am glad to note that our efforts go beyond the needs of our posts. We have also initiated programs that would benefit our country and strengthen our diplomatic ties with many countries.

We have always considered cultural diplomacy as a soft opener to our political and economic initiatives with other nations. Through cultural diplomacy, we foster deeper understanding with other nations and we discover that no matter how diverse our respective cultures are, we see similarities or points of convergence, which spark our curiosity to learn more about the culture of the other nation, and bring about deeper appreciation and understanding among citizens of different cultures. This will also be beneficial to our overseas Filipino workers.

Since 2016, we have ensured the participation of the Philippines through a country pavilion at the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, in Germany. Our continued presence in the Frankfurt Book Fair is a good opportunity for the Philippines to promote our publishing industry in the global arena, as well as to showcase the world-class talents of our Filipino writers and the gems of Filipino literature, espousing our rich culture and traditions.

We have provided funding for the Hibla ng Lahing Filipino Travelling Exhibition, a showcase of our handwoven and embroidered piña-seda fabrics. This is a project I initiated with the National Museum, and has now travelled around the world, including in Washington DC, New York and Hawaii, since its inaugural launch as a travelling exhibition in 2017.

The Philippines has been a constant participant of the Venice Biennale, the world’s oldest contemporary art platform. We have returned in 2015, after a 51-year hiatus.

This year, under the proposed budget of 2019, funding for the promotion of Philippine Studies in New York, Singapore and Madrid, Spain has been allocated. We have already started such initiative in the United Kingdom and in Germany, and we continue to do so.

With the inauguration of the new consulate here in Houston, we hope for more good things to come between the Philippines and the United States. I hope this will be the beginning of many more programs that will foster deeper ties.

It is also my hope that these developments will further inspire our foreign service workers in carrying out their noble duty. I will always be a partner of the DFA and I will continue to support our foreign service posts in whatever way I can.

Congratulations and Mabuhay!