WASHINGTON, D.C. — More than 400 guests attended the Diplomatic Reception commemorating the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence at the Roof Terrace Restaurant of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, June 17.
“It is very opportune that our theme for this year’s Independence Day celebration is ‘Courage of the Nation, Compassion for the People.’ For it takes courage for a nation to tread the path of independence by relying on its own capabilities and resources to solve its own problems without being dependent on other countries. It also takes commitment for a nation to achieve a status wherein it is not an encumbrance or liability, but a significant contributor to the global efforts in fighting terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, and other transnational crimes that undermine not only the freedom of nations but threaten the lives of people across the globe,” Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in his keynote address.
The ambassador continued, “The other half of our 2019 Independence Day theme, ‘Compassion for the People,’ is apparent in the exercise of strong political will by the government to push for game-changing reforms and bold initiatives such as the ambitious infrastructure program of the Duterte administration with 75 flagship projects to spur economic growth across the country.”
Romualdez further underscored the positive developments that the Philippines has recently achieved which includes fiscal reforms that led to a strong macroeconomic performance, credit rating upgrade to “Triple B Plus” by Standard and Poor’s, and enhancements in the country’s military capabilities.
He likewise emphasized the strong people-to-people ties between the Philippines and the United States, as well as the mutual respect, recognition, and understanding that both countries are sovereign nations with unique domestic issues that must be resolved independently.
The guest of honor, U.S. Department of State Undersecretary for Management Brian Bulatao, underscored in his remarks the dynamic and enduring alliance between the two countries in the areas of security cooperation, economic cooperation, and people-to-people ties.
“Make no mistake, the U.S.-Philippines alliance is the strongest one in Asia and has contributed to peace and stability for more than 70 years. The visit of President Trump during the 2017 East Asia Summit and the Secretary’s recent visit three months ago demonstrate what a strategic priority this partnership and this friendship is,” said Bulatao.
“As friends, partners, and allies, the United States and the Philippines stand together united by common values and a shared history of sacrifice,” he added.
Filipino-American tenor Alan Palacios-Chan performed a heartfelt rendition of the Philippine and U.S. national anthems to start the reception program.
The Independence Day celebration was made even more special with the attendance of reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray from the Philippines who joined Ambassador Romualdez and Undersecretary Bulatao on stage for the toast and ceremonial cake-cutting.
Guests also enjoyed a sumptuous lineup of food and beverages including various Filipino dishes such as lechon (roast pig), and Chef Abie Sincioco-Mateo’s pork sisig, lumpiang sariwa, and buko pandan. Gwenie’s pastries’ ube cupcakes and Pastries by Randolph’s mocha cakes were also added in the superb lineup of desserts.
The Embassy gave away boxes of Stookies Cookie Sticks, an original product of the Philippines, to the guests after the reception.
One of the main highlights of the evening is the concert by world-renowned Filipino virtuoso pianist Cecile Licad, which took place at the Kennedy Center Family Theater after the reception.
“This concert is a centerpiece of a series of programs supported by the US-Philippines Society during the month of June when Americans are congratulating our Filipino friends in commemorating the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence and marking the enduring ties between our two countries and peoples. I can’t think of a more fitting and delightful way to cap this memorable evening than to be in the presence of the masterful Cecile Licad,” said U.S.-Philippines Society Co-Chair Ambassador John Negroponte in his remarks prior to the concert.
The evening’s festivities were presented by the Philippine Embassy, together with the US-Philippines Society, and in cooperation with PLDT Global Corporation, PLDT US, and First Pacific Company Limited.
Steinway & Sons, The Ritz Carlton in Washington, D.C., Mel Odilao of the Four Seasons Hotel, and Erwin Gomez of KARMA Beauty Lounge extended additional support