By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
MANILA (Philippines News Agency)– Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Saturday hailed all Filipino workers who continue to provide “selfless service and gentle nurture” abroad as the country celebrated its 123rd Independence Day.
From medical professionals to seafarers, Locsin said overseas Filipino workers have contributed a lot to the world as it continues to reel from the effects of the coronavirus crisis.
“During this pandemic, the Filipino diaspora has contributed much to the world – in keeping besieged health care systems afloat, especially in the most advanced countries; in manning maritime vessels key to trade and commerce; and in running critical infrastructure of many countries,” he said.
“I commend Filipino front-liners abroad for doing what they are best known for – selfless service and gentle nurture, so desperately needed in these terrible times. Our health care workers are our best and most credible ambassadors of goodwill beside whom even diplomats pale. They don’t just avow saving lives; they do it.”
Locsin expressed confidence that the Filipino people would be part of the solution to the ongoing global health situation.
“I cannot say for certain that normalcy will be completely restored. But I believe that down the dark tunnel the global situation will improve. And the Filipino diaspora is part of the light at the end of it. Pandemic or not, this is the best time to be Filipino,” he added.
Locsin noted that the Filipinos’ “dominant global helping presence single-handedly vindicated our push for receiving countries to adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration.”
“I was there in the United Nations when some countries expressed reservations over the Global Compact. Many of these countries now see the Filipino as essential to their recovery,” he said. “They cannot heal without you. The global Filipino has redefined to a higher level what it means to be an essential worker. I cannot convey enough of my deep respect for you.”
Locsin, meanwhile, assured that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) is ready to extend necessary assistance to all Filipinos abroad.
He added that the agency’s repatriation efforts for distressed nationals also continue to this day.
“No matter where you are, if you are in grave risk, you can count on the DFA to leave no one behind. That is our blood compact with overseas Filipinos if we have to suture our cellphones to our ears and our fingers to the keyboard,” he said.
‘Celebrating with PH’
On the occasion, the country’s foreign service posts mounted their own virtual Independence Day celebrations.
Several countries also joined the Philippines in commemorating the event.
In a video message, US President Joe Biden greeted the Philippines and touted the “enduring friendship” between the two countries.
Biden said 2021 also marks their 75 years of diplomatic relations and 70th year since the signing of the Mutual Defense Treaty, which makes Manila one of Washington’s long-standing defense allies.
He said the Philippines and the US have so much history and its people are “forever connected through deep bonds and shared sacrifices of valor.”
“More than four million Filipinos and Filipino-Americans call the US home. They make invaluable contributions to communities all across our country. They enrich the American character making our nation stronger and more vibrant,” Biden said.
“As we honor this joyful occasion of independence and friendship, let’s also look to the future, at the challenges our two countries must continue to work to take on together, from defeating this pandemic and strengthening the global preparedness for the next one, to advancing the free and open Indo-Pacific region for all peoples.”
The European Union also sent its greetings through Twitter, saying, “We in the EU in the Philippines salute you, the Filipino people and your continued aspirations for togetherness, solidarity, and healing.”
“We share these ideals and values. Isang maalab na pagbati ngayong Araw ng Kalayaan,” it added.
The Canadian Embassy in Manila likewise hailed the strong people-to-people ties between the two nations.
In a statement, it said, “We join our Filipino friends in the celebration of their 123rd anniversary of Philippine Independence. Strong people-to-people links between Canada and the Philippines are the cornerstone of our close ties. Today, almost one million Canadians of Filipino origin call Canada home.”
“Now and always, we look forward to continue deepening our relationship with the Philippines,” it added.
Among the nations that greeted the country online were Japan, France, Australia, Austria, Russia, China, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Denmark, and Israel. (PNA)