Consul General Emil T. Fernandez to Visit Maui
Alfredo G. Evangelista | Assistant Editor | Photos courtesy Philippine Consulate General
On March 5, Consul General Emil T. Fernandez will make his first visit to Maui. In the morning, he will participate in the 2023 Binhi at Ani Annual Scholarship Golf Tournament. In the evening, beginning at 6 p.m., Binhi at Ani will host a reception in his honor at the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center.
Fernandez was appointed Consul General in Honolulu on September 17, 2021 by then Secretary of Foreign Affairs Teodoro Locsin. Fernandez arrived in Honolulu on November 18, 2021 but due to the pandemic has not been able to travel to the neighbor islands. “Immediately upon my arrival, the primary concern was COVID. Filipino Americans in the state were particularly hit hard, as many worked in the front lines (healthcare, tourism and services industries, etc.) and many were hesitant to be vaccinated,” Fernandez explains. “We entered into partnerships with organizations such as Filcom CARES to address the significant impact of the pandemic. Appropriate measures were likewise put in place in the Consulate to minimize its possible spread.”
Fernandez is a career diplomat and entered the Department of Foreign Affairs in 1998 as a Foreign Service Officer. He graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Economics. He also completed post-graduate courses in Commercial and Trade Diplomacy, International Relations, and International Trade Law and Policy. Fernandez is married to the former Cristina Pardo de Leon and has a son David who recently graduated with a Master of Science in Business Analytics at the College of William and Mary in Virginia.
“As Philippine Consul General in Honolulu, I serve as the Philippine Government’s representative in the state as well as to the U.S. territory of American Samoa,” states Fernandez. “An assignment to the U.S. always involves much consular work due to the size of the Filipino and Filipino-American community, which according to the latest estimates stands at 4.2 million. Following California, Hawai‘i is the U.S. state which has the largest Filipino population at approximately 350,000.”
Prior to his appointment to Hawai‘i, Fernandez served as Deputy Consul General in Frankfurt, Germany. His other foreign assignments included Washington, D.C. (2010–2016), Santiago, Chile (2005–2008) and Caracas, Venezuela (2002–2005).
In Manila, Fernandez held several important positions, including Executive Director of the Office of Asian & Pacific Affairs (2016–2018), Director for Southern Europe of the Office of European Affairs (2009–2010), Special Assistant to the Undersecretary for International Economic Relations (2008–2009) and Acting Director of the Office of ASEAN Affairs (1999–2001).
According to Fernandez, the “main consular services provided by the Philippine Consulate are the issuance of passports and visas, legalization of documents, processing dual citizenship applications, and registration of civil acts such as births, marriages and deaths.”
The Philippine Consulate General was inaugurated on December 30, 1946 in downtown Honolulu (Kukui Street). It moved to its present location (2433 Pali Highway) in 1948. There have been twenty-one appointments as Consul General. (See adjoining box at top-left.) Except for the time period between January 1990 and January 1992—after Consul General Tomas Gomez III and before Consul General Solita M. Aguirre—there has been a Consul General appointed. During that time, Pedro Chan was one of the acting officers in charge.
Currently, there are sixteen persons who staff the Consulate, four of whom are officers including Fernandez. “In addition to the consular functions they perform, the officers have secondary responsibilities,” clarifies Fernandez. “Consul Grace Bulos also serves as Political Officer and Planning Officer. Vice Consul Jomar Sadie also serves as Economic Officer while Vice Consul Leizel Caasi also serves as Assistance-to-Nationals Officer and Cultural Officer, among their other duties.”
When Fernandez arrived in Honolulu, he did the introductory courtesy calls and meetings with city and state officials, USINDOPACOM commanders, members of the Consular Corps, Filipino American community leaders on O‘ahu, business chamber representatives, heads of leading think tanks and the academe, etc.
In October 2022, Fernandez co-led the Trade Mission to the Philippines of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i, where several investment opportunities were explored. Fernandez notes the Philippines can benefit from greater commercial ties with Hawaiian businessmen. “Last month we organized at the Consulate an economic briefing to apprise leading local corporations with the positive developments happening in the Philippines, as well as a “Trabaho, Negosyo at Kabuhayan” seminar to present opportunities in the bustling Ilocos region. These activities were conducted with partners such as the Philippine Trade and Investment Center in Los Angeles and leading telecommunications firm, PLDT.”
Instead of seeing challenges, Fernandez prefers to define “areas where improvements can be made as opportunities. Another area where the Philippines can benefit from is greater U.S. assistance in the modernization of the country’s Armed Forces and enhancing the capacities of its military personnel, as well as learning and sharing experiences in non-traditional fields such as humanitarian assistance and disaster response, cyber security, etc.”
“Binhi at Ani is pleased to lead the community reception for Consul General Emil Fernandez,” said Melen Agcolicol, president of Binhi at Ani. “The free event is open to the public and will begin at 6 p.m. We will have food, entertainment and a presentation by Consul General Fernandez. If you are interested in attending this free event, please RSVP to me at (808) 205-7981 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Alfredo Evangelista at (808) 242-8100 or AlfredoGEvangelista@gmail.com.”
Consul General Fernandez’s presentation will include information about the Very Important Pinoy (VIP) Tour previously known as the Ambassadors, Consuls General and Tourism Directors Tour. The VIP tour will be from July 16 to 24 with fun-filled activities slated in Manila, Iloilo and Boracay.
Although Fernandez’ tenure in Hawai‘i will be relatively short—he must return to the Philippines on August 17, 2024 due to the maximum six year foreign tour-of-duty requirement—he has set four important goals: “Among my goals during my tenure in Hawai‘i are the (1) improvement in provision of consular services, (2) greater engagement with USINDOPACOM to further strengthen US-Philippines defense cooperation, (3) increase two-way trade and investments between the Philippines and the State of Hawai‘i, and (4) heighten cultural links and people-to-people ties.”
As Consul General, Fernandez understands the need for community outreach and to meet members of the Filipino community. “Unlike in Germany or my previous assignments in South America (Venezuela and Chile), Filipino community events in Hawai‘i abound, which also presents a fantastic opportunity for the Consul General to meet with them, hear their amazing stories, and engage with them as partners in uplifting their status and contributing to the further development of the Philippines.”
The Fil-Am Voice welcomes Consul General Emil Fernandez to Maui and encourages Maui’s Filipino community to meet and talk story with him on March 5 at the Binhi at Ani Filipino Community Center in Kahului.
Alfredo G. Evangelista is a graduate of Maui High School (1976), the University of Southern California (1980), and the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law (1983). He is a sole practitioner at Law Offices of Alfredo Evangelista, A Limited Liability Law Company, concentrating in estate planning, business start-up and consultation, nonprofit corporations, and litigation. He has been practicing law for 39 years (since 1983) and returned home in 2010 to be with his family and to marry his high school sweetheart, the former Basilia Tumacder Idica.
Evangelista recalls his first visit to the Philippine Consulate General in August 1976 when Consul General Trinidad Alconcel hosted a despedida party for the Good Shepherd Church Filipino Youth Choir prior to their West Coast trip.