Consul General’s Corner

Consul General’s Corner

Emil T. Fernandiz

Consulate Commemorates 125 Years of Philippine Freedom

June was a busy month for the Philippine Consulate in Honolulu as several activities were held to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence. On June 12, 1898 in Cavite, the Philippines declared its status as a sovereign nation, which gave birth to the first Philippine Republic. Through the annual observance of Philippine independence, we remember the valiant efforts of our predecessors who fought for freedom and secure a future they envisioned for the country.

On June 11, former University of Hawai‘i professor Dr. Raymund Liongson, and the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu, behind the leadership of its chair, Mr. Edmund Aczon, staged Kasarinlan: A Journey to Independence. The re-enactment showcased important episodes of Philippine history from pre-colonial times to the struggle for freedom under Spanish rule and the declaration of Independence in Kawit. The activity featured lively cultural performances and heartfelt renditions of kundiman songs, Bayan Ko and Sampaguita.

On June 12, the Consulate, together with members of the Knights of Rizal – Hawai‘i Chapter and the Philippine Celebrations Coordinating Committee of Hawai‘i (PCCCH), held a solemn ceremony to hoist the Philippine flag. The national day messages of President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr., Secretary for Foreign Affairs Enrique A. Manalo, and Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez were read during the occasion. A modest salo-salo ensued with community members delighting attendees with surprise performances of Tagalog and Ilokano songs.

Flag raising ceremony at the Philippine Consulate with Filipino community members.
Photo courtesy Mark Salondaka

The Consulate hosted a reception on June 13 for U.S. government and Consular Corps officials. Director Jade Butay of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations, a Filipino-American whose parents hail from Ilocos Norte, represented the Hawai‘i State government. Director Butay and I led the toast affirming the robust and deep alliance between the Philippines and the United States, our growing partnership in multiple areas and the meaningful contributions of Filipinos and Filipino Americans to Hawai‘i and the United States. We were honored to be joined by former Governor Benjamin Cayetano and Madame Vicky Cayetano during the reception.

Consul General Emil Fernandez (second from right) shares a toast with Lt. Governor Luke (center), Mayor Blangiardi (second from left), PCCCH Chairperson Adela Salacup (right) and Ms. Amelia Cabatu (left).
Photo courtesy Mark Salondaka

On June 14, the Consulate and PCCCH opened an art exhibit dubbed Hibla at Pinta featuring the paintings of Filipino artist and fashion designer Mr. Edgar San Diego. Through his artistry, Mr. San Diego brought to life strong Filipiniana elements in his paintings and created pieces vividly capturing one’s imagination.

The Consulate again partnered with PCCCH on June 17 in organizing this year’s Independence Day gala. The guests were dressed to impress in either traditional Filipiniana pieces or their modern interpretation. Adorned in their Filipiniana attire, Lt. Governor Sylvia Luke and Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi generously took time off from their busy schedules to take part in the celebration. In her remarks, Lt. Gov. Luke highlighted the strong ties between the Philippines and Hawai‘i and recalled the Filipinos who first arrived in the islands in 1906 as Sakadas. She also emphasized the importance of recalling history and the initiative of the younger generation to include Philippine history in Hawai‘i’s curriculum. In my message, I reflected on the impact of the Filipino diaspora to the development of both the Philippines and the United States, and the crucial role each and every Filipino plays as an ambassador of Philippine culture and heritage.

Consul General Emil Fernandez welcomes guests during the Philippine national day reception.
Photo courtesy the Philippine Consulate

And no Filipino celebration would be complete without food! At the tail-end of the Consulate’s commemorative activities, Filipino Food Week in Hawai‘i and American Samoa was again held. From June 20 to 26, over twenty participating establishments throughout the islands presented their interpretation of pulutan dishes or specialty cocktails. The activity was warmly received by the talented chefs who experimented with Filipino cuisine. Three of the establishments were Maui-based – Tante’s Island Cuisine, Macadangdang, and Joey’s Kitchen–Nāpili. It was truly a pleasure to collaborate with these amazing restaurants, who continue to prove Filipino food deserves the spotlight in the culinary scene.

Filipino Food Week specials: Macadangdang’s Sisig (above) and Tante’s Island Cuisine’s Bulalo (below).
Photos courtesy Macadangdang and Tante’s Island Cuisine

The Consulate expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the organizations and Filipino community members who supported and initiated activities to celebrate Philippine independence this year, including the Fil-Am Community of East Hawai‘i, which had their 2nd Philippine Independence Day celebration in Hilo. As Filipinos, we fittingly take pride in our nation. Your efforts to enhance our global image does not go unnoticed. The Philippine Consulate looks forward to working with the community in honoring our country’s heritage for generations to come. Mabuhay ang lahing Pilipino!

Emil T. Fernandez is the current Consul General of the Philippines stationed in Honolulu. He graduated from the Ateneo de Manila University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Economics. 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).