Philippine Consulate General talks Philippine-U.S. relations
He was invited by Penn Philippine Association as part of Filipino Heritage Month
October 21, 2013, 10:02 pm · Updated October 21, 2013, 11:53 pm·
Antoni Gierczak | DP
Last night, the Honorable Mario Lopez de Leon began a talk in Huntsman Hall with a simple greeting — “Good evening” — in his native language of Tagalog.
As part of Filipino Heritage Month, the Penn Philippine Association invited de Leon — who is the Consul General of the Philippine Consulate General New York — to deliver a presentation focusing on the current state of the Philippine-United States relations, economic development in the Philippines and trends in the Filipino-American community in the U.S. northeast.
For de Leon, the Philippines’ relationship with the United States “remains one of the most important bilateral engagements spanning over a century.” He added that the United States and the Philippines share a common respect for human rights and the advancement of democracy, peace and free trade.
De Leon also boasted that due to the country’s rapid economic growth in recent years — it’s had the fastest-growing economy in Asia for the first quarter of 2013 — nowadays “it’s more fun in the Philippines.”
The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation, commonly known as HSBC, predicts the country will become the 16th largest economy in the world by 2050, while Goldman Sachs places it in the 14th slot.
The consul also addressed some issues facing many Filipino Americans, especially citizenship — noting that there are about 60,000 illegal Filipino immigrants within his jurisdiction alone, New York and New Jersey.
“Growing up as Filipino American you have this tendency not to think about the Philippines,” College senior Ronald Martin said, pointing to a difference between the consul’s advice to not lose one’s heritage and the practical wisdom he grew up hearing . “The cultural norm is to integrate as soon as possible. If you can think back, great. But it’s mostly about the parents wanting to succeed.”
Nursing and Wharton freshman Samantha Noblejas said she was excited to “interact with someone so high up in the Filipino scale. I’m second-generation [Filipino-American] so I thought it was really cool to find more about my roots and find more ways to improve my country.”
Rounding out the event, de Leon left his audience with a passionate call to action. “Continue to be proud Filipino-American and elevate our presence. Find your passion and be committed to making a genuine contribution. Live out your own stories!”