There were many expectations for the night, many organisations and entrepreneurs came to the event to meet the government officials and other groups & individuals. Protocol always comes first in these kinds of events and protocol is one thing that is not explained to the general public, which is a shame. Many young Filipinos do not know the real role of the Philippine embassy , as far as they are concerned, if they need a passport or a visa, they can go to the embassy, but there is a lack of knowledge as to what else the Embassy do.
The night started, as protocol dictates, with the Ambassador Edgardo Espiritu’s speech on how the Embassy hold an annual Christmas party for students and Youth plays a big part in the Embassy’s outreach programmes, Ambassador Espiritu also made a special thank you to groups and individuals such as Igorot UK in promoting Philippine Heritage by cultural performances, Philippine Generations for bringing up the idea of Meet & Greet, Jamielyn De La Cruz for organising the first ever Philippine Independence day party in UK, Katherine Jack who lived in Philippines for a few years helping to conserve Tubbataha reef in Palawan, PinoyUK who helped out when President Arroyo came in 2006, Phil-UK for their efforts amongst the second generation and Pia Tomalden. The Philippine Embassy is interested in hearing from the ‘Youth’, Ambassador Espiritu explained, and want to contribute in promoting Filipinos in the UK. The Ambassador asked, “Why should we keep in contact?” “Politics is more exciting, we need young and fresh leaders like you”. He also mentioned that the economy in Philippines is booming. He advised the younger generation to connect their achievements in the UK to the Philippines by developing their political knowledge, cultural ties and awareness. He proclaimed “Philippine culture is ingrained in every Filipino’s Blood”.
The microphone was then passed on to Consul General Leo Lim who first introduces himself and follows up with a few jokes before he talks through the roles of each of the 24 Embassy staff and their departments.
The Embassy staff: • Execute and implement foreign policy
• Expand economic interaction between the Philippines and UK i.e. trade and investment
• Protect Philippine interest in the UK
• Develop closer Government to Government and people to people relationship with UK and Ireland. • Provide input to RP’s multilateral relations
• Support during Philippine dept negotiation and trade policy representation
• Empower Filipino Community
• Provide consulate assistance
• Passport, Visa, legalisation of documents for use in Philippines
• Assistance to Filipino national in distress and protection
The chance for each person in attendance to say a few words was then presented and it was an opportunity few missed. Some used it to pitch their organization or business, others used it to thank everyone for coming and how positive it was to have so many second generation Filipinos in one room.
Those who spoke included Ermar Alexander and Diane Fauner (Doce pares, Filipino Martial Arts), Adrian Williams and Vincent Fajilagmago (Philippine Generations), Richard Reyes (Film director/producer), Johnny Hussein (Orenzian Experience), Alvin Carpio (Campaign for Human Rights in Philippines), James (Signature Sounds), Philip Panganiban (C.R.U.C.I.A.L), Ingreth Pooten (Igorot UK), Alex Aguilar and Racquel Unana (FilmeFilms), Ryan (entrepreneur, car audio shop, signwriting), Pia (Philippine Centre), Laurence Michael (Lahing Kayumangi), Shelika (Clinical studies, Westminster Hospital).
The night ended with a few ‘Wowowee’ type games amongst Embassy staff and a few keen attendees. One opportunity that was expected but not offered was the chance for the room to ask the Embassy staff questions and perhaps get a more rounded understanding of what the Embassy does and specifically what the Embassy can do for them. Perhaps another opportunity will arise, perhaps not, but the most powerful thing to come out of the event was the amount of links made between the people who came. Many talked of making it a regular event, some wanted to join with others in their groups and organizations, all in all it was a successful event held for the second generation Filipinos who aren’t Youth and aren’t students.There a few people present who used to attend functions at the Embassy when they were students, obviously when they ceased to be students, they could no longer attend student events, so they were very happy to hear that the meet & greet served as the first of potentially many, young professionals evenings, as some Embassy staff had coined it.
We are hopeful it will result in a more responsive network of Filipino groups and organisations than some of us might have experienced in the past through the first generation.
By Adrian Williams