Speech | Remarks of Ambassador Antonio M. Lagdameo during the Virtual Flag Raising Ceremony in Celebration of the 122nd Anniversary of Philippine Independence
Mga kababayan, magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.
At the outset, I would like to thank you all for joining this virtual flag ceremony by which we commemorate the 122nd anniversary of the declaration of Philippine independence. This year, we are forced by circumstance to make use of new technology to ensure that we are still able to meet and be united in spirit despite stringent physical distancing measures and other disruptions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indeed, we awoke to a situation which most of us have never encountered before—everyone was required to shelter and take cover against the insidious attack of an unseen enemy that has claimed many lives and stopped the world in its tracks. In the face of economic uncertainties, social adjustments, and the new normal that we are now required to be familiar with, it is easy to feel embattled, beleaguered, and beset by huge difficulties.
Our ancestors must have felt the same way 122 years ago when they rose against colonial rule to create a new republic where freedom and equality could hold sway. By their actions, we know of their courage, determination and unshakable patriotism in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. By their individual and collective sacrifices, we now enjoy the blessings of democracy and national sovereignty. They were heroes because they were able to conquer their fear and fight for what they believed in.
At present, we are witness to similar accounts of heroism as the Philippines, the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world face the huge challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. I would like to commend our Consulate in Dublin, Ireland for their hard work and dedication to duty especially during these trying times. Filipino heroes have taken center stage to inspire courage and perseverance wherever they are—be it in the COVID-19 wards and ICUs of hospitals, in various care homes, aboard fishing boats and oil tankers, at the supermarkets and factories, in the transportation, sanitation and social welfare offices of local governments, in law enforcement, and in various volunteering roles that bring material assistance and moral support to those who suffer under the lockdown. They are heroes because they are able to conquer their fears and fights no just for themselves but for those who depend on them.
We are indeed a nation of heroes, and we bring this heroism with us wherever the tides of fortune carry us. And so, let today’s commemoration of an auspicious event in our nation’s history be a celebration of the huge contribution that these present day heroes offer to our society. And may it serve as an encouragement for all of us to also do our part in building a strong and stable republic and in nurturing a more caring and compassionate society. Maging bahagi sana tayo ng pagsulong tungo sa isang bansang malaya, nagbabayanihan, at ligtas.
Maligayang araw ng Kalayaan, at mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Mga minamahal kong kababayang manggagawa sa bansang ito, isang mainit na pagbati sa inyong lahat sa pagdiriwang ng Philippine Migrant Workers’ Day.
It was on this exact date 25 years ago when the President of the Philippines signed into law Republic Act No. 8042, or the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995. At the time of its enactment, this law was quite revolutionary because, for the first time after decades of encouraging foreign deployment of Filipino workers, the Philippine Government made an important policy declaration: The protection of the Filipino migrant workers and the promotion of their welfare shall be the highest priority concerns of the Government and its embassies and consulates abroad.
It was also under this law that ground-breaking Philippine strategies and best practices were encoded in a comprehensive legal framework. These include anti-illegal recruitment, reintegration, education and skills training, repatriation, and information sharing policies which embassies and consulates were mandated to adopt under the one-country-team approach.
You may not be familiar with the letter of this law, but many of our kababayans in the UK and Ireland have experienced its application. When a household service worker escapes from an abusive employer and is given food, shelter and legal representation by the Embassy, it is because of this law. When a seafarer loses life or limb while on a fishing boat somewhere off the coast of Scotland, it is this law that required adequate insurance cover for that seafarer. And, more pleasantly this time, when your family and friends enjoy your tasty cakes and coffee cocktails, wear your sparkling accessories, admire your photographic or soap-carving prowess, or don the dresses that you designed and made, it is this law that mandated free skills training for overseas Filipinos as part of their empowerment.
RA 8042 was amended ten years ago with the passage of Republic Act No, 10022, which further strengthened the country’s management of migration and migration-related issues. Because of our long experience in managing labor migration, the Philippines has become a powerful voice in the international community as the champion of a rights-based approach to overseas employment and labor migration.
Today, on the Silver Anniversary of the enactment of RA 8042, and as we celebrate Migrant Workers’ Day, we at the Embassy, of which POLO-London is an integral part, renew our pledge as officials of the Government to abide by and fully enforce all Philippine laws and regulations that protect overseas Filipinos and promote their welfare. We re-dedicate ourselves to our mandate to be the staunch ally and reliable partner of overseas Filipinos as they work for a better life and a more prosperous future for their loved ones, both here and those left behind in the Philippines. We recall with gratitude the massive contribution of overseas Filipinos to our country’s development and economic stability. And we proclaim with pride that Filipino workers in the United Kingdom and Ireland are a positive contribution to the social fabric and economy of these two countries.
In these difficult times we find ourselves in, as the UK, Ireland and the rest of the world face the huge challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Filipino worker shines — be it in the COVID wards and ICUs of hospitals, in various care homes, or aboard the fishing boats and oil rigs at sea, or at the farms, supermarkets, and distribution centers that kept these two countries fed and stocked during the lockdown, or in the transportation, sanitation and other social services of various local councils all over the UK and Ireland. Your contribution to your local communities and to these two countries in general remains a source of pride for us at the Embassy.
May I take this opportunity to pay my deepest respects to Filipino workers in the UK and Ireland who have passed on due to COVID-19, especially those who were infected while they were doing their jobs. They are heroes in the true sense of the word. Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones and we pray that they are now at peace.
I hope that our commemoration today would encourage all of you who are participating in this virtual gathering to take pride in what you do, to celebrate your important role in the life of these countries and of our beloved Philippines, and to seize every opportunity to become better, more skilled, and more valuable contributors to your local communities.
In a few days, we will celebrate the 122nd anniversary of the declaration of Philippine Independence. Our theme this year is “Kalayaan 2020: Tungo sa Bansang Malaya, Nagbabayanihan, at Ligtas”. Ngayon pa lang ay sasabihin ko na sa inyo na para sa amin, kayo ay mga bayani, at sa inyo nakasalalay ang matagumpay na bayanihan na magpapatatag at magpapalakas sa ating Inang Bayan.
Mabuhay kayo at ang lahat ng manggagawang Pilipino saan mang panig ng mundo!
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