During a recent visit to the Philippine Embassy in Beijing, a delegation from Manila, headed by yours truly, was fortunate to have had an audience with Philippine Ambassador to China Jaime Florcruz.
In our tete-a-tete, he expressed his gladness that there are those like our delegation who take time to nurture our sister-city relations, more particularly with our China counterparts and said he hopes that many others will follow suit.
Based on information we gathered from concerned sectors, we learned that Ambassador Jaime Florcruz, along with Marshall Louis Alferez, consul-general of the Philippines in Guangzhou, are both doing an excellent job and we laud the administration of President Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. for having chosen these two statesmen to handle the Philippines’ affairs with China at a time when many are recklessly putting emotions above the country’s overall welfare.
In my own humble opinion, I totally agree with Ambassador Florcruz when he said that nothing works better than diplomacy and continued talks.
In the case of Manila for instance, many cities in China have been expressing their interest to either revive dormant or enter into new sister-city agreements with Manila, as they verbalize how impressed they are over the way the city is being run by Mayor Honey Lacuna. The fact that she is also the first lady mayor ever to hold the position makes them all the more in awe.
Modesty aside too, since Mayor Honey assumed office, many universities in various parts of China have signified their interest in teaming up with the city-run Universidad de Manila (UdM), headed by its very efficient President Dr. Carlos Felma-Tria, for purposes of exchanges in different aspects of education that will greatly benefit both parties and the Ambassador was just too happy to hear the good news.
Ambassador Florcruz was surprised and highly impressed when I imparted to him the news that so far, at least 19 universities have expressed interest to have a sister-school relationship with the UdM which, so far, had already been entertaining some of them.
Our Mayor, in response to all these, had been taking the treatment in a very positive note and had been reciprocating the show of interest by the said various cities from China.
We in Manila, after all, are not of short memory.
During the height of the pandemic, the Chinese communities here and abroad have been very helpful to the Manila city government in terms of donating all sorts of stuff that could help the city survive and tackle the problem.
In fact, Manila was the only local government unit that was allowed by the China government to purchase directly, at cost, hundreds of thousands of anti-COVID vaccines at a time when supplies were scarce. This contribution enabled the city to vaccinate and provide protection to Manila’s eligible population at that time.
Now with Mayor Honey at the helm of government in Manila, members of the Chinese and Chinese-Filipino communities continue to support in various kinds of ways.
Just last week, the China-based sporting company Peak donated 200 pairs of rubber shoes and a cheque in support of the Manila Sports Council (MASCO) headed by Roel de Guzman and during the turnover of donations, its President Michael Chenglay specifically told us that he had been away from the country for 20 years and was happy to come back to a progressive Manila.
Out of gladness, the company decided to support the city of Manila and the administration of Mayor Honey and help its sports programs aimed at veering the youngsters away from vices like illegal drugs.
So far, a good number of secretaries-general of provinces in China get in touch with the Manila city government for the re-establishment of sister-city ties. In fact, the local government already made such ties possible with the provinces of Fuzhou, Chongqing and Guangzhou, with several others now in the works.
All of them made known their interest in Manila because of the positive developments taking place in the city under the Lacuna administration and they join the growing list of foreign governments that have expressed the same, coupling such impression and trust with valuable support.
In the case of Guangzhou, it is the first sister-city that Manila ever had but for some reason, we lost connection so that what happened recently, was just a resumption of that relationship. In fact, Marshall Louis Alferez, consul-general of the Philippines in Guangzhou, was on hand to welcome the Manila delegation during a visit we made in Guangzhou months ago.
It may be worth recounting that no less than the influential and revered China leader, Chairman Mao Ze Dong, told then First Lady Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, wife of the late President Ferdinand Marcos and mother of current Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., that he wants Manila to be the sister-city of Guangzhou.
This coming November, the city government will mark its 47th anniversary of the establishment of relationship between Manila and Guangzhou. While such was contained in a formal accord that was signed in 1982, the relationship between the two cities actually begun in 1975, during the visit made by First Lady Imelda Marcos to China.
We now look forward to having the same kind of relationship with Beijing, after the latter signified the same.
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