President Benigno S. Aquino III Meets the Filipino Community

The President delivers his speech in front of Filipino community at the  Yokohama Futaba High School on Nov. 14. (Photo by: Jay Morales /Malacañang Photo Bureau).

The President delivers his speech in front of Filipino community at the Yokohama Futaba High School on Nov. 14. (Photo by: Jay Morales /Malacañang Photo Bureau).

President Benigno S. Aquino III met with around 1,200 members of the Filipino community on 14 November 2010 at the Yokohama Futaba High School, after participating in the 18th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders Meeting. The Filcom members came from various parts of Japan, from Hokkaido to Kyushu, to personally see the President for the first time since he assumed office.

Chargé d’Affaires Belen F. Anota of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo led the Filcom in welcoming the President and his delegation. Other officials present were Consul General Maria Lourdes Ramiro Lopez of the Philippine Consulate General in Osaka, Philippine Honorary Consul in Hokkaido Kenichi Tobe, Philippine Honorary Consul in Tohoku Masahiro Murayama and Futaba High School Principal Takuji Chiba.

The Filcom meeting began with a concelebrated mass led by the Most Reverend Raphael Umemura Masahiro, Bishop of the Diocese of Yokohama, with Fr. Oscar Samson, Assistant Pastor of the Sacred Cathedral Parish (seat of the Diocese) and Filipino priests from the Archdiocese of Tokyo and Chiba, Yokohama and Urawa. The theme of the meeting was “Bayang Nagkakaisa – Isang Mithiin at Pangarap.”

The President with Chargé d’Affaires Belen F. Anota of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo (right) and Dr. Mel Kasuya of the Filipino community (left). (Photo by: Francis Tan/Philippine Embassy).

The President with Chargé d’Affaires Belen F. Anota of the Philippine Embassy in Tokyo (right) and Dr. Mel Kasuya of the Filipino community (left). (Photo by: Francis Tan/Philippine Embassy).

After the mass, the President delivered his speech, first highlighting the positive developments in the country. The President noted the greatly improved performance of the stock market, the increased confidence of investors in the Philippines, and the various reforms that have been introduced to facilitate doing business in the country.

In response to a proposal made by the Filipino community to set up a Philippine center called “Tahanan” that will help promote Filipino culture as well as cater to the welfare of the next generation of Filipino and Japanese children, the President said, “We are here with the Secretary of Foreign Affairs and I have directed him to study at the soonest possible time the creation of a Philippine center.” The proposal was based on the inputs of some 20 Filcom organizations and leaders, and was delivered by Dr. Carmelita Kasuya.

The President receiving 1,000 origami cranes from Filipino and Japanese children. (Photo by: Francis Tan/Philippine Embassy).

The President receiving 1,000 origami cranes from Filipino and Japanese children. (Photo by: Francis Tan/Philippine Embassy).

The President noted the lament of many Filipinos about the high fees their remittances were being charged. According to the President, it will now be easier and more affordable for Filipinos in Japan to send money back home following the signing of an agreement between the Land Bank of the Philippines and Japan Post Bank.

Under the agreement, Filipino workers can send their remittances through the nearest Japan Post Bank and their relatives can pick up the money from any Land Bank branch in the Philippines. “We expect this simplified procedure to be available for workers here by January 17, 2011,” the President added.

The President also said that during the APEC Leaders Meeting, the Philippines worked closely with other countries in dealing with the volatility of regional currencies, including the peso, to make sure that, among others, the money being remitted by overseas Filipino workers will enjoy a favorable exchange rate.

The Filcom event closed with a prayer and an offering of 1,000 pieces of origami cranes for the President by children of Filipino and Japanese descent. In Japan, a gift of a thousand origami cranes is given as a wish for happiness, good health, success and peace. The origami cranes were prepared by the children and their families.