US State Undersecretary for Management Brian Bulatao and reigning Miss Universe Catriona Gray join in a toast to the longstanding friendship between the Philippines and the US.
Philippines Independence Day gala in DC a hit
THIS WEEK ON PEOPLEASIA - Babe Romualdez (The Philippine Star) - June 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Close to 450 guests attended the diplomatic reception organized by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence held at the Roof Terrace Restaurant of the iconic John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

We were pleased to see a lot of our friends joining us for the celebration, such as US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Southeast Asia Dr. Joseph Felter and Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly. My fellow ambassadors from ASEAN were also in attendance as well as members of the US-Philippines Society that included its president, Ambassador John Maisto, and former US Ambassadors to the Philippines John Negroponte, Thomas Hubbard, Harry Thomas and my good friend Philip Goldberg.

With former US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and US Assistant Secretary of Defense for Southeast Asia Dr. Joseph Felter.

In my speech, I talked about the real independence, which is not simply having the right to vote or exercise the freedom of speech or religion, but being self-reliant and being liberated from poverty, which can be achieved if we had a strong and resilient economy.

I also spoke about successful Filipino-Americans and how they are appreciated and admired for their talent and their industry. One of them was our guest of honor, State Undersecretary for Management Brian Bulatao who is a close friend and adviser to State Secretary Mike Pompeo. Both men were classmates at the US Military Academy at West Point and also went to Harvard.

Expressing my gratitude to Vietnamese Ambassador Ha Kim Ngoc for the rescue of Filipino fishermen by Vietnamese fishermen.

Filipino-American tenor Alan Palacios-Chan gave a heartfelt rendition of the Philippine and US national anthems to start the program during the reception. Making the evening even more special was the presence of our very own Catriona Gray, the reigning Miss Universe — an epitome of beauty and charm. Catriona was the “darling” of the guests, with everyone lining up to take their turn at having a selfie with the beauty queen who captivated everyone with her gracious ways.

Everyone enjoyed a sumptuous lineup of Filipino dishes that included lechon (roast pig), lumpiang sariwa, buko-pandan and the famous pork sisig of chef Abie Sincioco-Mateo.

US-Philippines Society co-chair Ambassador John Negroponte delivers brief remarks prior to the piano concert.

The evening went smoothly, with guests walking from the reception area to the Kennedy Center Family Theater to watch the concert by world-renowned Filipino virtuoso pianist Cecile Licad, organized in collaboration with PLDT-US represented by Albert del Rosario Jr. and the US-Philippines Society.

The US State Department’s Senior Philippines Desk Officer Richard Blackwood and Deputy Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Walter Douglas.

Cecile blew everyone away with her masterful performance of works by Frederic Chopin and Filipino composer Francisco Buencamino — underscoring once again the world-class talent of Filipinos.

Close to 450 guests joined the reception to celebrate the 121st anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine Independence.

Congratulations to the dedicated staff of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. who all worked hard to make our Independence Day celebration a great success!

Philippine Embassy Minister for Political and Legislative Affairs Rosanna Villamor-Voogel served as the Master of Ceremonies during the program.
World-renowned Filipino pianist Cecile Licad gave a masterful performance of works by Frederic Chopin and Francisco Buencamino. Photos by Lia Macadangdang

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