iWant head Elaine Uy-Casipit, ABS-CBN head of OTT programming and content developmen Richard Reynante, Israeli Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz,and director Nico Hernandez.
Philippines earns place in Holocaust Museum for saving more Jews than Schindler
Deni Rose M. Afinidad-Bernardo, Jan Milo Severo (Philstar.com) - February 5, 2020 - 1:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — Israel Ambassador to the Philippines Rafael Harpaz credited former Presidents Manuel Quezon and Manuel Roxas as reasons why Filipinos do not need a visa to visit Israel.

During the recent press conference of iWant’s documentary “The Last Manilaners,” the ambassador invited Filipinos to visit Israel.

“We love Filipinos in Israel. We have 30,000 Filipinos working and living in Israel. For Filipinos who want to go to Israel, go, walang visa. It’s very unique for you,” Harpaz said.

“It’s unique because Filipinos need visa to most countries in the world except to Southeast Asia. The reason is because of those two presidents — President Manuel Quezon and Manuel Roxas.”

During World War II, around 1,300 Jews found a safe haven in the Philippines through Quezon’s open-door policy, a little known story in history depicted in the film “Quezon’s Game.”

In contrast, German Nazi Party member Oskar Schindler, subject of the hit Steven Spielberg-directed biopic “Schindler’s List,” saved around 1,200 Jews from the Holocaust.

In 1947, under Roxas, the Philippines became the tie-breaking voice in the United Nations to establish the State of Israel.

As gratitude to Filipinos, Harpaz announced that the Philippines will be included in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Center in Jerusalem.

According to him, during their recent celebrations last Holocaust Day, January 27, for the 75th anniversary of the Auschwitz concentration camp's liberation from the Nazis, he and his fellow Jews decided to include the Philippines in the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum.

“Actually, President Duterte visited the museum and we actually decided that the story (of the Filipinos’ contribution) will be incorporated in the museum and it’s something that’s very, very important,” the ambassador declared.

It can be recalled that Duterte made a historic visit to the center last 2018. During the visit, he was reportedly surprised to be greeted in Filipino by one of the Jews that found refuge in the Philippines after fleeing from the Holocaust.

The last living Holocaust survivors who sought refuge in the Philippines after fleeing Nazi Germany – known as Manilaners – opened up about growing up in Manila in new original documentary series “The Last Manilaners,” which is now streaming on iWant.

“The Last Manilaners” is based on the perspectives of Margot Pins Kestenbaum, Max Weissler and Lotte Hershfield, who were children when their families suffered persecution in their homeland for being Jews. 

Weissler is said to be the Filipino-speaking Manilaner Duterte met in Israel.

Shot in Israel and USA and directed by Nico Hernandez, the documentary started streaming on iWant last January 27, the global commemoration of Holocaust Day.

— Videos by Kat Leandicho

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