By Publisher Lee Kyung-sik, Editor Kevin Lee
Ambassador Theresa Dizon-De Vega of the Republic of the Philippines in Seoul indicated that as the Philippine Embassy celebrates another milestone in national life we likewise celebrate the enduring and growing partnership between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.
Speaking at a reception hosted by the Embassy of the Philippines at the Grand Hyatt Seoul on June 13, 2022, Ambassador Dizon-De Vega then added, “From our shared sacrifices during the Korean War which are at the core of our relations, to our constantly evolving engagement in the political, security, defense, economic, cultural, labor, tourism, and people-to-people areas – ours is a bond rooted in history and yet dynamic and forward-looking.”
The gala reception was attended by many distinguished guests from the Korean government and various other segments of Korean society—as well as from the Seoul Diplomatic Corps, whence many ambassadors and other senior diplomats attended the reception.
Among them were Defense Acquisition Program Administration Chief Kang Eun-ho, Deputy Minister Chun Yoon-joong of Trade, Industry & Energy, and Ambassador Carlo Victor Boungou of Bongo of Gabon (dean of the Seoul Diplomatic Corps).
There also were representatives of many business and civic organizations present at the reception.
Excerpts from the speech of Ambassador Dizon-De Vega follow:
Honorable Kang Eun-ho, Minister of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration; Honorable Dr. Chun Yoon-Joong, Deputy Minister of Trade, Industry, and Energy; Ambassador Carlo Victor Boungou, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps;
Excellencies of the Diplomatic Corps; Honored guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
Anneyong Hashimnika. Mabuhay and thank you for gracing our commemoration of the 124th anniversary of Philippine Independence with your valued presence. Tonight’s gathering of friends and partners is a much welcome development after more than two years of being in virtual rooms.
The Philippine Embassy in the Republic of Korea joins Filipinos around the world in celebrating our nation’s independence. Regarded as Asia’s first constitutional republic established 124 years ago, the Philippines has through the centuries endured and responded to many challenges both internal and external.
And with each generation and each passing period, the heroism and sacrifice of our forebears has constantly provided inspiration and guidance in navigating an increasingly complex road towards achieving a peaceful, just, progressive, secure, and sustainable future.
While we honor them today for the precious gifts of democracy and freedom, we likewise recognize and acknowledge the heroes of the present, those who in their own way managed to rise to the challenges of the pandemic and the even more daunting challenge of recovering from it.
As the Philippine Embassy celebrates another milestone in our national life we likewise celebrate the enduring partnership between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea.
From our shared sacrifices during the Korean War which are at the core of our relations, to our constantly evolving engagement in the political, security, defense, economic, cultural, labor, tourism, and people-to-people areas – ours is a bond rooted in history and yet dynamic and forward-looking.
This year marks the 73rd anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries and as early as now plans are being made for our milestone commemoration of our 75th year of ties in 2024.
There is much to work on in our bilateral and multilateral agenda. From the great strides we continue to make in defense cooperation, the conclusion of negotiations for a Philippines-Korea Free Trade Agreement in late 2021, the recent activation of new bilateral dialogue platforms on fisheries, science and technology, and soon maritime cooperation, to an increasing number of exchanges of official visits – this year alone there have already been three Ministerial-level visits of Philippine officials to Korea - relations are indeed entering an even more robust period.
We likewise look forward to more engagement in emerging areas of cooperation in public health cooperation, energy, digitalization and innovation, climate change, green growth, and green mobility on bilateral, multilateral, and regional fronts through our ASEAN Dialogue Partnership and new economic platforms such as the RCEP and IPEF.
Finally, we continue to be ready partners with Korea in promoting inclusiveness and valuing multiculturalism as we continue to learn and appreciate more about each other’s unique cultures, traditions, and histories.
To our dear guests, this time of the year is always a special time for Filipinos the world over. A time when we celebrate our culture, arts, music, dance, and cuisine. A chance to be transported back home. We hope that you will feel some of this tonight as you join our commemoration.
And if tonight is not enough, we are pleased to invite you for an interactive Philippine travel experience starting tomorrow, from the 14th to the 20th of June at The Hyundai Seoul for an It’s More Fun in Philippines Experience. As they say you cannot have enough of a fun thing.
May I now ask you to join me in a toast to 124 years of the Philippine Republic and the enduring friendship between the Philippines and the Republic of Korea!
Cheers! Mabuhay! Salamat. Kamsahamnida.
Personally, I developed a personal friendship with the people of the Republic of Philippines during the Korean War of 1950-3 when I worked as an interpreter-translator for a United Nations Forces unit.
The Philippines is a long-time partner of the Republic of Korea. A year after establishing diplomatic relations with ROK – the first state in the ASEAN and the fifth in the world to do so – it sent about 7,420 soldiers to fight in the Korean War, which lasted from 1950 to 1953. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Yultong, where members of the Philippine Expeditionary Forces to Korea (PEFTOK) fought valiantly for a valuable victory in the Korean War. Due in great part to their noble contribution and sacrifice, relations between Korea and the Philippines flourished in various areas over the past seventy years.
In the last four years since President Moon Jae-in took office in 2017, this bilateral relationship has been elevated to a higher level, thanks in part to Korea’s New Southern Policy (NSP). While Korea remains the fifth largest trading partner of the Philippines, negotiations for a bilateral Free Trade Agreement is now ongoing. This FTA is expected to further strengthen economic ties between the two countries. Meanwhile, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, people-to-people exchanges had been steadily increasing, with around two million Koreans visiting the Philippines and around 500,000 Filipinos visiting Korea in 2019.
The challenges brought by this pandemic have yet to come to an end. But as the saying goes, a friend in need is a friend indeed. During these difficult times, Korea has been extending a helping hand to the Philippines by sharing essential supplies to fight against the pandemic, thereby standing together with its long-time partner.
I believe we all can and will prevail over this pandemic, making 2021 a year of healing and recovery. As we together overcome this crisis, the friendship and partnership between Seoul and Manila will become deeper and stronger post-COVID-19. The Korean Embassy in the Philippines will continue to spare no effort to further this relationship, especially with the NSP Plus strategy. We also look forward to your continued cooperation and support to this endeavor.