Bonds beyond All Odds; (Speech before the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA) 6th Empowerment Congress by Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations Lauro L. Baja Jr. on September 10-12, 2004, Chicago, Illinois, United States)

Article excerpt

IT is always a challenge to speak in a luncheon meeting and compete for attention against good food and lively table conversation. But allow me to compete for a few minutes.

I have a great affinity for your association, the National Federation of Filipino American Associations, as well as your objectives, and programs. For indeed, I feel you are at the heart of my lifetime commitment as a member of the Philippine diplomatic service.

I wish, therefore, to pay tribute to the members and officers of this venerable association and to your founders whose vision remains relevant to current realities.

With pleasure, I noted from what I see here and have read that as an association you have gone a long way in generating active participation in all fields of endeavor, in contributing to the social, political, economic, and cultural life in the United States. Likewise, in civic activities community development, scholarships and youth assistance.

Not only in government and public service but in non-governmental civil society as well as in intergovernmental bodies like the United Nations, the Filipino American as you have made it to be, could be a veritable force for progress and development. You have shown it, among others, in your interventions to press for the passage of the Veterans Equity Bill, in your partnership for distressed Filipino nationals in various parts of this country, and in your drive towards a cultural community with emphasis on identity, education, and stewardship in the Filipino American Performing Arts.

In the United Nations, the Philippines has also achieved some success. After more than twenty years, the Philippines became a member in January this year of the United Nations Security Council, the most powerful organ of the United Nations. The massive mandate we received from member states 179 out of 181 present and voting is a recognition of the standing our country has in the international community even as it also presents a huge challenge for the Philippines.

Empowered to play a role in the Council, our participation has been competitive, constructive and substantive. Our presidency last June received international acclaim for its leadership and accomplishments. We shepherded the unanimous adoption of the resolution on Iraq which earned us the accolade of both Secretary General Kofi Annan and the members of the United Nations led by its President Julian Hunte for bringing back unity in the Council and multilateralism to the core of the Organization. …