MANILA — Two Pinoys were honored for their achievements and contributions in raising the Philippines’ profile in the United States.
Dr. Conrado Gempesaw, president of St. John’s University and the first layperson to lead the Catholic university, and Rear Admiral Babette Bolivar, one of the highest-ranking Filipino-Americans in the US Navy, received awards for their contributions on June 11, in commemoration of the country’s 117th Independence Day.
“There is much to celebrate in terms of developments in the country, and this year’s Independence Day celebration is an opportunity to reflect on what the Philippines has achieved,” said Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., during the Embassy’s Vin d’Honneur at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.
Dr. Conrado Gempesaw (Handout)
The Philippine embassy presented Dr. Gempesaw with a plaque of achievement for his commitment to promoting quality education for all. Through Dr. Gempesaw’s vision and leadership, he pushed academic initiatives that advocate inclusiveness in higher learning.
Rear Admiral Babette Bolivar received a plaque for her excellence and meritorious conduct in exercising military command, and for inspiring men and women in uniform. She is the Filipino-American with the highest naval commissioned officer ranking.
Rear Admiral Babette Bolivar (Handout)
The Vin d’Honneur was also a celebration of the strong ties between the Philippines and the United States.
“The friendship between the Philippines and the US has deep historical roots, which include fighting side by side in wars for liberation. We are pleased that this friendship has continued to grow, with the US having the second largest tourism arrivals in the Philippines last year and the US consistently ranking as one of the top three trading partners of the Philippines for decades,” said Cuisia.
“The most personal aspect of our relationship, however, is the Filipino community in the US. With close to 3.4 million Filipinos, we represent the 4th largest immigrant group in the US,” he added.
Other dignitaries who attended the Vin d’Honneur were Philippine Senator Alan Peter Cayetano; Philippine Congressman Scott Davies Lanete; former US Senator Joseph Tydings; US Congressman and Co-Chair of the US-Philippines Friendship Caucus Robert Scott; US Congressman Bill Huizenga; Ambassador John Negroponte, Co-Chair of the US-Philippines Society; Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Department of State; Maj. Gen. Leslie Smith, representing US Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno; as well as Ambassadors and various dignitaries from the US Government and Washington diplomatic community.
PH design, textiles and fashion take centerstage
Aside from Filipino contributions to the US, Philippine design and textiles were also given recognition in a gala event.
The piña (pineapple fabric) took center stage with the Grand Dame of Philippine Fashion, Ms. Patis Tesoro, making her Washington debut at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on 11 June in commemoration of the 117th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence.
The Gala Event, which was sponsored by the US-Philippines Society, is a testament to the beauty of Philippine fashion, which is continuously getting international attention.
“Philippine fashion has earned world-class recognition, and the US-Philippines Society is pleased to sponsor this Gala as a way to share with you stunning examples of some truly innovative advances in design,” said Ambassador John Negroponte, co-chair of the Society.
In his remarks, Cuisia pointed out that since piña production is an age-old tradition in the Philippines, the evening was a celebration of the uniqueness and beauty the country has to offer.
“This Gala Evening is a fitting culmination of a month-long tribute to Philippine indigenous fabrics and the individuals who turn them into exquisite works of art. Piña has long been a symbol of elegance and sophistication, and in many ways is a celebration of the Filipino people’s innate creativity and dynamism in constantly changing times,” said Cuisia.
Also on display at the Ronald Reagan Building were signature pieces by multi-awarded furniture designer and manufacturer Kenneth Cobonpue.
Tesoro’s and Cobunpue’s pieces will be on exhibit and open to the public at The Gallery of the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center until July 15.