Philippine Consulate General Celebrates 60 years of Service in Vancouver
1 June 2016 – To celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the Consulate, the very first Philippine foreign service post in Canada, the Philippine Consulate General in Vancouver hosted a reception on 31 May 2016 at the World Trade Center Office Complex at Canada Place.
The Consulate in Vancouver served as the Philippines’ first diplomatic and consular office covering the whole of Canada until the establishment of the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa in 1971.
In her address as guest of honor, Philippine Ambassador to Canada, H.E. Petronila P. Garcia, traced the history of the Consulate and the impetus behind its establishment. Climate, transportation and communication challenges attended the arrival of the Philippines’ trailblazing diplomats in the early years of the consular office in the mid-50’s. Friendlier immigration policies and technological advancements since then have made Canada a more hospitable destination for Filipinos. Today, a fully-staffed and fully-functioning Embassy in Ottawa and Consulates General in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver deliver wide-ranging labor-related and consular services, including dual citizenship, overseas voting and assistance to nationals, in addition to promoting trade, investment and tourism.
Ambassador Garcia assured the audience that the Philippine foreign service corps are constantly upgrading its competencies, logistics and facilities to better serve the Filipino-Canadian community. “Indeed, much has happened over the last sixty years, and countless lessons have been learned. We are stronger and better from all the experience. It is my wish that these years of living, learning and experiencing would have brought us closer as a people and as one, cohesive community,” she concluded.
The presence of the descendants of the Consulate’s “First Family”—the children of the first Consul and then Consul General, the late Gauttier F. Bisnar, who led the establishment of the consular office in 1956, magnified the historical significance of the occasion. Messrs. Oscar, Edgar and Gauttier F. Bisnar, Jr. thanked the Consulate for honoring their father and shared old photographs which were exhibited during the event.
Minister Teresa Wat, Minister of International Trade and Minister Responsible for Asia Pacific Strategy and Multiculturalism, and Minister Amrik Virk, Minister of Technology, Innovation, and Citizens’ Services, both representing the Government of British Columbia, congratulated the Consulate for achieving this major milestone, and wished the office more success.
Ms. Mable Elmore, MLA for Vancouver-Kensington, likewise, applauded the Consulate for its achievements in administering long and uninterrupted service to the Filipino-Canadian community.
Consul General Neil Frank R. Ferrer, for his part, expressed his gratitude for the warm welcome and support rendered to the Consulate by the Government of Canada, particularly the Government of British Columbia, during the past six decades. He underlined the significant role of the Consulate in maintaining and sustaining the harmonious relationship between the Philippines and Canada. Consul General Ferrer pointed to the opening of the BC Government’s trade and investment office in Manila, the provincial government’s first and only office in the ASEAN region, as a demonstration of the strong rapport between the Philippines and Canada as well as a manifestation of the latter’s confidence in the economies of ASEAN, particularly the Philippines.
Consul General Ferrer also thanked the Filipino pioneers, who settled in Canada in the 1950-60s, for their unwavering affirmation of the Filipino identity and history amidst a multi-cultural and diverse environment.
During the reception, Mr. Ed Araquel, a Filipino-Canadian multi-media fine artist, whose body of work spans over 50 years and two continents, donated to the Consulate a painting entitled, “Mt. Mayon”. Mr. Araquel is among the featured artists in the ongoing Harana art exhibit, which constitutes part of a series of events commemorating the Consulate’s 60th anniversary.
Ms. Joey Albert, herself a pioneering Original Pilipino Music (OPM) artist, and Mr. Jeremiah Carag, a Filipino-Canadian tenor, regaled the audience with original Filipino songs. END
The Philippine Consulate General is located at the World Trade Center Office Complex, 999 Canada Place, Suite 660 Vancouver, B.C. V6C 3E1
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