TOKYO – In a historic moment, Mylene Garcia-Albano, the Philippines’ first woman Ambassador to Japan, set the stage for diplomacy by hosting her inaugural diplomatic reception at the Fuji Room of Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel. The event, held on June 12, marked a significant celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence.
The event, attended by approximately 400 guests, took place in the presence of Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan-Philippines Parliamentary Friendship League (JPPFL) Chairman Hiroshi Moriyama, Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Southeast and Southwest Asian Affairs Department Director-General Yutaka Arima, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) President Yamakawa Hiroshi, as well as various Japanese government officials, members of the Diplomatic Corps, representatives from the business sector, the academe, and the media.
The theme of this year’s celebration was “Kalayaan 2023: Kalayaan. Kinabukasan. Kasaysayan” or “Freedom. Future. History.”
In her speech, Garcia-Albano emphasized the significance of fostering relations with Japan for “a future-ready Philippines, a country that is responsive to the needs of our people, resilient to the shocks in our dynamic international environment, and ready to face the challenges of the future.”
“In pursuit of these goals, our partnership with Japan is crucial,” she stated.
Garcia-Albano mentioned that the Philippines and Japan are commemorating the 67th year of the normalization of ties between the two countries.
She highlighted the significant progress achieved in the partnership between the Philippines and Japan across various sectors, including trade and investment, defense, security, and maritime cooperation. Additionally, she mentioned the positive developments in critical infrastructure and advanced technology that contribute to economic security and resilience.
The ambassador emphasized the strengthening of people-to-people ties between the two nations, with more than 300,000 Filipinos currently living and working in Japan. She expressed gratitude to the Japanese government and people for their continuous partnership with the Philippine Embassy and Consulates General in Nagoya and Osaka, aimed at promoting the well-being of Filipino nationals.
She also mentioned that two-way tourism has been gaining momentum in the post-pandemic period.
“We are currently working to revitalize various cultural programs and platforms, and hope to bring to Japan more of our artists, performance, cuisine, films, fashion, and the like,” she said.
Addressing the business community present at the reception, the ambassador extended greetings and highlighted the importance of continued engagement between the Philippines and Japan. She emphasized Japan’s status as one of the Philippines’ most significant trading and foreign investment partners, and urged further expansion of cooperation opportunities with Japanese counterparts to enhance the robustness of the partnership.
Meanwhile, in his address, Hayashi praised the deepened cooperation between the Philippines and Japan in the realms of security and the economy throughout the years. He expressed his desire for increased exchanges and interactions between the peoples of both countries, particularly as Japan commemorates the 120th Anniversary of the first Japanese immigration to the Philippines in 1903. He concluded his speech with a special prayer for the continued peace and prosperity of the Philippines, as well as the further strengthening of Japan-Philippines relations.
On the other hand, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s message, which was read by Arima, emphasized the Japanese premier’s commitment to “heart-to-heart dialogue” to enhance Japan-Philippines relations in all aspects of security, the economy, and cultural exchange, towards the realization of the two countries' shared aspirations for a “Free and Open Indo Pacific.”
During the reception, a message from Senator Loren Legarda, commemorating Philippine Independence Day, was also shared. She acknowledged the Embassy’s and the ambassador’s dedication to strengthening Philippines-Japan relations and promoting the country’s rich culture and heritage. The senator extended greetings to the Filipinos present, recognizing their unwavering resilience and invaluable contributions to the growth of the Philippine economy.
The well-attended gathering presented an exceptional opportunity for guests to immerse themselves in the enthralling aspects of Philippine history, heritage, culture, cuisine, products, and tourist destinations. - Florenda Corpuz