Olongapo SubicBay BatangGapo Newscenter

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Fil-Ams urged to give to Bayanihan Fund

AMBASSADOR Lauro Baja Jr., Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on Saturday exhorted the Filipino-American community in the United States to "join hands" with their compatriots in Manila and contribute to the Bayanihan Fund to avert the looming fiscal crisis in their native country.

Baja said the fiscal problem "presents a singular opportunity and challenge" to the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations (NaFFAA) to help the Philippines. "Senators and congressmen have agreed to renounce their pork, or part of it; the executive department has embarked on austerity measures; businessmen have come forward promising to pitch in, and religious organizations have taken notice of the crisis," Baja told the audience at the 6th Empowerment Congress of the NaFFAA in Chicago, Illinois.

"There is something truly wonderful happening back home. I see a resurgence of nationalism, of patriotism, of love of country. The sum total of these collective efforts will not by themselves solve the crisis but anything which comes from the heart and soul symbolizes cooperation, unity and empowerment-the vision of NaFFAA," he said.
House Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. had urged individuals and groups to contribute to the Bayanihan Fund to help ease the country's financial problems. He hit up businessmen traveling with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo during her recent state visit to China for P350 million in contributions.
The Department of Tourism and Metrobank have put up donation boxes in their offices and branches to collect contributions from their employees and clients. "I therefore call on NaFFAA to support the efforts of our kababayans (compatriots) back home and contribute to the Bayanihan Fund," Baja said in his speech, excerpts of which were e-mailed to reporters covering the foreign affairs beat.

It was not immediately known how the delegates to the conference reacted to his appeal.
In his speech, the ambassador also paid tribute to NaFFAA, which he said "has [come] long way" in contributing to the social, political, economic and cultural life of the United States.
"The Filipino-American as you have made [him] to be could be a veritable force for progress and development," he said.

Baja cited, for instance, the organization's efforts to press for the passage of the Veterans Equity Bill, its program for distressed Filipino nationals in various parts of the US, and its drive toward a cultural community with emphasis on identity, education and stewardship in the Filipino-American performing arts.

"It is my vision that your involvement in advocacy and legislative policy initiatives will continue to grow from strength to strength," he said.
"I look forward to the near future when more and more Filipino-Americans will be elected to political leadership positions and that from your ranks emanate a distinctly Filipino-American perspective on current and emerging issues of concern in foreign policy and national priorities," he added

Updated 05:21am (Mla time) Sept 13, 2004 By TJ BurgonioInquirer News Service Editor's Note: Published on page A2 of the Sept. 13, 2004 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer


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