PRESIDENT Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. has called on Filipinos living in the United States and other nations to become “ambassadors” to help bring in more investments and tourists for the country’s economic recovery.
Marcos made the appeal while addressing the Filipino community at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in New Jersey, United States (US) last Sunday.
Over 1,500 Filipinos attended the event, which was the first of scheduled activities of Marcos during his six-day visit in the US this week.
After his speech, many in the enthusiastic audience swarmed the stage to get PBBM’s authograph, while First Lady Liza Araneta Marcos (in red dress) and son Rep. Sandro Marcos provide assistance. Joining him onstage are some of his Cabinet secretaries and Speaker Martin G. Romualdez.
In a live stream, Press Secretary Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles discussed the highlight of the speech, where the President invoked the spirit of “bayanihan” among the participants of the event.
“He urged Filipinos to invest, even in small businesses in the Philippines or to encourage a friend to visit the country. Tourism will be a big help in transforming the economy,” Angeles said in Filipino.
Marcos noted Filipinos overseas become “automatic ambassadors” since they help create a good impression of the country to foreigners.
“All of you, including caregiver, housekeepers, babysitter, others in the informal sector can do as much as our diplomats could by inviting your employers to visit the Philippines not just to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of our country and our people but also to explore possible trade investment opportunities there,” Marcos said.
The President said they could also help the country by investing not only in properties, but also in local businesses.
“This will all contribute to create much-needed jobs and build a better life for all our people. And if you know someone who is interested to open a business in the Philippines, let our embassies or our consulates know so we can pursue and finally close the deal. As I said, every little bit counts,” Marcos said.
Marcos thanked all the over 10 million Filipinos, who live abroad, for their continued support to the country by regularly sending billions of dollars worth of remittances to their loved ones.
Marcos urged them to strengthen their connections with the Philippines and thanked them for the various initiatives they have been undertaking back home from medical missions to scholarships to research work and drones for disaster assessment.
With 10 million kababayans all over the world, “as your President I understand and know fully well the significant impact of the Philippine diaspora on our motherland, especially in terms of supporting our post-pandemic economic recovery,” said Marcos.
Dollar remittances, he noted, “have in fact hit an all-time high of 34.88 billion dollars in 2021,” when the country was just starting to recover from the pandemic.
This sum “represents a 5.1 percent increase from the 33.19 billion dollars recorded in 2020,” added Marcos, and stressed that, “our kababayans here, kayo lang dito sa United States, halos 40 porsiyento ng remittance noong 2021 ay galing dito sa Amerika.” The observation was met with warm applause.
While the economy was “really down” 2020 and 2021, “when there were no jobs, and we were all on lockdowns,” the Filipinos in the US continued to think of helping their families and their country, he noted, speaking partly in Filipino.
“You set this record-breaking figure even when many of you were affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Maraming salamat sa inyo sa lahat ng ginagawa ninyo. Maraming salamat sa inyong remittance na ginagawa na para pagtulong sa ating ekonomiya,” the President added.
During his speech, Marcos also condoled with the Filipino community in New York, where at least 30 Filipino health care workers died due to Covid-19.
“I can promise you that this heroism of yours, of our ‘kababayans’ [countrymen] will not fade into obscurity. Their legacy we will make live on as they continue to inspire our kababayans to show the world what it means to truly be Filipino,” Marcos said.
In recognition of the valuable contribution of the Filipino community abroad, Marcos gave assurances that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) and Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) will continue to improve its services for them.
Marcos will be in the US from September 18 to 24 to participate in the 77th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and to also help attract more foreign investors.
Samuel P. Medenilla in Manila and Troi Santos in New York
Image credits: Troi Santos