Message of Israel’s Ambassador to the Philippines EFFIE BEN MATITYAU
We are celebrating our 70th birthday and some special jubilees representing the major milestones in our people-to-People and bilateral relations.
Israel is nicknamed today as “The Startup Nation” — an acknowledgement of our position in the world of hi-tech. However, the very creation of Israel can be regarded as a start-up enterprise, as it was built from scratch.
In 1918, exactly 100 years ago, WWI came to an end. The victors of the war are drawing territorial borders for future nation-states in the Middle East. Most of them will later evolve into Arab States.
One territory was an exception — the historical Holy Land, designated to become, once again, the homeland for the Jewish people. It was named “Palestine” and given to the British Empire as a mandate until 1948.
In 1918, the Jewish population of this territory is no more than 60,000 people — the size of a small town in the Philippines. Today, we are a nation of nine million people, among us, more than two million Arab citizens; together, representing one of the most advanced economies, a science-based society, and one of the biggest hubs of innovation in the world.
I must admit that we did have some good role models and inspiration in our past that you all know from the time of “Exodus” and one of the most prominent figures of all times, Moses… by all accounts, he was the first user of tablets. However, poor Moses, he was lost in the desert for 40 years for he did not have Waze, which was invented by Israelis 10 years ago. Waze is just one examples among so many other inventions affecting our daily life in every corner of the world.
So, this is our real story: more than 3,500 years of history, 100 years journey to statehood, 70 years of independence; from start to start-up nation.
In addition to our National Day, we also celebrate a number of jubilees: the first one is a great moral victory of the Philippines; 80 years ago, President Manuel Quezon established the Open Door policy, which was followed by the open hearts of the Filipinos.
As a result, 1,300 Jewish people were saved by this country from the Holocaust. 1,300 generations were born ever since. Among them, many generations of Filipino families, created by those refugees who decided to stay and call the Philippines home.
The descendants are making a real difference in this society and they are a great bridge of friendship between our countries and peoples. The Open Door policy is one of the main pillars in our relations ever since.
A second pillar in our relations was created on Nov. 29, 1947. It was, once again, another Manuel — President Manuel Roxas — who together with Vice President and Foreign Affairs Secretary Elpidio Quirino led the Philippines to a historic vote in the United Nations, leading to the formal creation of the State of Israel.
The noble acts of all these leaders laid the foundation of our friendship beyond politics, and the Philippines earned a grateful Jewish people.
This is the right occasion to say, on behalf of my country, “Thank you, Philippines!”
The last event in our jubilee celebrations took place 60 years ago when we signed our Friendship Treaty, friendship is indeed the marking of our relations; “Friends in need are friends indeed” is our way of cooperation, which among others, led our two countries to abolish visa requirements already back in 1969. You opened the gates and hearts to our people, we open our gates to you!
In recognition of great deeds and our shared history, the Embassy of Israel, together with the Quezon Family, the Roxas and Quirino Foundations, and the Government of Quezon City, are going to dedicate a special Friendship Monument at the Quezon Memorial Circle — the most symbolic of places.
Last, and not least, of our celebration today is personal. I am soon going to say goodbye as my tour of duty nears to its end.
Four years passed but I would like to tell with a big smile fitting this country that thanks to you, my resume was greatly enriched. First, as a professional model for senior citizens. Second, I’m an expert judge of beauty pageants, under the watchful eyes of my better half.
Third, I’m a well-trained selfie photographer in the selfie capital of the world.
I was also honored with a Doctor of Laws honoris causa from the Tarlac Agricultural University, which I will carry with pride.
But, the most enriching experience truly was your friendship. My dearest friends, because of you, we truly had a great and unforgettable tour of duty. We don’t know about you, but we are going to miss you. Maraming salamat po!
(From right) Ambassador of Israel Effie Ben Matityau, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary and Chief of Protocol Jerril Santos and Vice Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Ambassador of the Czech Republic Jaroslav Olša, Jr. offer a toast for the prosperity and well-being of the Filipino people and the friendship between Israel and the Philippines.
Singer-songwriter Ogie Alcasid steps up entertainment during the National Day event.