75 years of US-Philippine friendship
On July 4, 1946, President Manuel Roxas and US High Commissioner Paul McNutt signed the Treaty of Manila, establishing the independence of the Republic of the Philippines. The document touted “the unity of American and Philippine ideals” and heralded a “new era of the two Governments and peoples…bound as closely as ever by ties of friendship and mutual trust.” In his Philippine Independence Day message last month, President Biden reaffirmed this connection, saying, “Our people are forever connected through our deep bonds and shared sacrifices of valor, of family and of friendship.”
These shared ideals were lyrically expressed 245 years ago in another Declaration, which proclaimed the inalienable rights, freedom and equality of all persons. Our two democracies continue to be guided by this “unity of ideals” as we strive to fulfill those lofty goals and ensure prosperity, security and opportunity for all. This Independence Day, I am heartened by the examples set by so many individuals in both countries whose efforts and accomplishments vividly embody those principles.
Both our nations celebrate and reward creativity, hard work and entrepreneurial spirit. This is exemplified by the brilliance and ingenuity of tech executive Dr. Dan Lachica who, after making his career in Silicon Valley, returned to the Philippines to help build a cutting-edge semiconductor industry back home. We see it in Fil-Am chef and Kora Bakery co-founder Kimberly Camara, whose desserts, inspired by Camara’s memories of cooking with her lola, now delight New Yorkers with Filipino flavors.
A further testament to our shared democratic principles are the growing ranks of Filipino-American leaders elected and appointed to public office in the United States. We are delighted when outstanding Filipinos find their experiences in the US of value to their endeavors here, such as Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto, who was recently recognized by the US State Department as one of 12 International Anticorruption Champions. Mayor Sotto was a 2018 Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative Professional Fellow, through which he completed a professional residency in the United States at the Iowa Public Information Board, helping inform his impressive anti-corruption initiatives.
Justifiably renowned are the histories of bravery and sacrifice of Filipinos and Americans who fought side by side for freedom eight decades ago. Yet our defense ties are no mere relic of history. Year after year, our armed forces grow stronger, closer and more interoperable through joint training and exercises. The US military is further enriched by the contributions of Filipino-American service members such as Char McGinnis, recently promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force. Her promotion ceremony was held aboard the USS Missouri, the site of the Japanese surrender that ended World War II, in honor of her Filipino grandfather, a veteran of that conflict.
Those profound historic roots are constantly nourished by robust ongoing educational and scientific cooperation – investments to ensure our relationship continues flourishing in the future. We are excited by the successes of talented young people like Filipino scholar Farrell Eldrian Wu, who recently graduated from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a perfect 5.0 GPA, and Fil-Am NASA engineer Gregorio Villar III, whose work helped ensure the safe landing of the NASA Perseverance rover on the surface of Mars. The more than four million Filipinos in the USA, and more than 350,000 Americans living in the Philippines, knit our countries ever closer together and show that our peoples, literally and figuratively, are one family.
The US-Philippine relationship is indeed “Thriving at 75.” These deep bonds and shared ideals give me confidence that, for generations to come, the United States and the Philippines will be “bound as closely as ever by ties of friendship and mutual trust.” Para sa mas matibay na samahan!
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John Law is Chargé d’Affaires of the US Embassy in Manila.