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Dinner with Roberto Romulo

Republika

BalikBayani République | Tony Alabastro

Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) regards former ambassador and Foreign Secretary Roberto Romulo, 83, as DFA’s father of institutional economic diplomacy.


“A visionary diplomat… who had Philippine interests at heart while serving the country as ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg and the Euro-pean Union Institutions, and later as secretary of foreign affairs,” DFA says.


Appointing Romulo, among her most experienced cabinet members, as DFA secretary, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo says “from a domestic helper (Executive Secretary to Secretary of Foreign Affairs), he is now an OFW (overseas Filipino worker).”


Six months later, Romulo, on his way to the Brunei international airport, told dinner guests: “This gathering tonight represents the best and the most outstanding that can be gathered under one roof. This reminds me of what the late John F. Kennedy said, ‘Never have so many outstanding and talented citizens since Thomas Jefferson sat alone in this room.’ I feel the same way.


“I am deeply delighted to have this wonderful opportunity of being with you and telling you personally how much your services are appreciated here. His Majesty the Sultan, His Royal Highness the Crown Prince, and His Royal Highness the Foreign Minister have expressed their praise for the valuable contribution of the more than 18,000 Filipinos in Brunei Darussalam to the society of Brunei. I have learned with great pride about how you have made yourselves a significant and dispensable part of the lives of the people of Brunei,” Romulo said.


“It is a world where there are seven million Filipinos in other lands – 10 percent of our population. We may not be a global power but we have a global presence. The Filipino is an active contributor to the economies of the Americas, the Middle East, Latin America, Asia, Europe and parts of Africa. It can be said that the Filipino has become a citizen of the world,” he said.


Romulo presented Certificates of Recognition to three OFWS: Ibarra Caballes and Reynaldo Pintor for honesty; and Dr. Joey Santos, outstanding educator.


Dinner host Ambassador Virginia H. Benavidez prepared steamed fish with spinach, whole meal pita bread with chicken and yoghurt, pesto stuffed mushroom caps and basked pastas with smoked turkey.


Chely Diaz and Roberto Rubiller served Ang Bahay guests tomato miso soup, with bits of dried squid, served in halved coconut shells, and fro-zen balloon, a 22-hour freezer wonder containing red dragon fruit, and green kiwi slices and green grape orbs.


Philippines has 38 years of diplomatic relations with Brunei. On Brunei’s 1984 New Year’s Independence Day, the two-storey Philippine Consulate General hilltop structure on Jala Kota Batu was upgraded to Philippine Embassy status.


The Multipurpose Hall beside the nipa hut-inspired Philippine Embassy Chancery in Brunei’s Diplomatic Enclave was recently completed, said Marian Jocelyn Tirol-Ignacio, 11th and second woman ambassador to this oil-rich kingdom hosting 20,233 OFWs.


Seven Philippine presidents from Marcos to Duterte had visited Brunei, connected by pre-pandemic Philippine Airlines, AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and Royal Brunei.


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