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Philippines celebrates 101 years of independence

By: Marie W. Conway

Date Posted: 1999-07-03

Although the Philippines celebrates its independence on June 12, the Filipino Community in the Ryukyu Islands (FILCOMRI) and the Filipino Consulate decided to change the rules a touch recently and postpone the celebration until the 26th, to enable guest speaker, Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles of the Republic of the Philippines, to attend.

Every year FILCOMRI invites the Ambassador to speak at the independence celebration. Ambassador Arguelles’ foreign service career began in 1965 in Tokyo and now upon his return he is working again in Tokyo, for the Embassy of the Philippines.

Since the Philippines won independence in 1898, the country has made much progress economically and politically. Japan is the Philippines second largest trading partner, with over $7 billion worth of goods imported and exported between the two countries. The Philippines’ biggest export is electronic parts, such as semi conductors, while in the agricultural field, they export pineapples and bananas. In fact more than 60 percent of the bananas sold in Japan are imported from the Philippines.

Ambassador Arguelles stated, “I hope that more Japanese investors will consider locating their manufacturing plants in the Philippines, because we have competitive wages in the Asian market. Also, everyone speaks English in the Philippines and they are highly skilled laborers.”

Ambassador Arguelles added that the Philippines and Japan have a stable and friendly relationship both politically and economically. He also said he wants to reduce the trade imbalance which sees the Philippines import $2 billion more than they export to Japan. When asked what he would like to see accomplished at next year’s G8 summit in Nago, he said he hopes the economically strong countries will open more of their markets to less developed countries.

As for tourism in the Philippines, the majority of the tourists are from the U.S., with those from Japan running a close second. One of the goals of the Philippine Consulate is to inform Okinawans about opportunities in the Philippines and increase travel there. Of the 130,000 Filipinos currently living in Japan, 2,000 reside here in Okinawa. Of those 2,000, approximately 280 families belong to the FILCOMRI organization. Additionally, the goals of both the Embassy in Tokyo and the Consulate in Okinawa are to strengthen relations, increase trade and economic ties, and assist those Filipinos working and living in Japan.

For further information, please contact the office of the Honorary Philippine Consul General Asako Alarcon at 892-5486. Consulate hours are from 1p.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. Closed on Japanese holidays. Directions: Head south on Highway 330 past the entrances to Camp Foster’s Legion Gate and Ft. Buckner’s gate. Just past Futenma Housing Gate 7, you’ll come to a traffic light. Take a left there and the Consulate will be on your right.

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