Outreach goes to Wales, Northern Ireland
An embassy team led by Ambassador and Mrs. Cesar B. Bautista
visited Merthyr Tydfil in Wales on March 8, and Belfast in Northern
Ireland on March 15 and 16.
The visits were part of the continuing Outreach
Programme of the Philippine Embassy, whose aim is to bring the Embassy’s
services and information campaign to wherever there are Filipino
communities. Making contact with prospective British partners in trade and
investments, and attracting visitors to the Philippines, is also part of
the programme’s objectives.
Embassy Outreach Team and the joint delegation of the Knights of Rizal and
Maclariz on their way to Merthyr Tydfil
Merthyr Tydfil, Wales. The visit to
Merthyl Tydfil involved the participation of the UK chapter of the Knights
of Rizal and Maclariz, led by Knight Commander Barry Bowman and Ana
Bowman, respectively, and was highlighted by the KoR’s donation to the
Welsh community of a bronze bust of Dr. Jose Rizal as well as copies of
the Philippine national hero’s books.
The Outreach team was welcomed at the Merthyr Civic
Centre by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Roy Thomas, his wife and daughter,
and other members of the Council. A number of key Filipino community
leaders living in South Wales who had helped organize the event were also
present. Among them were Amy Moore and Milagros Ball of Swansea; Pilar
Morris, Linda Ebio and Ding Abalos, a Filipino nurse who is also president
of the Multicultural Association based in Merthyr county; and Mr. and Mrs.
Melecio Maalat who are engineers in an IT company.
In his welcome statement, the Lord Mayor acknowledged
the fast growth of the Filipino community and its positive contribution to
the town, as underscored by the arrival of 35 Filipino nurses working for
the nearby NHS Trust. The other Councillors who spoke echoed the Mayor’s
sentiments. Ambassador Bautista thanked the Lord Mayor for the town’s
warm welcome to the nurses and the Outreach team. He also encouraged
members of the Filipino community to contact the Embassy if they needed
assistance, by telephone, fax, e-mail, text messaging, writing, or
accessing the website.
Mayor Roy Thomas and his wife and daughter with Ambassador & Mrs.
Bautista, Barry & Ana Bowman, Aurea Taguiang, and Lailah Rothery
Knight of Rizal commander Barry Bowman presented the
bronze bust and the books of Dr. Jose Rizal to the Lord Mayor. Mr. Bowman,
in his presentation speech, remarked at the “lovely coincidence” that
the two contributions of the Filipino people to Merthyr Tydfil were
connected with healthcare - the services of the Filipino nurses, and the
works of a Filipino doctor, Jose Rizal. He also noted that the word “merthyr”
referred to “martyr”, which was how the Filipino national hero was
regarded by his people.
After feasting on Filipino food prepared by the members
of the community, both hosts and guests were treated to a brief cultural
program featuring dances by a group of young Anglo-Filipino ladies, and
Tagalog folk songs rendered by guitar-playing Knight of Rizal Phil
Bowman and Mayor Roy Thomas during the simple rites marking the
presentation of the bust of Dr. Jose Rizal
The Outreach visit to Merthyr Tydfil drew attention to
the growing presence of Filipinos in this part of Wales. The arrival of
Filipino nurses in the past two years have made Filipinos more visible and
indeed welcome to the Welsh, particularly since the nurses care for the
sick and the elderly. Based on estimates by the Filipino community
leaders, there are now an estimated 1,000 Filipinos in Wales, 700 of whom
are nurses. About 75% of these nurses work for NHS trusts in the cities,
while 25% work for private nursing homes in the countryside.
Joining Ambassador and Mrs. Bautista on this Outreach
visit to Wales were Minister and Consul General Mario de Leon and Mrs.
Eleanor de Leon, Tourism Attaché Bernadette Lazaro, Labour Attaché
Vicente Manzano, Cultural Attaché Ma. Luisa Ramos and Bobby Ramos, and
Information Officer Ed Maranan.
Other members of the Knights of Rizal and
Maclariz who joined the trip were Charles and Ester Gabula, Michael and
Lahlia Rothery, Phillip and Betty Williams, Alfonso and Aurea Taguiang,
Cesar Caraon, Lita Manelli, Allan Reilly, Dolly Baker, and Isabel Cooper.
The Rizal books donated by the KoR-UK chapter were: Noli Me Tangere, El
Filibusterismo, Miscellaneous Correspondence of Rizal, Miscellaneous
Writings of Rizal, Rizal-Blumentritt Correspondence vols. 1 & 2, Mi
Ultimo Adios in foreign and local translations vols. 1 & 2.
Belfast, Northern Ireland. The Outreach
visit to Northern Ireland, the first ever by a Philippine ambassador to
the UK, took place on March 15 and 16. The Embassy team was led by
Ambassador and Mrs. Cesar Bautista, and included Minister and Consul
General Mario de Leon, Labour Attaché Vicente Manzano, and Philippine
Honorary Consul John Ferris, who is based in Dublin, Republic of Ireland.
The team met with local government authorities, members of the Filipino
community, as well as newly arrived nurses and their employers.
nurses at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast are shown with Ambassador
Cesar B. Bautista, Consul General Mario de Leon, Labour Attaché
Vicente Manzano, and Philippine Honorary Consul John Ferris
They called on Mr. Clive Gowdy, Permanent Secretary of
the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety of Northern
Ireland. Mr. Gowdy expressed appreciation for the quality of service,
excellent skills, and cultural adaptability of the Filipino nurses working
in Northern Ireland. There are now more than 600 Filipino nurses there,
most of whom are employed in the Belfast area, half with NHS Trusts and
the rest in private nursing homes.
Ambassador Bautista discussed some of the problems
faced by Filipino nurses in the UK, especially in nursing homes. He
suggested narrowing the “gaps in the recruitment guidelines” of the UK
and the Philippines to help solve problems concerning employment contracts
and the adaptation period for nurses. Among his suggestions for their
welfare were: free accommodation for a few months and proper orientation
on withholding taxes, national insurance, and social benefits. Mr. Gowdy
took note of Ambassador Bautista’s suggestions and promised to bring
these to the attention of his Department.
Bautista with Lord Mayor Jim Rodgers of Belfast
The Outreach Team also called on William Stevenson,
political officer of the Northern Ireland Office, who gave a briefing on
the peace process; and the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Jim Rodgers.
During the visit to the Mayor’s office, the Ambassador was joined by key
members of the Filipino community: Esther Galway and Eva McKelvey of the
Northern Ireland Filipino Association (NIFA); Michael Boyle, a community
volunteer for Filipino nurses; and two Filipino nurses.
Outreach team is welcomed by community leader Esther Galway and
Redemptorist priest Fr. Patrick O’Connell during the reception
The team had a dialogue with Filipino nurses at the
Royal Victoria Hospital, the Landsdowne Nursing Home in Greater Belfast,
and at a reception held at thee Clonard Monastery in West Belfast,
organized by NIFA and the Redemptorist Order led by Fr. Patrick O’Connel.
At these meetings, Ambassador Bautista discussed with members of the
Filipino community the major activities and projects of the Embassy, such
as efforts to win greater Awareness, Respect and Cooperation (ARC) for the
Filipinos in the United Kingdom, as well as the role of the community,
including the nurses, in these activities.
the Clonard Monastery of the Redemptorist Order, where the team met with
the Filipino community. At left is Fr. Patrick O’Connell, one of the
priests actively providing support to Filipino nurses in all of Ireland
The Ambassador’s group was treated to lunch by the Chaplains
of the Redemptorist Order. Many of these Irish chaplains served as
missionaries in the Philippines during their younger days, some staying
for as long as 30 years in Cebu, Iloilo, Tacloban, and places in Mindanao.
The team was later given a tour of the Assembly building in Stormont by
Cedric Wilson, leader of the Northern Ireland Unionist Party.
the site of the Northern Ireland peace process: Ambassador & Mrs.
Bautista, Consul General de Leon and Atty. Manzano in front of the
assembly building, the Stormont
Though brief and hectic, the Outreach visit to Belfast exceeded the
expectations of the team. It was the first such activity in Northern
Ireland conducted by the Embassy since the establishment of the Philippine
mission in London in 1947. The fast growth of the Filipino community in
the region, as well as the enthusiastic welcome shown by the community to
the Ambassador and his team, have given the Embassy a renewed impetus in
its goal of promoting greater ARC for the Filipinos in the United Kingdom.
(from a field report by Consul General Mario de