Welcome and Aloha Consul General Fernandez, We Wish You Much Success

As many Filipino organizations and the U.S. government at all levels (federal, state and county), the Hawaii Filipino Chronicle has had a long working relationship with the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu.

Just last May given that vaccines were rolling out in our state, many Filipino-Americans in Hawaii were contemplating if it would be safe to go to the Philippines for summer to visit family and friends.

We did a cover story informing our community that only a select group of people would be allowed to travel to the Philippines at that time, in accordance with the Philippine Bureau of Immigration’s latest Travel Advisory.

We worked with the Consulate staff to relay to our community accurate, timely information on travel and ongoing safeguards implemented by the Philippine government at the time.

Andrea Christina Caymo, vice consul, Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu, said then, “Due to the high number of active cases in the Philippines, travelers are advised to defer their travel to the country.”

In the following month, June 2021, we worked with the Philippine Consulate General once again by helping to promote their second annual Filipino Food Week.

Caymo told HFC, “As the official representative of the Philippine government in Hawaii, it is the mandate of the Consulate to promote Filipino culture and cuisine. By organizing Filipino Food Week, it is able to help showcase the rich culinary diversity of the Philippines, and at the same time, promote ingredients and products made from the country.”

2021 was the 75th year of the establishment of the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States. So the theme of Filipino Food Week — ways Filipino cuisine has enriched Hawaii’s culinary landscape — was in part in commemoration of the two countries relationship over decades, which could be characterized as one of goodwill and cooperation.

Besides promoting our ancestral culinary dishes to mainstream Hawaii, clearly a project such as Filipino Food Week also had as a goal to bolster potential business between Philippine-based companies involved in exporting Filipino food products and ingredients and Hawaii restaurants and eateries.

Strengthening US-Philippine business relations and trade actually is one area that newly appointed Consul General Fernandez said he would like to accomplish here.

“I have a special interest in economics as I took my doctorate and MBA in Tokyo and I also had my master’s in Public Policy at the University of the Philippines. I know that this will help me with my work in Hawaii and is good for our country,” Fernandez said.

He mentioned improving consular services, promoting COVID-19 vaccination and encouraging Filipinos who are qualified to vote in Philippines elections to register to vote and cast their ballot.

No doubt Consul General Fernandez is assuming this very important post at perhaps one of the most challenging times. The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs must have full confidence that he is the right career diplomat with the skills, knowledge and experience to be successful here.

We trust that the DFA made the right selection and we look forward to working with Fernandez and consular staff during his tenure.

As the new head of the Consulate General in Honolulu, Fernandez joins a group of stellar diplomats who’ve helped to shape, build and move forward our local Filipino community. The Philippine Consulate here was established in 1948, even before Hawaii became a state on Aug 21, 1959.

From Modesto Farolan in the 1940s to Fernandez’s predecessor Joselito Jimeno (2018-2021), consul generals have not only provided services to Philippine nationals, dual citizens, immigrants in transition of becoming permanent U.S. residents and U.S. citizens, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and visitors, but Consulate leaders maintained healthy and productive relations with U.S. government officials, our local Filipino community and organizations.

The names of past consul generals like Juan Dionisio, Trinidad Alconcel, Tomas Gomez III, Solita Aguirre, among many others, are well known to our community.

So is it also familiar to many of us the beautiful colonial white palace-like Consulate with expansive lawn and roads– a location that has played host to countless events over decades.

Before the construction of the FilCom Center, there was the Philippine Consulate in Nuuanu that was the symbolic center of our local Filipino community, even though it belonged to the Philippine government.

Our legacy
A close, tight-knit bond, mutual respect, mutual confidence in each other, professional working relationship, and family – these are all fitting descriptions of the relationship between the Philippine Consulate General in Honolulu and our community.

Our special relationship is an institutional legacy that former consul generals and our local leaders have established and passed down in a line of continuity. This legacy is what Fernandez has inherited, and hopefully, will leave behind intact and solid for his successor.

We welcome you Consul General Fernandez with open hearts and open minds. We wish you much success in your new leadership role.

Let’s all work together to minimize the effects of the worldwide pandemic, open doors for economic opportunities, preserve our culture, traditions and sense of Filipino identity.

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