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Ambassador Jose Cuisia addresses members of the Filipino American community coming from the states of Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi at the Dixon Gardens in Memphis.

09 MAY 2012, MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE. Taking time off from his Memphis in May Festival commitments, Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. met with the Filipino American community in Tennessee today at the Dixon Gallery in Memphis.  The last Philippine ambassador who visited the Filipino American community members in the Volunteer State was Ambassador Emmanuel Pelaez.

Ambassador Cuisia spoke about a number of developments in the Philippines, including the recent skirmishes in the West Philippine Sea and the “2 Plus 2” Ministerial Consultations. He also relayed the progress that has been achieved in the Philippine economy, as reflected in the country’s credit rating upgrades and improvements in various competitiveness indices.  He urged those in attendance “to come together and establish (their) strength and influence in US society and public policy.”

A launch of the Pili nut also took place during the event.  According to Commercial Counselor Roseny Alvero, the rich soils of the Bicol Region gives the Pili nut its uniquely light but crispy texture as well as tremendous nutritional value.  With other trade promotion events to follow, the goal is to build an expanded and common recognition of a Philippine brand, the chosen Pili as a shining star from the Philippines just as the Macadamia nut is commonly branded to the state of Hawaii.

Tourism Director Vernie Morales, who is based in Chicago, provided a presentation on the Philippine tourism program.  She also announced that Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez will also be in Memphis to talk about the country’s new campaign, “It’s More Fun in the Philippines,” and invited Filipino Americans to attend the activities, which he will grace.

The well-attended townhall meeting was made even more special with the participation of several Philippine Consuls General, including Consul General Marciano Paynor, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, Consul General Mary Jo Bernardo-Aragon of the Philippine Consulate General in Los Angeles, and Consul General Mario de Leon, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in New York.  Also present were Mr. Jose Maria Carino of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ Cultural Diplomacy Unit, Agricultural Attache Joselyne Javelosa, and other Embassy officers.  Private sector representatives, who were part of the delegation, included National Competitiveness Co-Chair Guillermo Luz, Bank of the Philippine Islands President Aurelio Montinola III, and Architect Augusto Villalon, all of whom have speaking engagements during the Memphis in May Festival.

Representatives from the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. will also conduct a consular outreach on May 12 and 13 to service the consular needs of the public in Tennessee and nearby states, including the renewal of Philippine passports, legalization of documents, taking of the oath for those applying for dual citizenship, and registration of overseas absentee voters.

FILAMemphis, led by its President, Rolando Gersava, and the Chairman of the Central Coordinating Council, Dr. Lupo Carlota, led the organization of the affair.  According to the 2010 US Census, there are at least 14,000 Filipinos in Tennessee, which represents an increase of 85% in the number of Filipinos in the state since the last census was held in 2000.  (END)