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25 October 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Philippines will never forget the kind gesture of the Jewish Community for the helping hand extended to the Filipino people in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan last year, according to Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr.

“The Filipino people will always remember that during their time of need, the Jewish people came to their succor the same way we did when we opened our door to them to save them from Nazi persecution more than seven decades ago,” Ambassador Cuisia said in his remarks during the recent special screening of the documentary Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust at the Philippine Embassy.

In his remarks, Ambassador Cuisia extended his gratitude to leaders of the Jewish Community for immediately rushing to the assistance of the Philippines after Typhoon Haiyan struck the Central Visayas last year, killing more than 6,000 people and displacing millions.

Ambassador Cuisia cited the important role of the Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC), the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and other humanitarian organizations that provided food, shelter, clean water and sanitation to typhoon victims.

In addition to raising more than $1.3 million, Ambassador Cuisia said the JDC also assisted in search and rescue efforts and helped in the reconstruction of damaged buildings and in the restoration of water supply in affected areas. It also provided medical care to more than 2,800 typhoon victims, including 900 children.

Rescue was being screened at the United Nations on the night Typhoon Haiyan hit the Central Visayas and its producers immediately set up a relief fund that raised $130,000 in five days,” Ambassador Cuisia added.

“I believe this is the Jewish Community’s way of reciprocating our gesture of taking in 1,305 Jewish refugees during the Holocaust and for being the only Asian member-state of the United Nations that voted in favor of the creation of the State of Israel in 1947,” the Filipino envoy said.

“I am glad we were able to screen this film about a little-known story of the collaboration of Filipinos and Americans to offer Jews escaping the Nazi pogrom in Europe a safe haven when many other countries were turning them away,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

"Rescue" tells the story of how President Manuel Luis Quezon and five Jewish-American businessmen-brothers, the Frieders of Cincinnati, along with US High Commissioner Paul McNutt, Col. Dwight David Eisenhower and the Joint Jewish Distribution Committee, worked together to save a total of 1,305 Jewish refugees.

The film has been screened at the US Capitol, the United Nations, the Library of Congress, the Philadelphia Museum of American Jewish History, the American Jewish Archives and other venues in New York, California, Ohio, Montana, Texas, Maryland and Florida. On August 7, Rescue had its Manila premiere with no less than President Benigno Aquino III hosting the event at Malacañang Palace.

"Rescue" has also received positive reviews from the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Village Voice.

Present during the Embassy screening were Director Cynthia Scott; Executive Director Russ Hodge; Producers Peggy Ellis and Barbara Sasser; surviving Jewish refugees, including Ralph Preiss, and direct descendants of other refugees who fled to the Philippines.

Also present was Ruth Ephraim, widow of Frank Ephraim, author of "Escape to Manila," which served as the basis for the documentary. ###