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18 February 2016

LOS ANGELES, CA –  President Benigno S. Aquino III conferred the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Grand Cross (Datu) to Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. in recognition of the envoy’s “exemplary accomplishments in working for the advancement of the country’s national interests in its relations with the United States,” in a ceremony during the President’s engagement with the Filipino communities in Los Angeles and southwestern United States on Wednesday, 17 February.

The Order of Sikatuna is an order of diplomatic merit conferred upon individuals who have rendered exceptional and meritorious services to the Republic of the Philippines; upon diplomats, officials, and nationals of foreign states who have rendered conspicuous service in fostering, developing, and strengthening relations between their country and the Philippines; or upon personnel of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), both in the home office and in the foreign service. The Order of Sikatuna is one of the three senior honors of the Republic, the other two being the Philippine Legion of Honor and the Order of Lakandula,

“Alam po n’yo, talagang karamihan ho ng mga in-appoint nating mga ambassador ay tinatawag na career diplomat. Iilan po ang masasabi nating political appointees. Si Joey Cuisia ay isa sa ating mga in-appoint. Talagang ipinagmamalaki ko na in-appoint natin ang mga katulad ni Joey Cuisia,” President Aquino said in opening his speech addressed to the more than 800 members of the Filipino communities in southern California, southern Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

The President described the Ambassador, as well as other political appointees Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario and Philippine Ambassador to Japan Manuel Lopez as “self-starters,” who propose solutions to problems and are tireless in promoting the interest of the Philippine Government and Filipino people in their places of assignment.

Ambassador Cuisia was also commended “for his unrelenting efforts and dedication in facilitating increased trade, tourism, investment, and people-to-people exchanges between the Philippines and the United States.”

H.E. Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. was appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the United States by President Aquino III on 30 November 2010 and confirmed by the Commission on Appointments on 09 February 2011. He formally assumed his post at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. on 02 April 2011 and presented his credentials to US President Barack Obama on 07 July 2011.

Filipino community leader Dr. Marc Caratao offered his congratulations to Ambassador Cuisia, crediting the envoy for giving “guidance and advice to the Filipino American leaders [to] whom he is able to outreach”.

“Because of him, we are beginning to activate ourselves within the community,” Dr. Caratao said.

The award likewise cited Ambassador Cuisia for “spearheading and shepherding innovative programs such as the ground-breaking Filipino-American Youth Leadership Program (FYLPRO) and for strongly supporting the establishment of the Philippines-US Society.”

FYLPRO, established by the Ambassador and his wife, Maria Victoria in 2012, has been providing a transformative immersion experience for next-generation and high-performing Filipino-Americans who demonstrate leadership in their respective communities.

“He has really linked us all, a bunch of Fil-Am young leaders, but we’re a family in moving things forward. He really showed us that our hard work in all of our different corners of different communities, near and far, haven’t been in vain, that we are on the right track and that we have to keep the momentum alive,” Francine Maigue, FYLPRO Batch 1 (2012) said.

“We couldn’t be more inspired. We couldn’t be more proud of him,” Francine added.

Rynn Shumacher, FYLPRO Batch 3 (2014), stressed the importance of the program’s network in helping young leaders take on international initiatives.

“All of us can come together and the world is that small, that I can reach out to somebody in New York, or San Diego, everywhere, and we can make things happen. That’s what he started,” Rynn stated.

The US-Philippines Society, through its Co-Chairs John Negroponte and Manny Pangilinan, extended their congratulations to Ambassador Cuisia.

US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson further said, “Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. is recognized as one of the most energetic and effective diplomats on the Washington circuit. He has been a perfect representative of the Philippines under the Aquino Administration as it made impressive strides in good governance, economic growth and enhanced security over the past six years. Due in large part to Ambassador Cuisia, relations between the United States and the Philippines have never been better.”

“He was instrumental in the 2012 launch of the US-Philippines Society and has been an invaluable partner in sustaining the Society's work over the past four years. Thanks to Ambassador Cuisia's support, the Society has achieved a strong reputation and firm foundation for carrying out its mission in the years ahead,” Mr. Hendrickson added.

Ambassador Cuisia was joined by his family as he received the award from the President.

“I am humbled and greatly honored by this recognition. I sincerely thank President Aquino and Secretary Albert del Rosario for entrusting me with one of the most important diplomatic posts of our country. Without their trust and confidence, I would not have had the opportunity to further develop our alliance and partnership with the United States,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

The envoy also lauded the Filipino communities in the United States for their energy and resilience.

“Everywhere I go in this country, Americans and other foreigners would tell me their positive views about their Filipino colleagues, neighbors, friends and acquaintances. These testimonials make me proud to be your Ambassador and inspire the Philippine Embassy and Consulates in the US to ensure that we represent our country effectively,” he stated.

In his speech, Ambassador Cuisia took the opportunity to pay tribute to outgoing Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario.

“His principled leadership, unwavering dedication, and indefatigable energy have resulted in a re-energized Department anchored on a foreign policy that embraces the total protection of national interest,” the Ambassador said. ###

18 February 2016

President Benigno S. Aquino III confers the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Grand Cross (Datu) on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., on 17 February 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Also in photo is Mrs. Maria Victoria J. Cuisia (This photo is a screenshot of conferment ceremony video by RTVM).

18 February 2016

President Benigno S. Aquino III confers the Order of Sikatuna, with the rank of Grand Cross (Datu) on Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., on 17 February 2016 in Los Angeles, California. Joining them on stage are Mrs. Maria Victoria J. Cuisia and members of the Cuisia family.