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25 February 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Secretary of Foreign Affairs Albert F. del Rosario led the inauguration of the newly-renovated Chancery Annex of the Philippines at 1617 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. on 24 February 2016.

Secretary Del Rosario, who will be stepping down from office effective 07 March 2016, also took the opportunity to thank members of the Washington community at a reception hosted by the Philippine Embassy in recognition of his faithful service to the Philippines and the Filipino people.

Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. welcomed more than 120 guests, including Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI); Representative Robert “Bobby” Scott (D-VA); Representative Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU); State Department Counselor and former US Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney; Admiral Harry Harris, Jr., Commander of the US Pacific Command; Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Scher; Ambassador Scot Marciel, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary to the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, Department of State; Ambassador Peter Selfridge, US Chief of Protocol; and the Ambassadors of several countries.

Also present were Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Ambassador Lourdes O. Yparraguirre; Consul General Generoso D.L. Calonge (Chicago); Mario L. De Leon, Jr. (New York); Consul General Leo M. Herrera-Lim (Los Angeles); Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. (San Francisco); Deputy Consul General Edgar Tomas Q. Auxilian (Agana); and Deputy Consul General Roberto T. Bernardo (Honolulu).

“While the inauguration of this historic building is already a compelling reason to celebrate, our gathering tonight is made even more special as we pay tribute to a man for whom we hold the highest respect and admiration—the man that the Filipino people are privileged and proud to have as Secretary of Foreign Affairs—the Honorable Secretary Albert del Rosario,” said Ambassador Cuisia.

“The building we are inaugurating today is symbolic of our long history with the US. Just as this building endures, so do Philippines-US relations and so, too, shall Secretary Del Rosario’s legacy,” the Ambassador further stated.

According to State Department Counselor Kristie Kenney, it was through Secretary Del Rosario and Mrs. Gretchen Del Rosario that she “first came to know and love the warmth, the charm, the grace and the dignity of the Filipino people.”

In a letter addressed to Secretary Del Rosario and read by Counselor Kenney, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed pride in calling Secretary Del Rosario a “trusted colleague and a personal friend.”

“There’s simply no doubt that today’s close U.S.-Philippines relationship is thanks in large part to your sound judgment and strong commitment to diplomacy. Your steady leadership not only ensured the vitality of our countries’ friendship, it has also helped steer the course of events in the Philippines and around the world in the right direction,” Secretary Kerry wrote.

“As we live in an increasingly uncertain and complex world, the international community will need more statesmen like you. Thank you for being a tireless champion of U.S.-Philippines relations and, always, a true gentleman,” he added.

Senator Hirono likewise expressed appreciation for Secretary Del Rosario’s leadership and continuing commitment in view of the large Filipino population in the State of Hawaii and the growing importance of the Asia Pacific region in world affairs.

In response, Secretary Del Rosario thanked colleagues and partners in the Philippine and US Governments for contributing their time and effort in enhancing the ties between the Philippines and the United States. The Secretary also cited the highlights of the bilateral relationship, such as the gradual increase in US Foreign Military Financing for the Philippines; the inclusion of the Philippines in the Global Security Contingency Fund and the Partnership for Growth; and its selection as a recipient of a US$ 434 million grant under the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

“As I relinquish my position next month, I think about how we managed our partnership with the United States. Joey [referring to Ambassador Cuisia] and I ask ourselves whether we will leave the relationship in a better state now than when we began. Working with friends such as your good selves, we believe we can confidently say, ‘absolutely, but there will always be room to further enhance this relationship,’” Secretary Del Rosario stated.

“Even if it is our belief that Philippines-US relations have never been better, we must still persist in working together to further strengthen our alliance so that we can proactively, effectively, and strategically address our shared formidable challenges in the Asia Pacific region,” the Philippines’ top diplomat stressed.

The building that is currently known as the Chancery Annex was the first Embassy of the Philippines as a sovereign state. It served as the Office of the Resident Commissioner of the Philippines to the United States beginning in 1943 then as Chancery of the Embassy of the Philippines following Philippine independence and establishment of diplomatic relations with the US in 1946. It continued to be the Chancery until the Embassy moved to a new building at 1600 Massachusetts Avenue in 1995. Since then, the building had slowly degraded due to lack of use. After years of stalled plans, renovation finally went under way in 2015.

“During my stint as Ambassador, we had wanted to rehabilitate the building but we did not succeed. It is thus gratifying to see that a complete renovation had been done. I thus take this opportunity to congratulate Ambassador and Mrs. Cuisia for being so proactive, so hands on, and for their stick-to-itiveness in seeing this project through until its completion,” said Secretary Del Rosario.

The reception was held in a wide, high-ceilinged space on the second floor of the Chancery Annex. The guests enjoyed the entertainment provided by Filipino-American tenor Allan Palacios-Chan and the ethereal lighting emanating from chandeliers by celebrated Filipino furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue.

Prior to the reception, Secretary Del Rosario, Ambassador Cuisia, and Embassy personnel witnessed the blessing of the building presided by Monsignor Mariano Balbago, Jr. Secretary Del Rosario then unveiled the marker of the new building with the assistance of Mrs. Gretchen del Rosario, Ambassador Cuisia and Mrs. Maria Victoria Cuisia.

The inauguration concluded with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Secretary Del Rosario, Senator Hirono, Representative Bordallo, Counselor Kenney and Ambassador Cuisia. ###

25 February 2016

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario (2nd from right), US Senator Mazie Hirono (3rd from left), US Representative Madeleine Bordallo (2nd from left), USDepartment of State Counselor Kristie Kenney (1st from right), and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony to inaugurate the newly-renovated Chancery Annex of the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. on 24 February 2016.

25 February 2016

Secretary Del Rosario offers a toast for Philippines-US relations at the inauguration of the newly-renovated Chancery Annex of the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. on 24 February 2016.

25 February 2016

L-R: Representative Robert “Bobby Scott, Representative Madeleine Bordallo, Mrs. Gretchen del Rosario, Senator Mazie Hirono, Secretary Albert del Rosario, Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr., State Department Counselor Kristie Kenney, and Admiral Harry Harris, Jr.

25 February 2016

The Philippine Embassy presents two oil paintings—one of the Chancery Annex and the other of the Secretary—to Secretary Albert F. del Rosario as souvenirs of the inauguration of the newly-renovated Chancery Annex of the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C. on 24 February 2016.  In photo are Secretary and Mrs. Del Rosario, and Ambassador and Mrs. Cuisia.

25 February 2016

Façade of the newly-renovated Chancery Annex of the Embassy of the Philippines located at 1617 Massachusetts Ave. NW, Washington, D.C. (photo taken on 24 February 2016)