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14 November 2018

Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez (right) and Dr. Rene R. Escalante (left) unveils the historical markers dedicating the Old Chancery of the Philippine Embassy as a Philippine National Historical Landmark at a ceremony held at the Embassy on 09 November 2018.

WASHINGTON, D.C. —"It is with great honor and a deep sense of responsibility that the Embassy accepts this solemn charge today of preserving the history, nationalism, and dignity that this building embodies for the people of the Philippines."

Thus declared Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose ManuelG. Romualdez at the formal ceremony on 9 November 2018 dedicating the Old Chancery of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. as a National Historical Landmark of the Philippines.

Two historical markers, one in Filipino and another in English, werealso unveiled at the ceremony.

"As a people with a deep sense of nostalgia, Filipinos will ever be mindful of the hard work of our forefathers that have taken us towhere we are today in 2018. We shall do what we can to protect and safeguard it with honor. And this building, this National Historical Landmark, no doubt, will constantly remind us of our sacred charge, and of our solemn responsibility," Ambassador Romualdez added.

Purchased in 1941, it was in the Old Chancery on 1617 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington D.C., where Resident Commissioners Joaquin M. Elizalde and Carlos P. Romulo presided over the transition of the Philippines from being a Commonwealth into an independent republic in 1946. For a time during World War II, the building was also the headquarters of the Philippine Commonwealth Government-in-Exile.

"Crucial meetings, such as war cabinet meetings, were held in this building. These gatherings were attended by President Manuel L. Quezon and Vice President Sergio Osmeña," Dr. Rene R. Escalante, Chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, told the audience in his remarks describing the history of the building.

After independence, the building then became the first Chancery of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. On 16 April 2018, it was declareda national historical landmark by the National Historical Commissionof the Philippines. A national historical landmark is defined as a site or structure that is associated with events or achievements significant to Philippine history.

"With its storied past, this building, no doubt, needs to be preserved and promoted as an important cultural property," Dr. Escalante noted at the end of his remarks.

In his remarks, Ambassador Romualdez also recalled the many milestones over the years not only in the fight for Philippine independence, but also in Philippines-US relations. In particular, he noted the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916 (Jones Law) and the Philippine Independence Act of 1934 (Tydings-McDuffie Law).

"This building clearly stands as eternal testament to the hard work, the persistence, and the commitment that all those who worked here -and even before that - put to bear on the great project of Philippine independence. And while adapted to suit Philippine culture, temperaments and realities, our modern day institutions, processes and exercises nonetheless continue to share the enduring tenets and principles of the United States," Ambassador Romualdez said.

"Sunday, November 11th is the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. In marking Armistice Day, now known here as Veterans Day, we remember not only the end of that war, but the beginnings of efforts to construct new global arrangements embodying the principle of ‘self-determination of peoples’. This is the point that connects events of 100 years ago to this building and the people who worked here on a mission to achieve self-determination and independence of the Philippines, with support from the government of the United States," Hank Hendrickson, Executive Director of the US-Philippines Society, also noted in his remarks.

Ambassador Romualdez likewise invited the audience to look back at thesignificance and value of all that has come to pass in order to understand that the relationship between our two countries will always be of manifest importance. And this was affirmed by Acting Director for Maritime Southeast Asia Manu Bhalla of the State Department's Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, who represented the US Government at the ceremony.

"The U.S.-Philippines alliance is strong to this very day.  Just as we stood together in World War II to combat forces fighting against liberty, we continue to stand – shoulder to shoulder – together now inthe global fight against terrorism.  As we strengthen and expand our broad relationship with the Philippines, we look forward to working together across the many areas of mutual interest to further strengthen our bonds," Director Bhalla said in his remarks.

The ceremony was attended by a diverse audience from the US government, US business community, academe, and the Filipino-American community. Special guests included the centenarian Mrs. Evangeline Paredes, former Personal Secretary of President Quezon when he was in exile in the United States; and Ivan Henares, former head of the Committee on Monuments and Sites of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

The unveiling of the historical markers was followed by a short program that featured a presentation from Dr. Escalante on the work of the NHCP, and the airing by Professor Erwin Tiongson of the Philippines on the Potomac Project, of a recording of the 1942 celebration of Commonwealth Day featuring speeches from Presidents Roosevelt (US), Quezon (Philippine Commonwealth) and Avila (Mexico). 

The ceremony was supported by the US-Philippines Society. Philippine Airlines was the official carrier of the historical markers from the Philippines to the United States.

The Old Philippine Chancery in Washington, D.C. is the second structure to be designated as a Philippine National Historical Landmark outside of the Philippines. The official residence of the Philippine Ambassador in Tokyo, Japan was declared a National Historical landmark in March 2013.   ###

14 November 2018

Ambassador Romualdez and Dr. Escalante signs the Certificate of Transfer and Acceptance of Historical Marker at the unveiling ceremony held at the Embassy on 09 November 2018.

14 November 2018

(L-R) Philippine Embassy Economic Minister Jose Victor Chan Gonzaga; Philippine Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Patrick Chuasoto; Ambassador Romualdez; Dr. Rene Escalante; and Chief of NHCP Research, Publications and Heraldry Division, Alvin Alcid pose for a group photo after the signing of certificate.

14 November 2018

DC Filipino-American community attends the unveiling ceremony of the historical markers at the Philippine Embassy on 09 November 2018.

14 November 2018

Acting Director for Maritime Southeast Asia Manu Bhalla (right) of the US State Department’s Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs represented the US government in the unveiling ceremony.

14 November 2018

Mrs. Evangeline Paredes, former Personal Secretary of President Quezon and Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez shares a light moment after the unveiling ceremony.

14 November 2018

Guests at the unveiling ceremony – (L-R) Former Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Manila, Philippines, Mr. Michael Klecheski;Former Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Ramon Cardenas; Ambassador Romualdez; and US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson.