Signalling her priorities for bilateral relations, Amb. Petronila P. Garcia reached out to Filipino community representatives from Ottawa and Montreal within days of her assumption of post as the Philippines’ top envoy to Canada.
At a ‘meet and greet’ activity on Aug. 29, at the Philippine Embassy in Ottawa, Ambassador Garcia laid bare her mission to build on the strong foundation of Filipino-Canadian friendship to expand existing cooperation between the Philippines and Canada while facilitating commercial ties between the two countries.
The ambassador recalled recent milestones in bilateral relations, such as the designation of the Philippines as a country of focus for Canadian development assistance and as priority market for trade, the high level exchanges including the visit of Prime Minister Stephen Harper to the Philippines in 2012, and how bilateral ties have been transformed over the years by Filipinos in Canada, now 660,000-strong.
Ambassador Garcia also called attention to important activities where community support will be productive such as Winter Escapade 2, Team Philippines-Canada’s flagship tourism project, the ongoing registration of Filipino overseas voters, and the campaign for Vigan to be named one of the Seven Wonder Cities of the World.
The ambassador seized the occasion to launch the Winter Escapade 2, a unique group tour which she herself will lead on Jan. 30 to Feb. 6 2015, in the islands of Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Bohol and Cebu. Riding on the success of the first Winter Escapade in January 2014, next year’s Winter Escapade eight-day, seven-night package is expected to attract hundreds of Filipino-Canadian and mainstream visitors as inquiries have been pouring in even before the launching of the tour. Throughout September, details of the tour package will be presented by the embassy and Philippine Consulates-General to various audiences across Canada.
The meet-and-greet likewise provided the opportunity for the blessing of the embassy’s new multi-purpose hall and showroom by Fr. Pedro Arana of the Assumption Church in Ottawa who also prayed for the success of the ambassador, her team and mission.
“I come to Canada at a time we are enjoying a renaissance in our relationship and the promise that our shared values will form the basis of creating value – for a better quality of life for all concerned. Let us make it so,” Ambassador Garcia said.