PUERTO PRINCESA CITY — When the leadership of the US-Philippines Society led by Ambassador John Negroponte call on President Aquino in Manila this week, they expect to be able to bring back with them more good news that would help further raise the profile of the Philippines in the United States.
“Our meeting with President Aquino presents a timely opportunity for us to learn more about all the exciting new developments in the Philippines,” said Ambassador Negroponte, who co-chairs the US-Philippines Society with Filipino tycoon Manuel Pangilinan.
“We also want to examine ways on how we can be even more effective in carrying out our mission of raising awareness in the US about today’s Philippines and promote business opportunities,” said Negroponte, a prominent American diplomat who had previously served as US ambassador to Manila.
Ambassador Negroponte and other US-based personalities will be in Manila from January 29 to 31 to attend the annual board meeting of the US-Philippines Society, a Washington-based non-profit organization launched during President Aquino’s official visit to the US in 2012.
Aside from Ambassador Negroponte and Pangilinan, the Society’s bi-national board includes more than 30 prominent Filipino and American private sector and community leaders led by Washington Z. Sycip and Maurice Greenberg who both concurrently serve as Honorary Chairmen.
Aside from Negroponte, three former US ambassadors to the Philippines sit in the Society’s board: Tomas Hubbard, Frank Wisner, and Richard Murphy. The President of the Society, Ambassador John Maisto, and its Executive Director Hank Hendrickson, were also diplomats who served at the US Embassy in Manila.
After their courtesy call on President Aquino in Malacañang, the members of the Society’s board will meet with members of the Cabinet, among them Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario, Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, and Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson.
“The US-Philippines Society has been an effective partner in sharing the Philippine narrative to mainstream Americans,” said Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia Jr., an ex officio member of the board. “We expect the Society to continue helping us deliver the good news about the Philippines upon their return to the US.”
Ambassador Cuisia said that since its launching, the Society has not only been busy raising the profile of the Philippines in America but has also been actively supporting efforts to assist communities in Leyte and Samar that were devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
Last year, the Society channeled millions worth of assistance to typhoon victims from donations received from various US-based groups, community organizations and private individuals as well as raised funds from the “After the Storm” benefit concert at Washington’s famous Kennedy Center.
According to Ambassador Maisto, the Society was able to assist typhoon victims by working closely with more than a dozen recipient organizations, including the PhilamLife Foundation, the Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF), the Zuellig Family Foundation (ZFF), the PHINMA Foundation and the SM Foundation.
“We are grateful for the emergency response and support extended by the US-Philippines Society to typhoon-stricken families through different organisations including ours,” said Butch Meily, president of Philippine Disaster Recovery Foundation (PDRF), the country’s major private sector vehicle and coordinator for disaster management.
Backed by the country’s largest conglomerates, industry movers and top corporate leaders, PDRF is an embodiment of partnership that transcends business competition and promotes the common vision to build a strong, resilient and disaster-ready Philippines.
“The US-Philippines Society has also been successful in strengthening its bonds with the Philippines through close partnerships that brought programs on education, governance, conflict-resolution, resilience and the dynamic Philippine economy to influential groups in the US,” said Ambassador Maisto.
“We look forward to building on this solid record with an ambitious agenda for 2015,” he added.
Aside from the board meeting and their calls on President Aquino, Ambassador Maisto said the Society leadership will also be visiting some of the projects the organization funded in typhoon-affected communities in Tacloban, including PDRF’s livelihood project, temporary shelter, and eHealth Center.