24 September 2012, Tel Aviv, State of Israel – The Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv called its three Honorary Consular Officials on 24 September 2012 for the 2012 Target Setting Workshop and Evaluation with the aim of presenting prospective activities for the remainder of the year 2012 and for the year 2013. Third Secretary and Vice Consul Lorenzo Rhys Jungco, Third Secretary and Vice Consul Ferdinand P. Flores, Labor Attaché Merriam Cuasay, Welfare Officer Reynold Pigar, Administrative Officer Fatima Diema Tabio and Cultural Officer Teresita Reyes were also present during the event.
Since his assumption to duty more than a year ago, Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calonge has pushed hard for deeper cooperation between the Philippines and Israel at all possible levels, e.g., people-to-people exchanges, capacity building, institutional linkages, exchanges of high-level visits, trade and business missions and the like, all in line with the goals of having excellent relations.
Ashdod Honorary Consul Boaz Waksman graciously hosted the meeting-workshop in his office. The meeting was also an opportunity to review the past activities undertaken since Ambassador Generoso D.G. Calonge assumed office in August 2011.
In his opening remarks, Ambassador Calonge said that the Embassy has had many successful activities undertaken since the first target setting workshop in October 2011. He thanked the Honorary Consuls for their active participation and invaluable assistance to the Embassy most especially to all its programs.
The Ambassador underscored that the Philippines is being put consistently in the limelight, particularly highlighting its robust economy, sound business environment and its new stature in the international financial community. Ambassador Calonge also noted the significant 12 percent increase in the number of Israeli tourists visiting the Philippines for the period January – April 2012.
Philippine Honorary Consul General in Haifa Mr. Carmel Hacohen, the most senior of the three, presented accomplishments in his jurisdiction (Northern Israel).
He noted the successful visits to the Philippines of Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav in February 2012 and the recent visit to the Philippines of Haifa University Rector David Farragi in August 2012 which was arranged in short notice. Mr. Hacohen said that these visits definitely contributed in providing additional impetus in Phl-Israel relations. These exchanges also demonstrated the vibrant relations between Manila and Haifa owing to their sister city agreement.
He lamented that the Castra Cultural show would no longer materialize this year as expected in view of scheduling difficulties but promised that he would again make representations with Castra Mall management to bring the project into fruition by mid-year in 2013. Mr. Hacohen also noted Haifa's business potentials and proposed organizing a business meeting between Haifa Chamber of Commerce and the business sector in the Philippines. "Now that linkages have been established between the Haifa University and Universities in Manila, this would also be an opportunity to establish connection with another excellent institution, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology," Mr. Hacohen said. "Also, as chairman of Ein Hod, a famous museum in Israel, I suggest organizing an exhibit of a Filipino artist," Mr. Hacohen added. According to him, this will complement the cultural promotion of the Philippine Embassy.
Tourism promotion is the forte of Honorary Consul Boaz Waksman owing to his experience in the tourism industry as the owner of Ophir Tours Ltd. He presented his current project of printing brochures in Hebrew featuring the top tourism destinations of the Philippines. He also suggested cooperation in cultural promotion by tying up the Embassy with Holon's Museum of Art Design.
Mr. Waksman also conveyed his current project of organizing a visit to the Philippines of a big group from health insurance industry which will be exposed to the huge potentials of the Philippine tourism industry.
Consul Waksman acknowledged two challenges: the establishment of a sister-city agreement with Ashdod and the visit of the Israeli Tourism Minister to the Philippines.
Mr. Shimon Weinbaum, having been given the nod by the Israeli government as Philippine Honorary Consul in Jerusalem, presented his accomplishments in bringing in businessmen to the Embassy who are interested in doing business with the Philippines especially in the areas of security, leisure, electronics, information technology, agriculture, medicines, arts and crafts, household fixtures, software and the pharmaceutical industry.
He also cited the possibility of opening of a factory in the Philippines of earthquake-proof tables for school children which would generate jobs, as well as the pilot program of Balikbayan boxes (freight forwarding) which will benefit the Filipino Community in Israel. He said that although it is already operational, there is still a need to study the system to introduce improvements.
In closing, Ambassador Calonge thanked the Honorary Consuls for their contributions to the Embassy's plans and programs and in advancing Philippine foreign policy focusing on the economic pillar. "There have been a lot of accomplishments since last year and the Embassy is looking forward to further enhancing cooperation and achieving concrete results," the Ambassador said. -END-