Israel Minister Announces Assistance for Marawi at Philippine Independence Day Reception in Tel Aviv

 18 June 2017, Tel Aviv, State of Israel – Israel Minister for Welfare and Social Services Haim Katz announced that the Israeli government is offering assistance to those displaced by the recent conflict in Marawi City, Mindanao. Minister Katz was the guest of honor at the diplomatic reception for the 119th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence hosted by the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv.

According to the Minister, the Israeli Foreign Ministry has already allocated a special budget for humanitarian aid for displaced citizens of Marawi City.  

Addressing about 250 guests from the Israeli government, diplomatic corps, business community, and leaders of the Filipino community, Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial highlighted the close ties and enduring friendship between Israelis and Filipinos, who share the same love for their respective countries and who are both committed to democracy, social justice, peace and security.

Ambassador Imperial mentioned that this year is also the 60th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the Philippine and Israel. He added that bilateral relations between the two countries have never been as strong and multi-faceted as they are today. Intelligence sharing and defense cooperation have become more robust. Two-way tourism continues to rise and Israel becomes the Philippines’ fastest tourism market last year. Agricultural cooperation remains an important aspect of the relations and the Ambassador expressed appreciation for the Granot Agrostudies Program under MASHAV through which Filipino students learn about innovation and technologies from Israel.

He expressed optimism that the ongoing negotiations for a bilateral labor agreement will be successful, as it is expected to create better conditions for 20,000 Filipino caregivers in Israel and end the unlawful imposition of exorbitant fees that subject them to a form of debt bondage as pre-condition for employment.  

In his speech, Minister Katz conveyed his congratulations to the government of the Philippines and further thanked the latter for its "open doors" policy for Jews fleeing the Holocaust, and for being the only country in Asia to support the United Nations Partition Plan in 1947 that paved the way for the establishment of the State of Israel. He further said that the people of the Philippines not only cared for the Israelis through government actions but also through the Filipino caregivers in Israel. He said both the Philippines and Israel look at the 60 years of relations with pride for the accomplishments, and hope that the future will further deepen the relationship in all the most important areas.


Ambassador Neal Imperial with the Guest of Honor, Minister for Welfare and Social Services Haim Katz

Also present at the reception were high-ranking officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, including Deputy Director General for the Asia Pacific Mark Sofer, and Ambassador Meron Reuben, Chief of Protocol.

The guests were treated to performances by Ms. Francis Anne Rivera-Virtudazo, a world class soprano singer of Sindaw Performing Arts Guild. She was recently honored as a World Class Filipino for the Performing Arts at the World Class Philippines Awards 2017. She was also the Division Champion in the Opera Category of the 2015 World Championship of Performing Arts (WCOPA). Aside from singing the “Lupang Hinirang” a cappella, Ms. Virtudazo entertained the crowd with her renditions of “Balut Penoy / Sa Kabukiran” mash-up; “Sa Ugoy ng Duyan”, and “Con Te Partiro”.

Ms. Ezra Liz Joy Ng, a 17-year old Filipino student in Israel who won 3rd Place in The Voice Israel last March 2017, sang the “Hatikva”, the Israeli National anthem.


Ms. Francis Anne Rivera-Virtudazo dazzles the audience with her performance



Ms. Ezra Liz Joy Ng singing the Hatikva

The Embassy personnel greeted and mingled with the guests in their traditional attire – the men in their Barong Tagalog and the ladies in their colorful Filipiniana gowns.

The guests loved the kosher version of a Filipino traditional cuisine called batchoy, a popular noodle with chicken dish that originated in Iloilo, a province in Western Visayas. Its original ingredients were "kosherized" to cater to Israeli requirements. Mr. Steve Gargaritano, an Embassy staff who is a native of Iloilo, taught Hilton Hotel's chef how to prepare batchoy and achieve its authentic taste.



Mr. Steve Gargaritano with the hotel chef preparing the batchoy

The Embassy's reception also featured an exhibit which featured “The Bloom” and “The Dragnet” lounge chairs designed by Mr. Kenneth Cobonpue, a multi-awarded furniture designer and manufacturer from Cebu, Philippines.


Mr. Cobonpue’s the Bloom(top) & the Dragnet(bottom) on exhibit during the reception

 Flag-raising ceremony

Earlier, the Embassy held a flag-raising ceremony on 12 June 2017 which was attended by its personnel and their families, Filipino community leaders, and friends of the Embassy. The early morning celebration was highlighted by the simultaneous singing of the National Anthem and the raising of the Philippine Flag, followed by the reading of the messages of His Excellency President Rodrigo Roa Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Schramm Cayetano.

During the short program, the Embassy personnel and guests enjoyed Ms. Virtudazo’s heart-warming version of the patriotic songs “Bayan Ko” and Andres Bonifacio’s “Pag-ibig sa Tinubuang Lupa”. Traditional Filipino breakfast was served after the ceremony. – END - 


Philippine Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial and Embassy officers and staff lead the Filipino community in the singing of the Philippine national anthem during the flag raising ceremony at the Embassy grounds


 Ms. Virtudazo singing “Bayan Ko” during the flag raising ceremony