CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Sunday, 1 September 2019

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A day to be independent

HONG KONG (SE): The Philippine consul general to Hong Kong, Bernardita Catalla, marked the 60th anniversary of the establishment of her office in Hong Kong at a diplomatic reception at the Conrad Hotel on June 8 to celebrate 119 years since her homeland declared its independence from Spain in 1898.
The Philippines established its first consulate general in the then-British colony in 1957.
In welcoming the chief secretary for the administration of Hong Kong, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Catalla thanked the host administration for its continued hospitality to the Filipino community and cooperation in ensuring the safety and welfare of the more than 200,000 or so working and living in the territory.
She gave special mention to the protection offered to the president, Rodrigo Duterte, during his short visit on his way to the One Belt One Road initiative meeting in Beijing in May.
In replying to Catalla, Cheung called the presence of the Filipino community in Hong Kong a huge asset to society and joined his host for the evening in drinking a toast to the ever-deepening ties between the Pearl of the Orient and the Pearl of the Orient Seas.
Presentations were made to various government departments, as well as local voluntary organisations in recognition of their support of and service to the Filipino migrant worker community over the years.
A special feature of the evening was a performance by a group of young Filipinos giving a foretaste of a production they will stage in marking the 20th anniversary of the handover of the territory from British to Chinese sovereignty on July 1.
Performing a segment under the title of Many Colours, a celebration of the diversity of cultures in the special administrative region and the Filipinos who have made it their home over the years, the choir sang the leading song from the production, Sway the Cradle, the chorus line of which goes, We are Friends.
Cheung also spoke about the contribution that The Philippines is making to the Hong Kong economy, both through direct trade and, since the territory is becoming a major gateway for Philippine exports and imports to and from the mainland, it is becoming one of its top partners in commerce and transport.
For Catalla, this year is her swansong Independence Day celebration in Hong Kong, as she has been given a new posting in Lebanon and will depart in August.
Philippine Independence Day is marked on June 12, the day that Emilio Aguinaldo proclaimed its sovereignty and independence from Spain in Cavite in 1898.
Hong Kong holds a special place in the hearts of those who cherish their independence, as the first revolutionary council of the republic was formed and sat in this city. In addition, the first Philippine flag was sewn in Morrison Hill Road in Wan Chai.
The wider Philippine community will celebrate the day with a festival and interfaith prayer service in Edinburgh Place on June 18.

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