Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez went on an official visit to Anchorage, Alaska to explore the possibility of increasing economic exchanges between the Philippines and the state of Alaska.
He also took the opportunity to engage with the Filipino-American community there.
The official visit was upon the invitation of Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan and facilitated by the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, which exercises consular jurisdiction over Alaska, and the Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition of Alaska (AAPICA), led by its president Jesse Vizcocho.
Alaska is home to around 30,000 Filipino-Americans who represent the biggest immigrant group in the state.
Majority of them are in Anchorage, which is also where 40% of Alaskans reside. Filipino-Americans work throughout the state in the fisheries industry, the service sector, tourism, the local government, the medical industry, among other fields.
“I can tell you that I am very proud to be here in the United States as the Ambassador because everywhere I go and every person that I meet in Washington, D.C. knows a Filipino community that is very reliable and hardworking people,” Romualdez told Filipino-American leaders at a town hall event.
“Alaska is blessed with a strong Filipino community -- one of the largest, per capita, in the country,” Senator Sullivan later on tweeted.
“The strength of the US-Filipino relationship for decades has been one of the core pillars of security and economic prosperity for the entire Asia-Pacific region. I think that is something that we, as Americans, as Filipino-Americans, should all take a lot of pride in,” Senator Sullivan said in his remarks at the town hall event.
Romualdez had the opportunity to engage with members of the Filipino-American community during a visit at the Anchorage plant of Copper River Seafoods, a premier producer of Alaska seafood and one of the largest employers of Filipino-Americans in the state.
They also met with Deputy Commissioner Nelson San Juan of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, and Joy Maglaqi, who works at the Anchorage Mayor’s office.
The Ambassador’s delegation likewise dined at the Filipino restaurant Bahay Kuboowned by Filipino-American Maricel Medina and engaged with several faculty members and students of the University of Alaska Anchorage.
In separate meetings, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy and Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz likewise noted the vital contributions of the Filipino-American community to the history and continued progress of the Last Frontier. For the part of the Philippine Government, Ambassador Romualdez pledged to further improve the delivery of services to kababayan in Alaska.
Romualdez also addressed the business community in Anchorage as the featured guest at a “Make It Monday” forum co-organized by the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska World Affairs Council. The forum included a wide-ranging conversation with Senator Sullivan followed by a Q&A moderated by Lise Falskow, president and CEO of the Alaska World Affairs Council.
The Ambassador also pursued economic discussions with Commissioner Julie Anderson of Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development; Jim Szczesniak, Manager of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport; Bill Popp, president and CEO of the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation; and Michael Kohan, Seafood Technical Director at the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.