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Global Alliance leads Filcom farewell to CG Bernie

26 September 2017

Congen Bernardita Catalla (in pink), who leaves HK to become Ambassador to Lebanon, is flanked by Filcom leaders.

There were tears as well as laughter when Filipino community leaders threw a surprise farewell party on Sept 10 for Consul General Bernardita Catalla, who expects to move to her new assignment as Philippine Ambassador to Lebanon by the end of the month.

The public area of the Consulate was filled with community leaders who turned up at the potluck gathering organized by Global Alliance Hong Kong, which is chaired by Leo Selomenio.

Also honored with a send-off was Vice Consul Alex Vallespin, who is moving to Guam for the second half of his six-year overseas tour of duty.

Congen Catalla was teary-eyed as she thanked the Filcom leaders as well as her staff for the support and love they gave her during her three-year stint in Hong Kong.

She said Hong Kong has the best support system, from both the host government and the Filipino community, that’s why she felt more relaxed here than when she was posted in  Malaysia and Indonesia.

Selomenio injected a light moment into the program by saying his first impression of the congen was that she was “mataray, maldita and unapproachable”, to which the diplomat gamely said yes, much to the delight of the audience.

But Selomenio said that impression soon vanished, as he realized the kind of person Congen Catalla truly was.

Selomenio said his respect for the Congen grew even more during the party, when he realized how intelligent and kind-hearted she really was.

“We witnessed her heart melting as we dedicated a community song for both (Congen and VC Vallespin) of them. We will be missing the both of them especially Ambassador Bernardita Catalla,” said Selomenio.

VC Vallespin also thanked the community leaders, and expressed how happy he was to have worked in Hong Kong.

All the other consular officers, including Deputy Congen Deric Acosta and VCs Timmy and Bob Quintin, also delivered speeches about their past experiences in the foreign service, particularly while posted abroad.

Filcom leaders also took turns honoring the two departing officers with speeches and tokens of appreciation, while their members offered dance numbers.

A highlight was the presentation to Congen of a framed collage of greetings and signatures by Filcom leaders.

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