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HK Filcom sends off 7 Manila-bound Consulate staff

13 July 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

Abad fights back tears as she reads her farewell speech as her 6 colleagues listen on
There were some tears and a lot of laughter when about 80 Filipino community leaders braved a new surge in Covid-19 infection in Hong Kong to gather today, Jul 12, in Sheung Wan, and say farewell to seven departing Consulate personnel.

The seven, led by cultural attache Loise Abad and passport officer Jethro dela Cruz, are  about to be recalled to the Department of Foreign Affairs’  head office in Manila at the end of their six-year stint in Hong Kong.

The others are protocol officer Cholo Nuere, and four women who worked mostly behind the scene - Malu Roque, Mavic Panganiban, Jocel Alegria and Eva Tubana.
All of them were profuse in thanking the Filipino community for the help they extended during their stint at the Consulate.

Abad, who interacted the most with Filcom leaders, especially Leo Selomenio and Marites Nuval of Global Alliance who organized the farewell, was reduced to tears as she said thank you.
The honorees with some Filcom leaders, including organizers Nuval and Selomenio (2nd and 3rd from left, kneeling)
She said that with help from what she called as the “pinaka dynamic na (Filcom) leaders, the Consulate was able to organize what she said was “pinakamarami at bonggang events” (the biggest number and most spectacular events) in Hong Kong.

Isang karangalan na nakasama, nakatrabaho at napaglingkuran ko kayo,” Abad said.
(It was an honor being with you, working with you, and having served you)
Dela Cruz told the mostly Filipino domestic workers group that he understood their plight as his mother was also an overseas Filipino worker, “kaya naiintindihan ko ang mga sakripisyo ninyo.” (that’s why I understand what you have sacrificed).

He said Hong Kong was his first overseas assignment, having come from doing a far more stressful job in the Philippines.

During his six years at the Consulate, he started out as a staff of the cultural section, but went on to become the most visible campaigner for overseas voting, before settling for the more relaxed job of handling passport applications.
Nuere spent much of his time at the Consulate doing protocol work, which meant he was rarely seen at Filcom events. His job entailed accompanying officers to welcome visiting VIPs from Manila and helping ensure they had a smooth stay in Hong Kong.

But because of the coronavirus outbreak, he said he had been spending more time at the Consulate, and so had the chance to interact more with colleagues and other fellow Filipinos.

He thanked the leaders for organizing the farewell, saying it was “nakakataba ng puso.”
(warms the heart).
Roque, Panganiban and Alegria also expressed gratitude for the send-off, even if they said they mostly stayed inside offices not seen by the general public. Alegria spoke for them all when she said “Mami-miss namin ang Hong Kong.”
Alegria, Tubana, Roque, Nuere & Panganiban with their plaques from Global Alliance
Tubana, whose ever-smiling face made her the perfect fit as secretary to the consul general, was more introspective, and spoke of how the pandemic made her realize that material things don’t mean as much as having your family and loved ones around you.

She also said she was grateful for the chance to say goodbye to the community because “malapit ang puso ko sa inyo.” (I feel for you).

Some Filcom leaders responded in kind, shedding tears as they said goodbye to the group.

Each Filcom group gave the guests tokens of appreciation, ranging from plaques and trophies to a cake from Metrobank’s Babes Mercado, and some keepsakes.

The Migrant Ilonggo Association peformed a native dance, a throwback to the time Abad meticulously organized the Philippine Independence Day cultural shows during her watch.

Everyone, except for a few who had to leave to beat their employers’ curfew, then shared a festive meal that was put together from donations by the various organizations that took part in the send-off.

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