ConGen Mario de Leon on his final diplomatic post: It’s been ‘challenging, hectic, heartwarming’

‘Hanggang sa muling pagkikita.' Photo by Boyet Loverita

‘Hanggang sa muling pagkikita.’ Photo by Boyet Loverita

Dear Filipinos of the US Northeast,

The past five and a half years, my term as your Consul General, have been challenging, demanding and hectic. At the same time, as the last posting in my Foreign Service career, this is one of the most rewarding, heartwarming, and most memorable.

I had my work cut out for me as soon as I assumed my post in 2011. One of my first tasks was to seek cooperation among all the sectors in the community; I sought counsel with many close confidantes and community old-timers.

As we got more and more reacquainted, I appreciated your intentions for our kababayans, for the community and for our home country. I realized that the US Northeast, however small in geographic area, was dense with activities, engagement, and leadership potential. Soon enough, I found myself attending at least three Filcom events on a typical weekend.

I have always believed that an informed community is an empowered community, and we collaborated on several programs that aimed to ensure sustainability of your organizations, transition leadership to the emerging generation, and ultimately to give back to the motherland. In learning how to work together, we have successfully advocated for the interest of the Filipinos, maximized our efforts to magnify our impactful presence in the US, and brought meaningful change to the Philippines.

Recently, our partnership in rallying your local legislators to get behind our Filipino WWII Veterans is nearing fruition, as the Congressional Gold Medal is close to presidential approval.

One of my proudest achievements is when the community came together to provide relief and assistance to our brothers and sisters after typhoon Yolanda. Through your contribution, we were able to build homes for 108 families in the most devastated towns in Eastern Samar and Leyte, making our work relevant and very much felt in the homeland.

Our Philippine Independence Parade remains as the biggest national day celebration outside our country. More and more Filipinos are holding elected and appointed positions of leadership in the US government; Filipino talent, businesses, and products are getting more attention from the American audience. Filipino-Americans are finally getting the esteem we so rightly deserve. Together, we have ably uplifted the profile of the Filipino-Americans in the mainstream American society and brought the Philippines increased visibility in the United States.

As my tour of duty comes to a close, I thank all community leaders, advocates, youth members, partners – all of you who have helped the Consulate achieve our goals and vision. I might be away for some time, but please be assured that I value your friendship and will always return to New York knowing that I have a home and a welcoming community to come back to.

Maraming, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat! Hanggang sa muling pagkikita.

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