1st PHL ambassador J. M. Elizalde remembered on 56th death anniversary

J. M. Elizalde, Resident Commissioner of the Philippines, 1943. Photo: Library of Congress

A ceremony commemorating the 56th death anniversary of Joaquin Miguel Elizalde, the first Philippine Ambassador to the United States (1946-1952), was held on February 9.

At exactly 12 noon, a small group gathered around Elizalde’s gravestone at the cemetery at St. Joseph-on-Carrollton Manor Catholic Church. A special prayer, led by Fr. Kevin Farmer, was dedicated to Elizalde, and his grave was sprinkled with holy water. Consul General Jose Victor Chan Gonzaga, U.S.-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson, and Fr. Kevin offered flowers at the grave.

The prayers were followed by the playing of a clip of a speech delivered by Elizalde on December 16, 1941, or a few days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In his “Message to the Philippines,” now stored at the Recorded Sound Research Center of the Library of Congress, Elizalde foreshadowed how the destinies of the Filipino and American peoples will eventually be forged by the fires of war, and presciently anticipated the strategic importance of the Philippines in Southeast Asia. The recording was made available to the embassy by the Philippines on the Potomac (POPDC) Project.

Consul General Chan Gonzaga and Hendrickson delivered remarks emphasizing the importance of Elizalde’s role in the beginning of Philippines-U.S. relations, and highlighting the important friendship, alliance, and partnership of the two countries.

From left, Consul General Jose Victor Chan Gonzaga; Fr. Kevin Farmer, pastor of St. Joseph-on-Carrollton Manor Catholic Church; and U.S.-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson

“The commemoration of Ambassador Elizalde’s death anniversary auspiciously marks the beginning of a year-long celebration of the 75th year of formal diplomatic relations between the Philippines and the United States,” Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said in a statement following the ceremony.

“The work, life and legacy of Ambassador Elizalde is a clear testament to the deep, historic, and enduring relationship between our two countries. However, we are also reminded that PH-U.S. relations continue to be an unfinished project. Our task is to build upon the strong foundations of the past in order to achieve a common future of mutual peace and prosperity,” Romualdez also stated.

“In commemorating the 75th anniversary of U.S.-Philippines diplomatic ties, the Society recognizes the foundational role of Ambassador Elizalde in setting in motion an enduring relationship between our two sovereign nations that has grown and prospered for three-quarters of a century. We were honored to join with representatives from the Philippine Embassy to mark Ambassador Elizalde’s 56th death anniversary. It is with great affection that we recall his work linking America and the Philippines through diplomatic service, business, and educational ties,” Hendrickson also said after the event.

“And, on a personal note, it was a special pleasure to visit Ambassador Elizalde’ grave site at the St. Joseph church cemetery near Frederick, Maryland, my hometown,” he added. 

“It is an honor to receive our guests from Washington and the Philippines. We are thankful for this chance to pray together, to remember the Ambassador and all of the departed in our cemetery,” Fr. Kevin said during the ceremony. He was joined by Ruth Puls, executive director of Mission at St. Joseph; Martina Vallecillo, coordinator of Children’s Faith Formation; and Toni Edwards, coordinator of Ministries Administration.

NaFFAA continues to update its list of newly elected, re-elected Filipino American officials in 2020. Email info@naffaa.org for information.

© The FilAm 2021

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