A call for world solidarity

Published January 8, 2021, 8:00 AM

by AA Patawaran

Ambassadors send heartfelt greetings to the Filipino people

If only wishes were a cure to these pandemic times! Over the long holiday weekend, while my friend Agnes Huibonhoa, honorary consul of the Republic of Gambia, and I were exchanging New Year greetings with some ambassadors, particularly those who spent their holidays in the Philippines, we found their consistent portrayal of the Filipino people as resilient, optimistic, hardworking, compassionate, and generous not only heartwarming but also emboldening. While 2020 is over, the times remain uncertain, but we have these winning qualities and we have these allies from around the world, whose heartfelt wishes for more mutual support, solidarity, and cooperation make them true envoys of hope and friendship. Cheers to shared successes in 2021!


Ambassador Antonis Alexandridis, Embassy of Greece

As we have just turned the page to a bright new year, we are all joined in our prayers for a swift delivery from the pandemic that has for the past months dominated our lives. With all my heart, I wish all my Filipino friends health and prosperity in 2021, while being sure that my adoptive country will demonstrate faith and resilience in these trying times. May God keep you always safe, smiling, and happy. Let us all together make this year a remarkable one.


Ambassador Gerardo Lozano Arredondo, Embassy of the United Mexican States

The previous year has represented great challenges and sacrifices in our lives, but also an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of solidarity. Although the difficult times are not over yet, I am convinced that the spirit of resilience and faith of the Filipino people will enable them to successfully face the uncertain future. My best wishes for health, peace, success, and blessings in the year 2021.


Ambassador Hoang Huy Chung, Embassy of Viet Nam

The past year was such a dreadful time for the Philippines as well as the whole world when the Covid-19 pandemic ravaged the economy and overturned almost every aspect of our normal life. Yet, at the time of difficulties, what came to light were the astonishing resilience, optimism, sincerity, hard work, and friendliness of the Filipinos. My heart has been lifted every day, witnessing the people of the Philippines diligently accomplish their duties with optimism and happiness.

The New Year, 2021, is here, bringing in lots of hopes for cheerful changes. May the New Year bless all the Filipinos and the people around the world with health, wealth, and happiness. I am looking forward to devoting more of my heart to my duty strengthening the friendship, partnership, and cooperation between our peoples and the governments of Viet Nam and the Philippines.

May our bond get stronger day by day in this new year, as 2021 proudly marks the notable milestone of the 45th anniversary of diplomatic relations between our two countries, the Viet Nam-Philippine Strategic Partnership.


Ambassador Harald Fries, Embassy of Sweden

(Photo by Kristian Pohl, Regeringskansliet)

I hope that the holiday season has given everyone an opportunity to rejoice and recharge with your loved ones. I just celebrated my 35th Christmas in Manila with my family. It was the most tranquil Christmas of them all.

After a year, which some call annus horribilis, beginning with a serious volcano eruption and followed by an agonizing pandemic and a series of destructive typhoons, the Filipino people deserves a break in this new year.

According to a recent Social Weather Station survey, 91 percent of Filipinos face the new year with hope rather than with fear. On that encouraging note, I wish all Filipinos a peaceful, joyful, and healthy 2021.


Ambassador Nicolas Galey, Embassy of France

As we enter 2021, we leave behind a truly difficult and disruptive year for everyone. For several months, we were confined to our homes and faced drastic changes, uncertainty, and loss. In the face of hardship, however, we also witnessed the spirit of solidarity, volunteerism, generosity, and courage. This was particularly apparent in the Philippines, a country which faced several challenges this year on top of the Covid-19 pandemic, from the eruption of Taal Volcano to the series of destructive typhoons that affected thousands.

My wish for the Filipino people is to welcome this new beginning with optimism, hope, and unity. Indeed, we enter the New Year with several lessons that should guide us and prepare us for the months ahead.

This year marks a new beginning for myself as well as I am about to end my post after three years as ambassador of France to the Philippines. It is my hope that all the projects that our two governments have been able to accomplish together in recent years, particularly in the areas of development, defense, infrastructure, trade, tourism, science, and education, would contribute to the recovery of the country and the Filipino people, especially after this pandemic.

Together with my wife, Camélia, I take this occasion to thank all our Filipino friends who accompanied us as we discovered your beautiful country. We will remember with fondness all our memories in the Philippines and, most especially, the warmth, kindness, and hospitality of the Filipinos.

To all our friends in the Philippines, I wish first and foremost good health, but also prosperity, and happiness. Bonne année à tous, Maligayang Bagong taon sa inyong lahat!


Ambassador Giorgio Guglielmino, Embassy of Italy

I arrived in Manila three years ago to discover a new and different country. After three years I found out that our two countries are not different at all but very similar.

Approaching a new year, we, Italians and Filipinos, have the same positive spirit and the same attitude that makes us live our lives in full with our families and with our friends. Here we come, 2021!


Ambassador Gerard Ho, Embassy of Singapore

The year 2020 has been hard, but the Filipino people have admirably weathered this storm with characteristic resilience. In 2021, another fine Filipino quality—optimism—will shine as this beautiful country move toward recovery and normalcy. I am eagerly looking forward to the resumption and renewal of the close cooperation and engagement between Singapore and the Philippines. Mabuhay!


Ambassador Peter MacArthur, Embassy of Canada

On behalf of the Embassy of Canada in Manila let me wish all Filipinos the very best for a Happy New Year! In continuing to address the challenge of a global health and economic emergency, our collective success in 2021 depends upon multilateral cooperation. Nobody is safe until we are all safe. We shall overcome together. Canada’s dynamic people-to-people relationship to the Philippines will no doubt serve us well going forward. Maligayang Bagong Taon!


Ambassador Bita Rasoulian, Austrian Embassy Manila

Last year has been a most extraordinary and tumultuous year for us all. The Covid-19 pandemic has spared almost no country around the globe and confronted us with unprecedented challenges for our families, our communities, our peoples, and our governments. Since the outset of this health crisis, my team and I at the Austrian Embassy have dedicated our efforts to assisting Austrian citizens and our Filipino friends and communities to better navigate these unchartered waters that have repeatedly tested the depth of our resilience and our ability to adapt to the “new normal.”

But despite its many devastating effects, the Covid-19 pandemic has at the same time allowed us to gain a more profound appreciation of the need for solidarity and closer cooperation. Today, more than ever before, we have become aware of how interconnected and interdependent we are. Allow me to take this opportunity to express once again my deep gratitude and appreciation to all frontliners, especially the courageous Filipino medical workers in both Austria and the Philippines, who have been thrust to the forefront and who continue to provide not only medical relief, but also a measure of happiness, hope, and inspiration to us all. 

Both Austria and the Philippines remain deeply committed to cooperation as the only way forward to jointly tackle today’s and tomorrow’s transnational challenges. So while we may be social distancing, let me assure you that neither this pandemic nor any other global challenge will keep us—Austrians and Filipinos—from forging yet deeper bonds of friendship and partnership in the New Year 2021, a year which also marks 75 years of excellent relations between our two peoples and nations.

Let us not ignore the lessons of 2020, but unite even stronger in solidarity and compassion as one global family toward a common future and a shared goal. There is light at the end of the tunnel and I am confident we will reach it if we take the path toward it together.

Ang aking taos pusong pagbati ng Manigong Bagong Taon! Nawa’y maging malusog, mapayapa, at ligtas ang hatid ng taong 2021 para sa ating lahat.


Ambassador Vasin Ruangprateepsaeng, Royal Thai Embassy

Before we embark on a new year, I would like to congratulate everyone for making it despite all the challenges and struggles in the Covid-19 pandemic. I hope that we continue to be resilient amid adversities and optimistic that, as we move forward, 2021 will be a year of solutions, cooperation and collaborations, recoveries, opportunities, and progressive growth. I am also confident that the longstanding bilateral relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Republic of the Philippines will continue to prosper and strengthen in all fields of mutual interests and for the benefits of the two countries and their people.


Ambassador Dr. Titanilla Tóth, Embassy of Hungary

The year 2020 was challenging to everyone with no exception. We were all hit by the endless lockdowns, curfews, and various limitations imposed worldwide all in efforts to limit the spread of Covid-19. Both Hungary and the Philippines are doing their best to stay strong together in these trying times.

The friendship and commitment only grew stronger which was confirmed by the visit of the minister of foreign affairs and trade Péter Szijjártó in October, as not only the first but also the highest level foreign diplomatic delegation to the Philippines since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.

Both our nations are proving to be strong partners in trade as proven by the successful second session of the Philippine-Hungarian Joint Commission on Economic Cooperation in Manila last December.

We truly believe that one of the greatest investments anyone can make is in people, an excellent example of which is our focus on the Stipendium Hungaricum scholarship program, which gives the opportunity for 35 Filipino students annually to start their higher education studies in Hungarian universities sponsored fully by the Hungarian government.

Ever since I arrived in September, I’ve experienced firsthand how disciplined and diligent the Filipinos are when it comes to creating, respecting, and following the rules and regulations imposed on all of us to battle the pandemic. Thanks to that the Philippines is one of the most successful countries of the ASEAN region to tackle Covid-19.

During my time here I will make sure that the doors of the Embassy of Hungary are always open to anyone. It does not matter whether you are a Filipino student, a prospective tourist, or a business owner looking to make a trade connection. Perhaps you would just like to learn more about us. My team and I are here to make sure to bring our countries and people closer together.

Mabuhay 2021!


Ambassador Jana Sediva-Treybalova, Embassy of the Czech Republic

(Photo by Mark Ches Ang)

I honestly do not know what to think about these days. The world was so different when we were born. The more things change, however, the more they remain the same. I try to see the reason behind events but I do not dare give any message, only my humble observation.

Over the last year, we have discovered that the interconnectedness of the world also has its disadvantages and that this fact makes us more vulnerable. What we have learned, I believe, is that each one of us must weigh our words and our actions carefully and take responsibility for them, because their consequences are borne not only by us but also by thousands, millions of people—the whole world.

For me, Philippine National Hero José Rizal and his best friend, Czech professor Ferdinand Blumentritt, are a great inspiration in these days. They met only once, as traveling in their lifetime was difficult and accessing good education was not always easy, but through the years, they exchanged a huge number of letters. Even on the eve of his execution, Rizal wrote a last and touching letter to his Czech friend. These two men remained focused on the real substance of their friendship and devoted their lives to the truth. They were men of very different characters who were raised in different cultures but they inspired each other, they shared many ideas, and they became best friends, despite all difficulties.

To my Filipino friends, like Rizal and Blumentritt did, I wish we all stay open-minded not only to what we can learn from the world we live in but also what this world can learn from each of us, as together we march on into the year and into the future.