Speech of Vice President Jejomar C. Binay for the celebration of the Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day and the commemoration of the 37th year of the establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the Philippines and China, Century Seafood Restaurant, Century
On this day we celebrate the 37th year of diplomatic ties between two neighboring states. In 1975, when the world’s political climate exuded a cooler tone, the Philippines and China took bold steps to thaw the frost that seemed to seize the globe. And through those years, that friendship has remained strong and warm.
Amidst my duties to our overseas countrymen, I have personally witnessed the bonds between the Philippines and China grow tighter in the light of our common enterprises against global concerns such as trafficking of persons. Across the whole realm of our government, China’s solidarity rings crisper than the bells which usher in the morning, as they remain our second largest supporter in terms of Overseas Development Assistance.
Indeed, it is with China more than any country in the world that the Philippines has signed the most number of trade and economic, cultural, scientific and technological agreements. I have no doubt that these shall flourish even further in the coming years as the exchanges between two old friends take on more profound concerns.
The bonds that are visible from the past 37 years are a great source of pride to both nations. The frequent interactions between our state leaders show the openness of doors between both governments. Trade, economic cooperation and cultural exchanges grow more vibrant every year, and in the hearts of all Filipinos, not only the Filipino-Chinese community, there is a welcoming kinship for our Chinese brothers that transcends the foreign service itself.
Our history goes beyond what our diplomatic ties suggest. Within our ordinary lives, several of our customs sprout from Chinese roots and the age-old values of hard work, respect for the elders and sense of duty to country are common threads that run through the very soul of both nations. From the time that the first Chinese traders landed on our shores, our cultural fabrics became interwoven.
Our old friends share the same sentiments and I was moved by the anecdote narrated by His Excellency Ambassador Ma Keqing at the launching of "China-Philippines Years of Friendly Exchanges" earlier this March.
His Excellency shared the story of "stone", which was told to him by a Filipino guide during the Ambassador’s visit to the walled city of Intramuros. The story was about how the Chinese did business with the Filipinos centuries ago, shipping silk, tea and ceramics from the Middle Kingdom. Across the vessels of the merchant fleet, heavy stones were placed at the bottom of the boats as ballasts. As they sailed back to China, these ballast stones were left behind. These stones became the cornerstones and foundations of roads as well as homes of Filipinos from all walks. These stones eventually became known as "Piedra de China" or paving stones of China.
This is more than just a compelling tale. It is a profound truth. These two great Asian neighbors built a bridge of trade which gave strength and confidence to both countries. This relationship has continued intact despite the focal points raised by political concerns of the times. And it is this, the origins of our bonds that grant all of us the confidence that our tomorrow can only be brighter if we all work together.
No friendship shall ever be perfect. There will be tests and challenges, and our shared path has seen and will continue to encounter twists and turns. There are those who would be quick to look at the obstacles along that road and plead with us to abandon the voyage altogether. But the richness of our past gives us the certainty that all things can be settled not just peacefully but justly between friends. The silver lining to any cloud on our horizon is not our differences but our commonalities and on this, we build our hopes and cooperation.
Let us continue to invigorate our kinship. Trade remains a main avenue but other pathways are emerging which shoulder to shoulder, we ought to explore. Skill and knowledge are the new currencies of the modern age. Our friends in Europe who are feeling the hardest blows of the crisis that currently engulfs their continent are those who lagged in investing in their human capital. Their people scour the globe for opportunity, but they are inadequately equipped to seize the frontiers that open before them. In a time where communication barriers can be difficult to breach, let us give each other the tools to communicate not just with each other, but with the other nations of the world that so eagerly wish to be part of Asia’s miracles.
As the golden galleon of economic power sails from West to East, let us widen the scope of our solidarity in the causes of peace and development. Let us hold hands and walk side by side as we find our own places under that new sun. And in the spirit of brotherhood, let us together and find not just our individual prosperity but our joint contributions to the rest of humanity.
This evening, we are celebrating more than just the formal ties between China and the Philippines. We are commemorating the generous gift of friendship between the Filipinos and the Chinese. This gift has brought great joy to all of us and bound by our fraternal concern for each other, we work hard to ensure that nothing but joy shall be shared by our succeeding generations.
I do not wish to take up more time or to serve discourse that is heavier than the banquet that we have just enjoyed. Perhaps we can continue our celebrations over tea, and let deeper bonds blossom between old friends.
Maraming salamat po.
Mabuhay kayong lahat!