By Veronica Uy
First Posted 18:33:00 06/13/2008
MANILA, Philippines — Acting very presidential, the United States’ Democratic Party’s presidential nominee US Senator Barack Obama on Thursday (Chicago time) greeted Filipinos “Mabuhay (long live)” on the Philippines’ Independence Day.
“Today, I extend my warm wishes to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the people of the Philippines. Let us join with Filipinos worldwide and Filipino Americans to celebrate Philippine Independence Day. Mabuhay!” he said.
Obama’s statement, available at the website of Asian Americans for Obama, acknowledged the contribution of Filipino veterans who fought in the Second World War.
“During World War II, Filipino and American troops fought bravely together under some of the most trying conditions suffered by any forces during that conflict, forging a historic bond between our two nations and their people. Filipinos displayed great courage alongside American soldiers at Bataan and Corregidor, only to be denied their just benefits by our government,” he said.
He thus urged members of the US Congress to pass the Veterans’ Benefits Enhancement Act of 2007 which would honor the service of all US veterans, including these Filipino World War II heroes.
“The Senate passed this bill last April. I urge my colleagues in Congress to take note of this day to honor the heroic service of Filipino World War II veterans by finally turning this important legislation into law,” he said.
Obama recognized the long history and the special relationship between the US and its former colony.
The US Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, who spent some time in Hawaii, where Filipinos make up most of its residents, also recognized the positive contribution of migrant Filipinos to the US.
“On this anniversary, we also must recognize the enormous contributions of generations of Filipino immigrants to building a more vibrant United States of America. Indeed, more than 60 years after World War II, Filipino-Americans continue to serve brilliantly and bravely as members of our fighting forces,” he said.
“I grew up in Hawaii, where Filipinos have had an enormous positive impact on the culture and economy. As dedicated military and civil servants, lawyers and bankers, artists, engineers and entrepreneurs, agricultural and industrial laborers, healthcare providers and customer service workers, caretakers for our elderly and youth, Filipino Americans — four million strong — have enriched our country, embodied our nation’s highest ideals, and reflected the very best that the Philippines has to offer,” he added.
Projecting into the future, the Illinois senator expressed his desire to work with the Philippines and Filipinos.
“I look forward to working with the Filipino people and their government, as part of the global community, to combat poverty and generate wealth, build healthy and educated communities, and change the odds for generations to come,” he said.
The statement, characteristically inspiring, acknowledged the richness of the Philippines and committed to helping it through its many problems.
“But as a nation rich in natural and human resources, with a proud legacy as the first democracy in Asia, the Philippines also holds great opportunities and hope for the future. An ongoing challenge of the 21st century will be to ensure that these opportunities to make a better life are open to all,” he said.
“In part because of our shared history, we cannot ignore the fact that the Philippines continues to confront many difficult challenges, including persistent poverty, natural disasters, and political division,” he added.