The United Filipino Organization recently held a farewell dinner for the officials and staff of the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan, the Philippine Overseas Labor Office, and the Overseas Workers Welfare Administration to acknowledge the assistance and support they gave the Filipino community in the CNMI through the years.
The network of some 30 Filipino groups in the Northern Marianas treated the departing officials and staff of the three offices to dinner at Ming Palace in Garapan on Oct. 12.
The consulate and its satellite offices on Saipan are scheduled to close down on Oct. 31.
Consul General Medardo G. Macaraig and Guam Consul Edgar Tomas Q. Auxilian joined about 20 UFO officers in last Friday's event that also welcomed the umbrella organization's newest member, Triskelion Tau Gamma Phi.
UFO president Bong Malasarte led the presentation of plaques of appreciation to the consulate and its two attached agencies for their over 23 years of service.
“We are grateful to the Philippine Consulate General for the support, assistance, and friendship it has provided to our kababayans on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. The Filipino community is indeed saddened by the Consulate's closure after Oct. 31,” Malasarte told Saipan Tribune.
While the news of shutdown came as a disappointment, Malasarte noted that Filipinos in the Commonwealth have started to overcome the sadness and frustration that accompany the closure.
“That's a trait that we Filipinos share as a people. We express our grief and then we move on. Life goes on,” he explained.
UFO secretary Annamae Adaza said the consulate closure is not the end but “a new beginning for all Filipinos in the CNMI.”
Friday's event, which took place days before Macaraig left for his next consular assignment in Malaysia, also served as an opportunity for the umbrella organization to express its support for the Guam Consulate General, which would take over the responsibilities of the Saipan consulate.
“We assured Consul Gary [Auxilian] that the UFO is willing and ready to rally behind the Guam consulate. We need to work hand in hand to provide all Filipinos here with the services and support they need in these trying times,” said Malasarte.
Adaza added, “The UFO officers and members are here to assist the community within the organization's capacity, rendering services without expecting something in return in the name of volunteerism.”
Both officers also called on the entire Filipino community to take advantage of the remaining days of the Saipan consulate to process their consular documents.