His experience with the Philippine Consulate General on Saipan defined his Philippine Foreign Service career, according to Consul General Medardo G. Macaraig in his farewell message to the Filipino community of the Northern Marianas.
Macaraig, who assumed his duties as consul general in July 2009, said his first assignment to lead a foreign service post was beset with challenges that included a struggling economy, dwindling employment opportunities, unresolved labor claims, and the uncertainties of a new immigration system.
“I am proud to say that with a firm resolve and innovative practical approaches, we have jointly weathered these problems as we face these issues with more hope and confidence than three years ago,” he said.
Macaraig is scheduled to leave Saipan on Monday, Oct. 15, two weeks before the consulate shuts down after serving Filipinos in the Commonwealth for more than 23 years. By Monday, Macaraig will assume his new duties as minister and consul general at the Philippine Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
He maintains that the problems facing the CNMI are “opportunities waiting to be tapped,” adding that the skills that Filipinos have received from the Consulate-and will continue to receive from the Filipino community-will allow them “to explore entrepreneurship and alternative sources of income” and “will serve us well here in the Northern Marianas or anywhere around the world where the Filipino worker is in demand.”
“If future conditions or the struggles and difficulties of Filipino workers do not permit continued stay in the CNMI, Filipinos should remember that our beloved Philippines welcomes us anytime,” he said.
Macaraig noted that the clamor to continue the skills trainings proves that the program is useful and valued. He thanked Consul General Bayani V. Mangibin and the officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate General in Guam, which will take over the Saipan consulate's responsibilities, for their commitment to continue the program after Oct. 31.
He said he and his family are grateful for the unique opportunity to serve as the last consul general of the Philippines on Saipan.
“The successes of the Philippine Consulate General did not result from boundless resources, outstanding talents or random twists of fate,” said Macaraig. “Rather, all these achievements come from hard work and dedication, from the untiring and unconditional coordination between and among the consulate, the government and the community, from our mutual sincerity and understanding even in face of the most trying situations and, most of all, from the power and mercy of our Creator who has blessed all of us.”
Macaraig recognized Filipino community leaders and members for their assistance to the Consulate.
“Our official interaction ends with my departure from Saipan but our personal friendship shall remain. It is my firm belief that the memories and lessons that we shared during the past three years shall remain in our hearts and minds in the years to come,” he said.
Additionally, Macaraig acknowledged the CNMI government and its citizens for their hospitality and friendship. “The excellent relationship between our people does not end with the closure of the consulate in Saipan but will continue to be administered on our part by the Philippine Consulate General in Guam and Filipinos who shall continue to be partners of the CNMI in the years to come.”
Macaraig met separately this week with Gov. Benigno R. Fitial and Delegate Gregorio Kilili Sablan for his farewell visits. He also extended his appreciation to the religious leaders of various churches in the Commonwealth.
“I request everyone to extend to the officers and staff of the Philippine Consulate General in Guam the same, if not better, support and understanding that you have extended to the Consulate here [on] Saipan,” said Macaraig.