A dinner reception was held in honor of Glicerio “Eli” Arago at the Fiesta Resort & Spa’s Hibiscus Hall Wednesday night to officially introduce him to the community as the new honorary consul of the Philippines for the CNMI.
Various dignitaries such as Philippine Consul to Guam Edgar Auxilian, Japanese Consul Hitoshi Kikuchi, and lawmakers like CNMI Delegate to the U.S. House of Representatives Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan, Senate President Victor B. Hocog (Ind-Rota), and House Speaker Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan) attended the event.
Arago said he was humbled and honored by the presence of so many people who came.
“I’m happy because this is really what we want to have, a very close partnership, friendship with the local community, and the government, for the protection and interest of our citizens,” Arago said.
For the many people who have known him, the Philippine government made the right choice in appointing Arago.
“We found a partner, a very good partner in the person of Mr. Eli Arago and we look forward to a close working relationship with him,” Auxilian said.
“I really believe he is the right choice by the Philippine government to represent all of the Filipinos in the CNMI community,” Alex Sablan said.
Tan Holdings president Jerry Tan, who has known Arago for 30 years, said that Arago is “very loyal to the Philippine government.”
Aside from working pro bono as honorary consul, Arago is currently senior vice president and chief finance officer of Tan Holdings.
“He could’ve become a U.S. citizen a long, long time ago. But until today, he still chose to remain as a Philippine national,” Tan said. “I don’t think NMI can choose a better person than Eli to be the honorary consul.”
Filipinos comprise about a third of the population of the Commonwealth.
“We are very thankful that we now have an official honorary consul that will help our kababayans here on Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. Before it was hard because Filipinos had to call the United Filipino Organization and we had to contact Guam. At least now we have Eli,” said Romeo Malasarte, president of United Filipino Organization, which is the umbrella group of Filipino organizations on Saipan.
Home away from home
In his speech, Arago said the CNMI has been his home away from home.
“I’ve lived and worked [on] Saipan nearly half of my life. For 30 years, the experience and friendship gained were opportunities that can only be felt or experienced when you are home. I am home. Saipan, Tinian, and Rota are the home for us and for my fellow kababayans,” he said.
He also sought the help of the community to be able to do his job well.
“I am here, along with the thousands of Filipino workers and their dependents, to reaffirm our long outstanding relations and friendship. I can only do much if I don’t have the support of this community. I need all of you,” Arago said.
He then proposed a toast for a “stronger partnership, for prosperity” and for “our enduring partnership.”
According to Arago, they are now setting up an office in Fina Sisu where they can operate and process consular dealings.
Arago was appointed to the position by Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert F. del Rosario effective since April 8 and he took oath of office before Consul General Marciano R. de Borja at the Philippine Consulate General in Guam last May 8.