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In celebration of the 65th anniversary of the exodus to the United States of Russian refugees from Tubabao Island in Easter Samar, and the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Russia, San Francisco PCG held an Exhibit launch of Tiempo Russo Tubabao Island, in partnership with the Consulate of the Russian Federation and the Congress of Russian Americans.

In attendance were  Russian Consul General Sergei Petrov and Madame Olga Petrova, the Russian Deputy Consul General Andrey Varlamov, Ms. Sabelnik, Archbishop Kyrill of San Francisco and Western America and Bishop Feodosy of the Russian Orthodox Church, and Mr. Elpidio Quirino and Mr. Gregory Bologoff, whose families were instrumental in bringing the Russians into the Philippines.

Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. welcomed the Russian-American Community to the Kalayaan Hall, some of whom were refugees at that time, as well as their family members, who came to celebrate the milestones.  In his remarks, he said that, “I could not help but be amazed at the human capacity to love, and to care for another fellow human being irrespective of color nationality, religious background and ideology”, and that this is part our histories that must told to the next generations of Filipinos, Russians and Americans.

He added that the celebration “echoes history by opening our doors once again to our Russian friends who were sheltered by the Philippines in their time of need, with the hope that they feel the same compassion and hospitality that was extended to them decades ago in Tubabao.    It will be a night of remembrance, and a celebration of relations that continue to deepen and endure through the years.”

Consul General Petrov commended the Filipino people for being the only nation to open its doors to the Russians, saying that this shared history between the Philippines and Russia was a story of “human bravery, courage, humanity and generosity.”

Ms. Sabelnik was profuse in her thanks to the Philippines, saying that she and many other White Russian families owe their lives to the decision of President Elpidio Quirino to open its doors to the Russians, as well as the United States for ensuring the security of the Russians as they fled from Shanghai to the Philippines.

Representing the Office of San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee was Deputy Director Ashley Cheng, who congratulated the Consulates of the Philippines and the Russian Federation and the Congress of Russian-Americans in celebrating an important part of history that is witness to the cooperation of three countries working towards the same goal.

Also in attendance was Associate Regional Director of the Office of Foreign Missions, Mr. Matthew Davis.

A cultural program of Philippine dances performed by Parangal Dance Company and a traditional boyar dance performed by Julia Zharova and Honor Artist of Russia Vladimir Riaztanseff followed the remarks.  The evening closed with community singing of “Ikaw Lamang ang Iibigin” accompanied by Mr. Nikolai Massenkof who played the piece on the bayan, a Russian accordion-type instrument.

Filipino and Russian food were served at the reception that followed.

The Exhibit features photographs and memorabilia from the times the Russians lived in Tubabao during their exile, as well as copies of watercolor artist A. Karamzin’s paintings of Tubabao.  The Exhibit will be on display until November 11 at the Kalayaan Hall. END