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Philippine Consul General to San Francisco Henry S. Bensurto, Jr (left) as guest speaker at the Filipino American Network Lecture Series of the Federal Bank Reserve of San Francisco on 09 May 2018.

09 May 2018, San Francisco, USA. Philippine Consul General to San Francisco, Hnery S. Bensurto Jr. was invited by the Filipino Association Network (FAN) of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco as its guest speaker at the Federal Reserve Bank building in honor of Asian Pacific Heritage month. Current FAN President, Mr. Bernard del Castillo, Assistant Manager of the Financial Institution Supervision and Credit (FISC) Department of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, invited the Consul General to speak on various aspects of diplomatic and consular work and milestones and achievements on issues surrounding the South China Sea. There are currently around 100 Filipinos/Filipino-Americans who are working at the San Francisco branch of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Mr. Kevin Zerbe, Senior Vice President of the FISC Department, which was the sponsoring office for the event, introduced the Consul General. Moderator of the event, Mr. Vince Lopez, also a Filipino-American working at the Federal Bank, first asked the Undersigned regarding the reasons why he entered government, in particular, the Department of Foreign Affairs, given that he is also a lawyer. Speaking in front of 50 employees of the Federal Bank and live streamed and covered in the Federal Bank’s branches in Salt Lake City, Utah, Los Angeles and Seattle, Washington Consul General Bensurto expounded on how early on in his education, he made a decision to go down the path of government service as he has always had a heart for public service instead of pursuing a career in the private sector as a lawyer.

The Consul General was then asked about his role in the arbitration decision regarding the South China Sea. The Undersigned explained that upon his recall to Manila from his post in Washington DC PE, he was assigned as the Assistant Secretary on the West Philippine Sea and was part of the core group who formulated and implemented policies surrounding the Philippine position.

The Consul General then expounded on the work that is done at the Consulate General and explained and discussed the Spark*Connect*Empower (SCE) movement that it has initiated. The Consul General said that the SCE movement aims to spark interest among Filipino Americans, particularly the young generations, in the Bay Area and beyond about their Filipino heritage; connect them with, and instill in them pride of, their Filipino heritage; and ultimately empower them as Filipino Americans, both as individuals and as a community.

On the SCE movement, the Consul General said, “one cannot give back if you do not love yourself...and anything that is good cannot be contained, it will always spill over.”

In line with all of these, the Consul General said that one of the most important aspects of work done at the Consulate General is to provide assistance to Filipinos and Filipino Americans within its areas of jurisdiction --- one of the main thrusts of Filipino foreign policy. He said that consistent with the current administration’s thrust to provide efficient and comfortable services to the public, the Consulate General continuously strives to improve the delivery of services to the public both through improvements in systems and processes and the physical layout of the Consulate’s space.

Finally Consul General Bensurto propounded on the various events and programs on cultural and economic diplomacy that the Consulate General is undertaking all under the gamut of the Spark*Connect*Empower movement. The SCE introductory video and SCE theme song music video were also presented. END