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27/07/2020: PH Consulate in SF Adapts to ‘New Normal’ in Promoting Culture and Heritage, Holds Online Concert for Independence Day


SAN FRANCISCO, 27 July 2020 - The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco has shifted to the use of online platforms to promote Philippine culture and heritage amid the pandemic, including staging an online concert to commemorate Independence Day and honor Filipino frontliners around the world, a first for Philippine Foreign Service Posts in celebrating National Day this year.

The Consulate General, in cooperation with The Filipino Channel (TFC), Philippine Center Management Board and Sentro Rizal San Francisco, held an online gala reception and concert “FILIPINO Resilient in Adversity: Spark. Connect. Empower.”

National Artist for Music Ryan Cayabyab and the Ryan Cayabyab Singers headlined the event, which also featured world-class Filipino artists, including composer-musician Louie Ocampo, ABS-CBN talent Jed Madela and San Francisco Bay Area-based Philippine Saringhimig. All the artists performed Philippine folk music and Original Pilipino Music that aimed to highlight Philippine culture and heritage and uplift of Filipinos around the globe, especially Filipino frontliners.

The event aimed to commemorate the 122nd anniversary of the proclamation of Philippine independence, celebrate Philippine culture and heritage, and honor the Filipino frontliners around the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Secretary of Foreign Affairs Hon. Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr. delivered a message as guest of honor. The gala concert also featured Philippine Ambassador to the United States, H.E. Jose Manuel Romualdez, California Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis, San Francisco City and County Mayor London Breed, Regional Director of the Office of Foreign Missions Clayton Stanger of the U.S. State Department, Mr. Conrad Calalang, chair of KalayaanSF Committee, and Consul General Henry S. Bensurto, Jr. of the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, delivered key messages to their online audience.

“This pandemic cannot hold us back. As a people, as a community, as a nation, as Filipinos, we will adopt. We will overcome and we will move forward,” said Consul General Bensurto in his remarks.

He added that despite the challenges, acts of heroism, of ordinary people doing extraordinary things, and of communities coming together to help those who are most in need of assistance, prove the Filipinos’ resiliency as a people.

The online concert was viewed live on and was also featured on the Philippine Consulate General’s Facebook: On 27 June 2020, the concert was broadcast through satellite/cable TV on The Filipino Channel in North America. Emmy Award-winning broadcast journalist Henni Espinosa of Balitang America and Consul Dominic Xavier Imperial hosted the virtual gala reception via Zoom and the virtual concert.

Guests who joined the virtual reception via Zoom Webinar included members of the Consular Corps in San Francisco and members of the League of San Francisco Consular Corps, business leaders and media partners, and Filipino American community leaders from the Bay Area, Alaska, Colorado, Northern Nevada and Utah. Guests wore Filipiniana attire  and national dress and used the virtual Zoom backgrounds made by the Consulate.

Adapting to the ‘New Normal’

The Consulate General has implemented the Spark*Connect*Empower (SCE) framework as its anchor for its cultural outreaches, including in its Independence Day celebration, bearing in mind the growing number of Filipino Americans, who now total 1.3 million under its jurisdiction.

The SCE, a non-partisan, non-political movement, born in San Francisco, aims to spark curiosity, love and passion among all Filipinos (including those of Filipino lineage) about their Filipino culture and heritage; connect them with their culture and with one another, and in the process empower them as individuals and as a community.

The Consulate has been making the most of the online platform, primarily through social media, to inform the public of updates and announcements on its consular services and other initiatives during the pandemic.

The Consulate has continued to extend its reach to Filipino Americans through the following online programs on its Facebook: Tanong ni ConGen, which is a weekly online discussion program via Zoom and Facebook Live, spearheaded by Consul General Bensurto, to answer frequently asked questions of the community, especially on consular matters. The program goes live on the Consulate’s official Facebook page:  every Wednesday at 10AM Pacific Time. The Consulate holds a virtual Flag Ceremony every Monday to uphold reverence for the Flag and Philippine culture. The flag ceremony also pays tribute to Filipino frontliners and short videos to uplift the Filipino spirit amid the pandemic.

The Consulate’s online language and cultural lessons will start on 28 July 2020 at 5-6 p.m. Pacific Time. Called “E-Pilipino Natin,” volunteer teacher Mr. Vince Ty, will conduct online classes on Filipino language and culture. The classes will be held via Zoom every Tuesdays and Fridays until 27 August 2020.

To help Fil-Ams maintain health and well-being amid the pandemic, the Consulate has also started leading a small group for Zumba dance sessions via Zoom.

The Consulate General also regularly updates the public of timely announcements through its social media, including travel advisories going to the Philippines and adjustments in protocols at the Consulate, e.g., required appointments for consular services. END