SAN FRANCISCO – Serious drugs, upsurge in crimes, the homeless swarming on the streets in downtown San Francisco and elsewhere, businesses downturn.
These are the major woes confronting the city and county of San Francisco as it is in a frenzied preparations for one of the biggest events in California and the United States this year – the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders Summit to be attended by world leaders from at least 21 countries, plus hundreds of ministers, business leaders and others in sidelight conferences and meetings.
Is the Philippines, one of the APEC members, not worried about these problems, especially that Philippine President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. will be one of the key players in the global conference?
“Not at all,” says Philippine Consul General in San Francisco Neil Ferrer, visibly oozing with confidence during a call and interview by a team of Philippine News Today at the Carlos P. Romulo Hall of the consulate office on Sutter st. in downtown San Francisco.
Ferrer explains that the problems are not distinct to San Francisco but are common to many bustling cities not only in the United States and in other countries, adding that the Philippine Consulate, the Philippine Embassy, with the support of the “very active” and concerned Filipino community in the Bay Area and elsewhere, are the ready to help ensure the success of the first visit of President Marcos in California and the APEC multi-sectoral meetings.
Ferrer reveals that his office is coordinating with all offices and agencies tasked to support APEC, like the State Department, the Department of Foreign Affairs, Malacanang, the city and county of San Francisco, the Office of California Governor Gavin Newsom, among others.
It was gathered that the Filipino community is also organizing activities, including a gathering with President Marcos at an undisclosed hotel. The Philippine News Today may also participate with a planned book launching by editor in chief Alfred Gabot and book signing by three other Filipino authors, including two PNT columnists.
As the Philippine Consulate readies for the milestone event, it has also expanded its services to the Filipinos on various aspects such as renewal of Philippine passports and processing and oath taking for Filipino citizenship retention or dual citizenship.
Ferrer reveals that the Philippine Consulate has been opened and made more accessible in person or online for the Filipino passport applicants and those wanting to get back their Philippine citizenship after being naturalized as US citizens.
“We are very happy that many of our countrymen have availed of our services for the renewal of their passports and retention of Philippine citizenship,” Ferrer enthuses.
The Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco covers a vast territory that includes not only Filipinos in San Francisco and Bay Area and Northern California but also those in nearby states of Nevada, Oregon and Washington. It has also jurisdiction on Alaska, Idaho and the counties of Churchill, Douglas, Elko, Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldtm, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Pershing, Storey, Washoe and White Pine, among others.
Ferrer also reveals the Philippine Consulate is assisting in the registration for the absentee voting for overseas Filipinos in 2025 in which Filipinos will vote for the Philippine President, Vice President, Senators and a party-list group.
He expresses optimism that more Filipinos will be participating in the absentee voting because of new mechanisms giving impetus to their registering as voters. Voting, meanwhile, could now be made by mail in addition to voting in person at authorizing voting centers. Ballots are sent out by mail to registered voters who will then fill them out and mail them back to the Philippine Consulate, he explains.
(The author is managing editor of Philippine News Today. She was formerly deputy managing director of Health Frontiers which handled multinational companies and public relations consultant of then Pampanga Vice Governor Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo.)
(To be continued)