By Marivir R. Montebon
For Fiesta Talks 2017 Magazine
New York City – Deputy Consul General Felipe Carino III, or DCG Bong as he is fondly called, will say ‘till we meet again’ to the Filipino community in the northeastern coast by the end of August this year.
He will leave his post as head of the political and economic sections of the Philippine Consulate with pride and satisfaction of his six-year mission and takes his hat off to the Filipino community who to him is warm and highly driven.
“I will bring with me many great memories of the New York because the community here is so dynamic, responsive and cooperative,” he said in telephone conversation.
DCG Bong said he is grateful for having worked with two good bosses, Consul General Tess Dizon de Vega and her predecessor Amb. Mario de Leon Jr., who led the Consulate with the ‘thinking out of the box’ attitude.
“My bosses broke the glass ceiling. Never before have new frontiers been reached because of their kind of leadership, and because the community is also always willing to contribute and is disciplined,” he said. The New York consulate, he proudly mentioned, has always been among the top ranking Philippine consulates because of the dynamics of the leadership and the community.
DCG Bong looks back at his six year stint that began in August 2011, and regarded it as successful that began with a “wonderful welcome surprise.” “Right from the start, I was touched by how the community welcomed me warmly. The organizations were project-driven and had so much initiative. This helped me in my work.”
DCG Bong started his post as legal officer and head of the assistance to nationals section from 2011 to 2014. He dealt with distressed Filipinos who came to the consulate for personal assistance for health, calamities, or domestic violence, as well as those with employment and immigration issues.
As legal officer, he worked with various law offices in order to provide legal education and action on cases on human trafficking and deportation.
He said that the Warden System, which was composed of point person Filipino leaders and volunteers in the 10 northeastern states under the jurisdiction of the consulate, was effective in providing information and immediate assistance to Filipinos. This was instituted during the time of Amb. de Leon and was proven effective in responding to the impact of hurricane Sandy in 2012.
“The Warden System provided the way to quick action and showed the Filipinos’ concern for one another in times of calamities like hurricane Sandy, the bombing at the Boston Marathon in April 2013, and the gas explosion in the Bronx in June this year,” recalled DCG Bong.
In 2014, he handled the Political and Economic sections of the consulate where businesses and entrepreneurial efforts converge and are incubated. On the political aspect of the work, he cited that the passage of the Congressional Medal for World War II Filipino veterans was a landmark victory.
“The effort on full rights for the Filipino veterans could be built up on it,” he quipped. In October this year, gold medals will be awarded to the veterans in Washington, DC and will be attended by Gen. Antonio Taguba and other veterans.
DCG Bong admitted that the more challenging part of diplomatic work is on legislative advocacy. “You need a good strategy to push for legislative reforms and work closely with the Filipino community in order to lobby for the changes.”
There is a bright and wide room for economic advancements both in the Philippine and American markets. The Philippine Consulate has been making conscious effort at encouraging economic investors to go to the Philippines. Consul Bong recalls that he and Amb. de Leon had presented the Philippines’ investment climate to Fortune’s Top 500 in order to intensify business dynamics in the country.
The reaching out effort had paid off, said DCG Bong, as the DFA has a tracking system whereby it monitors the flow of investments as a result of government to business networking.
Small and medium Filipino entrepreneurs have likewise been encouraged and provided support to make in-roads to the American market. Proof of this is the distribution of the world famous dried mango products, among other food items, into huge food chains such as Costco and Walmart.
The exquisite Philippine fabrics like pinya and jusi have likewise gained recognition fashion shows and trade fairs.
“For as long as the efforts are sustained and with correct price point, Philippine trade and business will continue to grow,” he opined with optimism. (DCG Bong Carino featured photo by Nonoy Rafael)