By Marivir R. Montebon
“Our kababayans here will have a say on that. But what happens tomorrow will affect all of us.”
– Consul General Tess de Vega on the US elections
New York City – The East Coast’s newly installed Consul General for New York Maria Theresa Dizon –De Vega told members of the local Filipino press here that in her watch, the Philippine Consulate will strengthen community relations outside the tri-state area and improve on its consular services. “We are going to move forward horizontally,” she said at the first ConGen Press Hour on Monday, November 7 at the Kalayaan Hall.
De Vega, who was the chief coordinator of the Department of Foreign Affairs from 2013-2016 in Manila, is actually making a come-back after her brief stint at the Philippine Consulate from 2011-2013.
At the press conference hosted by Vice Consul Khrys Corpuz, De Vega welcomed familiar and unfamiliar faces of the media as she responded to questions, ranging from diplomatic relations and safety to the cost of photocopy services at the Consulate.
She noted that the Consulate will start new projects and continue the flagship projects on the annual assembly of organizations, the Warden System, the Homecoming sa Konsulado, and a host of well-attended cultural and business programs which her predecessor, Amb. Mario de Leon had implemented.
When asked about her assessment of the safety and investment climate of the Philippines during the Duterte administration, she said, “I do not feel any less safe in my three and a half years of stay. There is high tourist arrival. And in terms of investment, the Philippines is one bright area in Asia. We have cut down processing times of business. The local government units are responding well on this,” she explained.
A handful of media practitioners drifted toward the US elections on November 8, Tuesday, and asked De Vega’s opinion about it. She refrained from making a comment as it is not mandated among foreign diplomats. “Our kababayans here will have a say on that. But what happens tomorrow will affect all of us.”
Sonny Austria of the Filipino Reporter asked De Vega if there has been a change in the diplomatic relations between the US and the Philippines, to which she assured that defense and diplomatic relations remain the same. “There has been an increase in people to people exchanges. The US continues to be a very important ally,” she said.
A crewmember of the I am Pinoy Proud Ako online TV, Pong Alerta, among other issues, asked De Vega the high cost of photocopy services ($.25) at the Consulate as compared to commercial establishments, to which De Vega said it was meant to cover for the rent of the copier and not for profit for the Consulate.
Alerta also asked the Consul General on the wisdom of holding a party at the posh Sheraton Hotel which may be contrary to the Duterte administration’s call for austerity. She light-heartedly answered that the party is tendered by the Philippine community to welcome her and not an event of the Philippine Consulate.
Lumen Castaneda, a member of the Fil-Am Press Club and community leader, took the initiative of clarifying that the event is an effort of various organizations which is being paid for by attending individuals.
De Vega holds a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of the Philippines in 1989 and a Master’s Degree in English at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario in Canada in 1991. She passed the Philippine Bar in 2000 and has a graduate diploma in China Business Law (with distinction) at the University of Hong Kong.
De Vega is married to Eduardo Jose de Vega, currently the Philippine Ambassador to Mexico. They have a daughter, Montserrat. (Photos by Jeanette Bocobo Marco and Elton Lugay. With a Press Release from the Philippine Consulate.)