[PHOTO - US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry Thomas, center, and Philippine Congressman Rufus Rodriguez, left, walk together following a wreath-laying ceremony marking Veterans Day, which pays tribute to Americans and Filipinos who fought during the war, at the American Cemetery in Taguig yesterday. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)]

MANILA, NOVEMBER 12, 2012 (PHILSTAR) By Rainier Allan Ronda - US Ambassador to Manila Harry Thomas Jr. thanked yesterday all American and Filipino veterans of World War II, as well as other servicemen who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, during the US Veterans’ Day celebrations at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in Taguig City.

“We owe our service members and veterans a debt of gratitude. Our debt to our veterans cannot be repaid with a mere hero’s welcome alone,” Thomas said.

Thomas said “we must also ensure that all veterans are well taken care of and have opportunities for continuing education and disability and health benefits.”

[PHOTO -Anita Peñaflor, 88, a woman veteran of World War II, walks along the Wall of the Missing, where names of fallen Filipino and US soldiers are recorded, on Veterans Day at the American cemetery in Taguig City. RICHARD A. REYES]

Thomas said that newly re-elected US President Barack Obama has vowed to improve the Philippine Veterans Act.

“Today we honor those who answered the call to service when the United States found it necessary to take up arms to defend that which we hold dear. Among them are our service members in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other areas of conflict and instability, who have chosen to be away from their loved-ones in order to preserve our freedom,” he said.

The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has been in the Philippines since 1922 and it celebrates next year 90 years of committed service to veterans in the Philippines, Thomas said.

“Our Veterans Affairs office in Manila is the only VA office located overseas – a testament to the strong ties and still-growing partnership between the United States and the Philippines. This year alone, the VA office served 15,000 veterans and their family members and provided world class health care and over $16 million in monthly benefits, upholding ‘the sacred trust’ our nation has with its veterans,” he added.


Tagalog is Canada’s fastest growing language – Harper By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated November 11, 2012 - 12:00am

[PHOTO -Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his wife Laureen wave from a jeepney during their visit to Fort Santiago in Intramuros, Manila yesterday. AP

MANILA, Philippines - Tagalog is now the fastest growing language in Canada, visiting Prime Minister Stephen Harper said yesterday.

Harper said Filipino communities are also the fastest growing in Canada, even in the farthest and most remote areas.

He said he would also soon have a Filipino cousin-in-law.

Results of the 2011 Census of Population: Linguistic Characteristics of Canadians released by Statistics Canada (StatCan) showed that Tagalog is the fifth most common non-official language spoken in Canadian households.

“Nearly 279,000 people reported speaking Tagalog most often in 2011, up from 170,000 five years earlier,” the survey said.

StatCan noted “the home languages showing the strongest growth between 2006 and 2011 were primarily Asian,” and the “the population that reported speaking the Philippine-based language Tagalog increased by 64 percent, the highest growth.”

Harper also expressed admiration for Filipinos for being hardworking and law-abiding.

He said Filipinos are present “in literally every community and make valuable contributions to every sector of our economy.”

“I’ll be remiss if I did not take a moment to recognize the particular contribution of our country’s first Filipino-Canadian senator, Senator Tobias Enverga Jr. (photo at left).

It was my great pleasure in September of this year to name Senator Enverga to our Upper House, and I wish to thank him for is personal contribution to Canada. Indeed, the participation of the Filipino community throughout Canadian society helps ensure our country’s continued strength and success,” he said.

“On a personal note, President, Aquino, it has been my pleasure to be alongside you at various international summit over the past couple of years as we promote our shared values of democracy, good governance, the rule of law, and protection of human rights,” Harper said.

Harper arrived in the country Friday night and met with Aquino and other officials at Malacañang yesterday.

Aquino also hosted a state luncheon for Harper, his wife Laureen and members of his delegation, including Enverga.

Before going to the Palace, Harper paid tribute to national hero Jose Rizal by leading a wreath laying ceremony at the Rizal Park in Manila.

Aquino said ties between the Philippines and Canada are getting closer because of people-to-people links. There are around 800,000 Filipinos in Canada, or almost 10 percent of Filipinos abroad. “Therefore, it behooves us to really work closely with the Canadian authorities. Given the fact that we both share fundamental democratic values, we believe in the importance of both our peoples. We owe this growth in the ties to the very reasonable innovation policies of Canada that have given our countrymen opportunities,” Aquino said.

Aquino said the two countries should work together to guarantee the protection and welfare of Filipinos in Canada and ensure that the labor requirements are met.

“As such, we have discussed labor cooperation and mobility,” he said.

During the state luncheon, Aquino noted that the ambassador of Canada was the first to present his credentials to the administration of his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, after the EDSA Revolution.

“And my mother, too, was, I am told, the first Philippine president to make an official visit to Canada,” he said. “We, in the Philippine government, welcome this chance to deepen the engagement between our countries. There is much that we can do together for the mutual benefit of our peoples – from cooperation to the procurement of defense and military-related equipment, to strengthen economic ties, to our learning from your government’s experience in allowing the exercise of self-government for a number of your peoples. Indeed, we have made a promising start and I’m confident that this visit will herald a new era of even greater cooperation between our nations,” Aquino said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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