15 July 2014 – The Office of the Philippine Honorary Consul Tomasso Berruti hosted an evening  reception to mark the 116th anniversary of Philippine Independence at the Hotel du Lac in the port city of Cotonou, Republic of Benin on May 30.

Philippine Ambassador to Nigeria Alex Lamadrid, accompanied by Assistance-To-Nationals officer Raymund Ondiano, graced the reception. More than 30 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) composed mostly of professionals from the IT, telecommunications, and construction sectors, Filipinos married to Beninese citizens, as well as Consul Berruti’s spouse Sabine, and children Leo and Margot, likewise attended the celebration.

The celebration commenced with the singing of the Philippine national anthem. Philippine Honorary Consul Berruti welcomed the Ambassador and the OFWs to the Philippine Independence Day celebration. He congratulated the Philippines on the 116th anniversary of Independence, and assured Filipinos of his availability round the clock should any of them require his assistance, particularly concerning labor and immigration-related matters. He also expressed hope for the strengthening of relations between the Philippines and Benin in all areas, particularly in the economic and political spheres.

In his remarks, Ambassador Lamadrid conveyed the greetings of President Benigno S. Aquino III on the occasion of Philippine Independence, and expounded on the this year’s theme, “Pagsunod sa Yapak ng mga Dakilang Pilipino: Tungo sa Malawakan at Permanenteng Pagbabago.” The Ambassador mentioned that OFWs are considered the new heroes of the Philippines thanks to their significant remittances which boost the country’s foreign exchange earnings. Ambassador Lamadrid exhorted the OFWs to save and invest their hard-earned money in the Philippines, in order to provide for the time when they will return to the country at the end of their contracts or upon their retirement.

The Ambassador also informed the OFWs about the consular and other services provided by the Philippine Embassy in Abuja. He also strongly encouraged them to register as overseas voters to enable them to exercise their right of suffrage during the May 2016 presidential elections.

Ambassador Lamadrid ended his remarks with a toast to the continued peace, progress and prosperity of the Philippines, to everyone’s success, and to the long-lasting friendship between the Philippines and Benin. The celebration was capped with the cutting of the Independence Day cake by the Ambassador, assisted by Consul Berruti and OFW leaders.

The Philippine Embassy team rendered consular and Assistance-to-Nationals (ATN) services, and conducted overseas voters registration for OFWs in Cotonou. END