CHICAGO (JGL)– President Benigno Aquino III thanked May 7 Canada’s Governor General David Johnston for “Canada’s enduring support” when it deployed a contingent of the Canadian Royal Force to help rebuild the devastated communities shortly after super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the Philippines.
The thanksgiving was expressed by President Aquino during a toast at the state dinner hosted by Governor General Johnston held at the Rideau Hall, 1 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario.
Aquino said, “Canada is a nation that is indeed close to the hearts of many Filipinos. Over the decades, my countrymen have seen many friends and family members set their roots in this nation.
“I understand that there are now over half a million members of the Filipino community who work and live dignified lives here. We thank you for the hospitality that your people and government have shown my countrymen.
“A primary intention of my visit is to express my nation’s gratitude for Canada’s enduring support. When Typhoon Haiyan struck our nation, Canada came to our aid, deploying a contingent of the Canadian Royal Force to help rebuild devastated communities. We also thank you for your active support for our peacemaking efforts that will hopefully end decades of conflict in the Mindanao region.
“In the aspect of economic and social development, Canada has likewise demonstrated a profound belief in the capacity of my nation to succeed. We thank you for choosing the Philippines as a Country of Focus and for designating us as a Priority Emerging Market in our part of the world.
“The determination of Canada to see the Philippines attain greater heights is without doubt evident in the doubling of official development assistance from your country.”
For his part, Gov. Gen. Johnston said, “It’s an honour and a great pleasure for my wife, Sharon, and me to welcome you to Rideau Hall, home of the people of Canada.
“This is your first visit to Canada, yet I was delighted to see that you are forging somewhat of a family tradition. Your mother visited this nation in 1989, the first president of the Philippines to conduct a State visit. More than 25 years later, we are pleased to greet you in the same spirit of friendship and co-operation.
“I was so touched this afternoon to watch as you planted a tree beside the one planted by your mother. With the exception of those planted by our beloved Queen and her children, this is, in fact, a first at Rideau Hall. Nowhere else on the grounds will you find two generations of trees—planted by parent and child, mother and son—standing side by side. I have no doubt that your tree will thrive and grow tall and strong, as your mother’s tree has done.
“Over the past few decades, Canada’s Filipino community has grown from a modest one to one of our country’s largest communities.
ONE OF THE LARGEST FILIPINO COMMUNITIES
“In fact, Canada is now home to one of the largest Filipino communities in the world, with well over half a million people tracing their roots to the Philippines.
“Canadians of Filipino origin contribute so much to our society in so many ways. What’s more, they bring our countries closer together.
“With such a strong base, there are so many ways to grow our relationship.
“Take our ties in education, for instance. A growing numbers of Filipino students are coming here to learn. More than 2 000 in 2013 alone.
“This is cause for celebration. Students from the Philippines make great contributions to Canadian society during their time here. Canadian students are also able to learn a great deal from their colleagues and classmates from the Philippines.
“As a former university leader and a lifelong learner myself, I am encouraged by such exchanges. We gain so much when we practice what I like to call the diplomacy of knowledge, which is all about learning and innovating across borders—and oceans!
“I also want to say how pleased I am to note the steady growth in our commercial ties, no doubt strengthened by our people-to-people ties. Bilateral trade reached an impressive $1.8 billion in 2014, a 2.5 percent increase over the previous year.”
Early in the day, President Aquino planted a red spruce tree beside the red maple tree planted by his late mother Corazon Aquino in 1989.
Governor General Johnston presented President Aquino the same spade used by his mother to throw soil on the base of his tree.
In his short remarks prior to the tree planting, Johnston said that the tree symbolizes Aquino’s first visit to their country and the lasting friendship between the Philippines and Canada.
“Today, you will, quite literally, follow in your mother’s footsteps, who not only visited Canada in 1989 as president, but who also planted a tree at Rideau Hall. Soon, you will plant your own tree by your mother’s to mark this visit,” Johnston said.
Prior to the tree planting, President Aquino conducted an inspection of the guard of honor where Aquino and Johnston offered remarks.
On Friday, May 8, Aquino and party went to Toronto, Ontario; then to Vancouver, British Columbia on Saturday before returning to Manila.