President Benigno S. Aquino III’s Speech during the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc. (FFCCCII) and the Filipino-Chinese Community’s Joint Celebration of the 118th Philippine Independence Fay and 15th Filipino-Chinese Friendship day
Reception Hall, PICC, CCP complex, Pasay City
10 June 2016
Our Resident Pastor, Dr. Cecilio Pedro; Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong; officers and members of the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Inc.; fellow workers in government; ladies and gentlemen; mga minamahal ko pong kababayan: Magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat.

As I approach the end of my term, I find myself often looking back on the past six years. One of the things that stands out to me is the fact that I can no longer remember how many times I have met with your Federation. If someone were to ask me, I can only answer: very many times. With that answer, naturally, comes the thankfulness that you have not grown tired of me.

You will probably remember that in the past, I have spoken about your civic duty as Filipino citizens. That was not just to remind you to pay the proper taxes, and that was not because the FFCCCII hasn’t done enough. No—it is precisely because, since your establishment in 1954, your Federation has proven time and again that you are more than willing to help your fellow Filipinos.

There is the average of 45 medical missions you hold every year, where at least 800 Filipinos are attended to per mission, and vitamins and medicines are provided free of charge. There are the various ways in which you’ve helped our national police: through donations of vehicles, equipment, and even funding. There is your drive to provide students with safe and durable classrooms, and families with low-cost housing. There is your consistency, your dependability whenever disaster strikes: whether it’s a fire, a typhoon, or an earthquake, the FFCCCII has always been ready to help victims of calamities.

Of course, since I’m standing in front of some of the most successful businessmen in the country, I’m reminded of the fact that you account for the majority of the thousand largest corporations in the country, through which you have helped to grow the economy and provided jobs. Finally, I must note the important role you play in fostering greater understanding and closer ties of friendship between the Philippines and China—whether in terms of cultural activities, trade and investment, or even in the informal manner in which you have served as a channel of communications, given the disputes in the sea known by many names.
These efforts have certainly helped us both, the Philippines and China, continue to pursue peace, stability, and inclusive progress in our part of the world. This is a duty I’ve thanked you many times before. Yet, given the weight of my responsibilities these past six years, I have to express my gratitude for the way you have taken part in building our nation. In your actions, there is clear recognition of the challenges that Filipinos face in terms of poverty and security, and a desire to help. In particular, allow me to extend a special thanks to Dr. Alfonso Uy, Mr. Tan Ching, Dr. Alfonso Siy, Mr. Angel Ngu, and all those who led your federation while I was President, and proved to be very able partners.

It seemed only fitting that we honor the FFCCCII through a Presidential Citation, but what my administration has done goes beyond that. Since 2010, we have worked to repay the contributions of organizations like yours and, indeed, of all other Filipinos. Each of us took up the burden, each of us took up the task and look how far we have come. We are the new ‘Darling of Asia;’ our economy is among the most resilient and the best performing in the world, which I’m sure you have felt in your respective businesses. More than 7 million Filipinos have risen above the poverty line—7 million Filipinos who have the ability and the confidence to work in your factories and offices, or who have the capacity to buy your products and make use of your services. Indeed: There remains so much optimism for the Philippines, and I’m sure that you share this sentiment.

This is the last time I will be celebrating Philippine Independence and Filipino-Chinese Friendship Day with you as President. With only 20 days left, tonight is perhaps my official farewell to the FFCCCII. At the same time, I also speak to you as a friend and partner who wants nothing more than to see all of you succeed, and who has worked for that these past six years. My duties as Chief Executive end on June 30. At noon on that day, I will be just like you: an ordinary Filipino citizen doing his part, hoping for a brighter future in the coming years, not only for our country, but also and more importantly for the entire world.

Again: To sha din long tsong, and good night.