With the Philippines’ recent focus on Cambodia and Singapore for stronger economic relations, many believe that Taiwan, our closest neighbor to the north, ought to be also focused on by the Duterte administration.
After all, Taiwan has proven to be a paragon of economic development and an indispensable link in the global industrial chain, being a bastion of the world’s high-tech industries.
But more than that, Taiwan has also proven to be a genuine friend of the Philippines. Not only is Taiwan taking good care of 135,000 OFWs over there who enjoy the same national minimum wage and health insurance as Taiwanese nationals do, it has always been helping underprivileged Filipinos here.
As I wrote previously, Taiwan has shown its steadfastness as a helpful neighbor—whom the Philippines owes a debt of gratitude for all the generous donations of rice and noodles, medical equipment, fire trucks, ambulances, among many others, aside from the countless medical missions for needy Filipinos in remote areas.
And much-needed help has come not only as part of the official functions of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines (TECO) led by Representative Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, but also from beyond TECO—from Taiwan’s charitable organizations and Taiwanese citizens engaged in charity work.
Just recently, a charity workshop dubbed “Fly with flying colors!” was held in Makati to raise funds for early childhood care and education development in the Philippines’ poor communities. The charity event was spearheaded by TV journalist-turned-jewelry designer Cheryl Yee, wife of the very amiable Minister Samson T.L. Chang, Deputy Representative of TECO.
With the help of her four local friends—Angela Hsu, Sotheby’s Philippine representative; Chim Namjildorj of Oriental Palace Chinese restaurant; Andrea Wei, wife of Winward Chu, managing director of BreadTalk; and Yvonne Yu, wife of toy businessman Albert Yu—Yee garnered tremendous success for the Dec. 7 charity event participated in by diplomats’ families and the Taiwanese community.
Her group achieved their goal of raising P100,000—donated to MovEd, a local NGO providing early childhood care and education in underserved localities—during the fun-filled afternoon tea party that featured a tutorial in which Yee shared her expertise and passion for DIY jewelry making, including the Birds of Paradise bracelet, one of her design collections inspired by the “vibrant culture of warm, passionate, and fun-loving Filipinos.”
With the friendly relationship Taiwan has fostered with the Philippines over the years, our closest neighbor to the north has proven right the Chinese proverb, “A neighbor who is near is better than a brother who is far off,” because Taiwan has always been among the first countries to respond and give timely help whenever disasters hit our country.
The ever-friendly Minister Chang, who was in the Philippines in 2013 when Super Typhoon Yolanda struck, attests to the scores of humanitarian flights made by ROC Air Force C-130 Hercules cargo planes airlifting more than 100 tons of relief goods consisting of ready-to-eat food, blankets, tents, and other badly needed items rushed to devastated areas in the Visayas just two days after disaster hit.
The swift and massive humanitarian assistance that included millions in cash donations were made possible as the Taiwan government called on its people for help and coordinated with the various humanitarian foundations in Taiwan like Tzu Chi, Fa Gu, Taiwan Red Cross, Buddha Light Mountain, Nan Chiapas, Ling Joy Mountain, and many others.
Taiwan’s help is relentless. Last Dec. 14, its government and the Tzu Chi Foundation jointly gave about P13 million in donations—consisting of cash and a total of 3,300 bags of rice—to victims of Typhoon Lawin (Haima) in Cagayan Province. (To be continued)