7 August 2014
President Benigno S. Aquino III led the Philippine premiere of “Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust,” a one-hour documentary that tells the story of over 1,200 Jews that took shelter in the country during the Nazi Regime.
Produced by the 3 Roads Communications Incorporated, it showed the country’s participation, through former President Manuel L. Quezon, in helping Jews escape the Nazis and immigrate to the Philippines.
In his speech, President Aquino remembered the dark days wherein many Jewish people perished in the arms of the Nazi people. Though thousands of miles away, he said that the Philippines was there to help them and that the solidarity of Filipinos was never stopped despite the distance. During the leadership of President Quezon, the Chief Executive, together with United States High Commissioner Paul McNutt and U.S. Army Colonel Dwight Eisenhower, made a policy allowing the immigration of Jewish people to the Philippines.
Moreover, the President kept in mind the difficulties that the Jews have gone through as they left their homeland. He related this incident to his experience wherein his family moved to Boston during the Marcos dictatorship. But despite the unfamiliarity of the new environment, the President said that because of the hospitality of the people they met, they were able to start their lives anew.
“However different the situation maybe, the sadness of being torn away from familiar surroundings can be tempered by the warmth and friendship you encounter in a strange environment, which our countrymen demonstrated to our Jewish friends,” President Aquino said.
Likewise, he also extended his gratitude to the team behind the Rescue in the Philippines documentary and other Jewish organizations for their assistance during the relief operations after Typhoon Yolanda struck the nation, wherein they donated 2.5 million worth of prosthetics and raised 1.4 million dollars for the benefit of the survivors.
“It is my sincere hope that all those who watch this documentary, whether here today or in classrooms and homes in the coming years, will continue this virtuous cycle – will continue to make the choice to always help their fellowmen, whatever the future may bring,” the President ended.