Inside US Embassy Manila

USEmbassy001

The US Embassy Manila is the office of the United States of America government in Philippine soil, located just besides the old Dewey Boulevard, now Roxas Boulevard. The Ambassador of the United States to the Philippines makes this as his office, and at the same time this is the first gateway for Filipinos who like to see, study, work, or even live in the US.  The US Embassy in Manila is more than just a diplomatic office and a visa entry; it has history to share in the formation of what is now the Philippine Republic.

US Ambassador Henry Thomas Jr at Henry Mucci Balcony at the Chancery Building

I got invited by the US Embassy to join Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. for an event celebrating Internet Freedom last March of 2009. It was my second time entering US territory…in the Philippines. My first time was when I was a kid when my dad has an engineering project. The US Embassy in Manila has one of the toughest security measures in the country, given the United States’ prominence in world affairs—no photos are allowed within the premises, nor even take photos outside the compound (reason why I have limited photos here)—except on special permission or areas that are allowed to take photos. Cellphones are also not allowed inside, except with permission coming from the upper management of the embassy.

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08-23-2010: Bloodshed at Quirino Grandstand Manila

Quirino Grandstand Flags. The location of the hostage drama

Indeed, Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, central Manila, capital of the Philippines, is one historical place. It was here where several presidents took their oaths, celebrate the independence of the country from the United States, concerts and a whole lot more. It is a landmark dedicated to the former President Elpidio Quirino. The Grandstand that I guess all Filipinos know and synonymous to Luneta and Rizal Park-just several meters away from the place. On August 01, 2010, the 15th President of the Republic of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino III, took oath here. On August 23, 2010-a massacre unfolds as a former policeman took hostage of Hong Kong nationals in a stand-off that left the hostage and several hostages dead, and a mark of trauma in the image of the Philippines in the international community. Luneta has seen another blood spilt over her domain.

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Just Dropping by at the Philippine Congress

Batasang Pambansa - The Philippine Congress Main Hall

It was one Monday rainy afternoon. I was in a mission: To drop by at a Congressman’s office for an official endorsement. I have been to Malacañang, the Senate and the Supreme Court, but I haven’t been to The House of Representatives or locally known as Batasang Pambansa-that’s the legislative center of the Philippine Republic.

Yup. The area I guess most of us know as the center stage of the State of the Nation Addresses (SONA) of Philippine presidents, and as some critics would say, “The Crocodile Pit.” The Batasang Pambansa is where the Philippine assembly of legislative representatives from all over the archipelago, converge and make laws for the republic. Given the bicameral nature of our government, The House of the Representatives is the “lower house” while the Senate (which is in Pasay City) is the “upper house.” However, the said lower house is composed of influential people coming from the local governments.

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