History of the Philippine Consulate General

 

PCGBuilding1 The Philippine Consulate General New York was opened in 1946 in recognition of the importance of New York and the mid-Atlantic regions of the US, for the development of Philippine-US relations, as regards trade, finance, science, education and cultural exchange. The growing Filipino expatriate community in the northeast and the need to provide services and assistance, also underlined the urgent need to open a Philippine Consulate in New York, just months after the Republic of the Philippines gained independence and raised its flag as a free country.
PCGMap1 The first office of the Philippine Consulate General was located at 40 Exchange Place, in Wall Street, and was opened by the first Philippine Consul General in New York, the Honorable Jose P. Melencio, who served in that position from 1946-1951.
PCGBuilding2 In 1951, the Consulate General transferred to an office in 640 Fifth Avenue, under the leadership of Honorable Emilio Abello, Consul General 1951-53. He was succeeded by the Honorable Leopoldo Ruiz, Acting Consul General until 1953, who was followed by the Honorable Urbano Zafra, also Acting Consul General until 1954; and the Honorable Alejandro Galang, Acting Principal Officer, 1954-55.
PCGBuilding3 In 1955, the Philippine Consulate General New York relocated to an office in the 76th floor of the Empire State Building. At one time hailed as the Tallest Building in the World, it was under the leadership of the Honorable Raul Leuterio, Consul General from 1955-62, that the office of the Philippine Consulate General was moved to this landmark building. There it remained until 1962, when the Department of Foreign Affairs purchased the Kevorkian property on 13-15 E66 St.
PCGBuilding5

The property, located in the residential section with foreign missions and consulates nearby, was already an office-residence at the time of purchase. It was partially reconfigured to house the office of the Philippine Consulate General in the lower level, with access on 15 E66 Street, and the office of the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in the upper floors accessed from 13 E 66 street.

The Honorable Bartolome Umayam served as Consul General from 1962-67; the Honorable Alejandro Holigores, Consul General 1967-69; and the Honorable Pacifico Evangelista, Acting Principal Officer 1969-70. In 1970, the Honorable Ernesto C. Pineda assumed office as Consul General. Both the Mission and the Consulate remained in this location until 1974.

(Note: From 1980-1986, the property served as the residence for the Marcos family. After the 1986 People Power revolution, it was restored to the DFA. In 2007, repairs and restoration work was completed and the building now serves as the Official Residence of the Consul General and the Official Residence of the Permanent Mission to the UN.)

PCGBuilding4

In 1974 the Philippine Center was opened. Despite protests from architectural preservationists, the façade of the property had been redesigned by Architect Augusto Camacho in the austere “Maharlika” style typical of the government buildings during the Marcos Administration. Pre-fabricated cement slabs covered the classical 1912 design of Carrere & Hastings, the architects of the Frick Museum and the NY Public Library. The trio of roman arched doorways were replaced by two simple adobe rectangular openings and a main entrance topped by a timber-gable reminiscent of the Maranao panolong.

 (NOTE: In the 1990’s the pre-fabricated slabs were removed, revealing the original 1912 façade from the second floor upwards.)

 All the offices of the Philippine government, the Consulate General, the Mission to the UN, the Department of Trade and the Department of Tourism were relocated to this location, where they remain to this day.

The Honorable Ernesto C. Pineda served as Consul General until 1986. He was succeeded by the Honorable Francisco E. Rodrigo, Jr., who served as Consul General until 1988, followed in June 1988 by the Honorable Hermenigildo Garcia who remained at Post until July 1990. In February 1991, Honorable Rodolfo Arizala was assigned as Consul General, serving until the June1992.

In September 1993, the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General New York was enlarged by the closure of the Philippine Consulate General in Houston, Texas. In addition to the Northeastern states, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico and Oklahoma were added to the Post’s responsibility.

On 16 July 1994, Honorable Romeo Arguelles assumed his position as Consul General. He served in his position until October 1996. On 24 January 1997, Honorable Willy Gaa, assumed his position as Consul General, where he remained until 1999.

During this period the number of states under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Consulate General was reduced from 17 to 12, with the transfer of Texas and New Mexico to the Philippine Consulate in Los Angeles, Mississippi and Arkansas to the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, and the Virgin Islands to the Philippine Embassy in Washington DC, all in November 1997, in consideration of the geographical distance of these states from New York.

On 16 April 1999 the Honorable Linglingay F. Lacanlale assumed her position as Consul General and served in that capacity until 15 November 2003. During her tenure, consular jurisdiction over the states of Louisiana and Oklahoma were transferred to the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago, leaving the following states within the jurisdiction of the Consulate General in New York: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

The Honorable Cecilia B. Rebong, was the Head of Post from 25 November 2003 until the end of February 2011.  She was succeeded by the Honorable Mario L. De Leon, Jr. who assumed the position on 01 March 2011.

The Philippine Consulate General New York and our 25 staff and officers attend to a daily average of 150 separate walk-in transactions for Passport, Visa and Legal services, and over 250 calls, messages, letters and emails. The Assistance to Nationals Section monitors and attends to hundreds of legal cases involving Filipinos in distress. Our mobile team coordinates with partner organizations in the States within our jurisdiction where the community has achieved a significant density, to provide services during the weekends, twice a month between spring and fall. While the Cultural-Community section provides assistance to, and works in close concert with, over 300 registered community organizations throughout the year.

As the Filipino community grows and expands, our efforts to provide services to the approximately 500,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the Northeast US continues to develop and evolve. We look forward aiding in the steady progression of the Filipino community and the promotion and protection of Philippine interests in the United States.