New Philippine Diplomat Says Riyadh Post a Challenge
by Manuel L. Quezon III
RIYADH, 30 May 2006 — A new official at the Philippine Embassy, Minister and Consul General Nestor N. Padalhin, said that working in the Kingdom would be a challenge because of the large OFW population.
Padalhin arrived Friday night as replacement for Minister Mariano A. Dumia, who had been recalled to the home office earlier this year.
“My assignment in the Kingdom is a new challenge, like the other new posts where I have served. But this is particularly challenging because of the sheer number of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) which crosses 1.2 million as per figures of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs,” Padalhin told Arab News yesterday.
Padalhin, who arrived in Riyadh after serving for three years and three months at the Philippine Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, took over from Second Secretary and Consul Germinia A. Usudan, as the charge d’affaires at the Philippine mission here.
Usudan, who is expected to leave with her family at the end of June unless the DFA extends her tour of duty, took over as charge d’affaires after Ambassador Bahnarim A. Guinomla was assigned to the Philippine mission in Istanbul, Turkey.
The new minister said that, “the number of Filipinos in the Kingdom is in stark contrast to the number of OFWs in Beirut, which touches only 40,000.” While in Beirut, he tried to unify the OFWs there by holding different events, like a Filipino festival every December.
The embassy and the Filipino community there were also able to donate one classroom in response to the Classroom Galing sa Mamamayang Pilipino Abroad (CGMA) project of the government.
Padalhin said that pending the arrival of the new Philippine ambassador in the Kingdom, he’ll work hard to “unify the OFWs who have formed different groups.” As per embassy records, there are more than 100 OFWs groups at present, according to Third Secretary and Vice Consul Romulo Victor Israel.
During her official visit to Saudi Arabia in May, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo announced in Jeddah that she had appointed Special Envoy Antonio P. Villamor as the new Philippine ambassador in Saudi Arabia.
His appointment is subject to approval by the Senate’s Committee on Appointments.
Padalhin has served in different countries since joining the DFA in 1975: As second secretary and vice consul in Kobe, Japan (1979-83); second secretary and consul general in Bangkok, Thailand, and deputy permanent representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and Pacific (1983-1986); first secretary and consul general in Seoul, South Korea (1986-1988); consul in Seattle, the US (1991-1993); minister and consul general in Nairobi, Kenya (1994-1996) and minister and consul general at the Philippine Embassy in Beirut (1994-1996).
He has finished the academic requirements for a doctorate degree at the Lyceum of the Philippines and holds a Master of Arts degree also from Lyceum (1981). He graduated magna cum laude both for his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science from Manuel L. Quezon University.