Photo: (Above) Labour Attache Joan Lavilla, Political Minister Louis Alferez, Ambassador Manalo, Council Leader Brenda Arthur, Lord Mayor Jenny Lay, Norwich Sheriff Chris Higgins, and Council Chief Executive Officer Laura McGillivray.
(Norwich, 10 March 2012) – The Philippine Ambassador to the UK, H.E. Enrique Manalo, made a working visit to Norwich City on 9-10 March 2012. It was the first time that a Philippine official made such a visit, which included meetings with local legislators and council officials, hospital executives and the Filipino community.
“This is my first working visit outside of London and I chose Norwich for its longstanding linkage with the Philippines through the city’s Filipino nurses. I was the first Filipino official to make such a visit in the last 60 years. I believe the relationship holds much promise in fostering closer people-to-people interaction between our two countries, but also in enhancing bilateral economic diplomacy and cultural and tourism promotion”, said Ambassador Manalo.
On the first day, Ambassador Manalo met with Lord Mayor Jenny Lay, Council Leader Brenda Arthur and Chief Executive Laura McGillivray at the historic Norwich City Hall.
Chief Executive McGillivray told the Ambassador that Filipinos in Norwich have been welcomed by the local community and it was encouraging that they have become more visible in recent years and participating in city activities.
The Ambassador discussed possible academic and research linkages with Norwich’s top institutions, particularly the University of East Anglia and the Norwich Research Park both of which specialize in climate change, sustainable agriculture and food security.
Ambassador Manalo and Chief Executive McGillivray promised to continue exploring possible cooperation in these areas in the near future.
The Ambassador also visited the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), one of the country’s top medical institutions. Some 120 Filipino staff are employed in the hospital, most as ward and operating theatre nurses. The Ambassador met with NNUH Chairman David Prior and various department heads, and also went on a tour of the main hospital wards to meet Filipino staff on duty.
Chairman Prior shared with the Ambassador his praise for the Filipino nursing staff, whose “skills, competence, work ethic and compassion” contributed “significantly to the excellent performance of the hospital.” He added that Filipino nurses were the “preferred staff” of NNUH doctors, especially in surgical theatre operations.
The Ambassador expressed pride in the work of the Filipino nurses, noting their positive role in the success of the NNUH and the welfare of the host community in Norwich, while at the same time remaining committed to helping their families and friends back in the Philippines.
On his second day, Ambassador Manalo met with members of the Filipino community at the consular outreach activity conducted by the Embassy. The Ambassador also inducted the new set of officers of the community organization Pinoys in Norwich-Aksyon Samahan (PINAS). He encouraged the community to continue showing the best of the Filipino and help promote the country to their British friends and colleagues.
Ambassador Manalo was likewise the main guest of a tree-planting and plaque-unveiling ceremony organized by the Town Council of Thorpe St. Andrew and Economic Secretary to the Treasury and Norwich North MP Chloe Smith. The ceremony was in commemoration of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee year.
Norwich is the capital of Norfolk county in the east of England. It has been known as a thriving trading city since 520 AD and for a long time was considered England’s “second city” after London. With a current population of 230,000 and a per capita income of GBP 21,716, Norwich considers itself among the country’s top retail and financial centres and a base for world-class academic and scientific research.
Some 500 Filipinos reside in Norwich City. A significant number work as medical staff at NNUH, while others are employed as ground staff of KLM Airlines and managers of Domino’s Pizza.