Australian Embassy
The Philippines

SP141020-2: Testimonial Luncheon in Palo, Leyte

Speech by Ambassador Bill Tweddell
Testimonial Luncheon
Palo, Leyte
20 October 2014

• Honourable Carlo Loreto, Vice Governor, Province of Leyte
• Veterans, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat!
Maupay nga aga ha iyo ngatanan!

Thank you for the opportunity to say a few words at this impressive Testimonial Luncheon.

Today’s Liberation events remind me of the enduring friendship that Australia and the Philippines share in both good times and in bad.   

We stood alongside our Filipino comrades seventy year ago, just as we did twelve months ago after Typhoon Yolanda. 

Our Defence Attache Colonel Bruce Murray and I first came to Leyte this time last year for the Landing Commemoration and were overcome by the friendship and hospitality afforded by everyone that I met.

Colonel Murray and I were delighted to share lunch with the wonderful Veterans that were here for the Liberation and share their stories. I am heartened to see so may have returned after the devastation of last year.

On 17 November last year ona visit to Leyte, I accompanied colonel Murray and C130 crews on their mercy mission to deliver water, shelter and food.

We returned to Leyte in December last year after Yolanda with our Foreign Minister, the Honourable Julie Bishop, and witnessed first-hand Australian surgeons operating on survivors.

The Minister and I also watched Army Engineers work alongside Filipino comrades to repair schools in Ormoc. I met the ship’s crew of HMAS Tobruk before they delivered 200 tons of relief goods to the northern Islands of Visayas.

Everywhere I went I was met by the smiling faces of the people of Leyte, the same welcome I had experienced here twelve months ago.

Resilience of the Filipino people is the enduring memory of all Australians that came to assist.

The same resilience that was demonstrated by the wonderful Veterans that we honour here today, to overcome adversity, no matter how hard the challenge.

There now stands a memorial at MacArthur Landing to ensure that generations to come do not forget the contribution made by Australians in the Liberation of the Philippines seventy years ago.

We were greatly honoured that among the VIP guests at our dedication ceremony were General Catapang and all three Service Chiefs. It is a measure of the depth and long-standing nature of the defence links between our two countries that two of the four are graduates of Australian Defence course - as are several other of our guests.

It also stands as a reminder that Australia and the Philippines have an enduring friendship, for the good times and the bad.

Mabuhay ang mga veterans!
Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
Maraming salamat po!