Saturday, February 6, 2010
NEW ROLE FOR HISTORIC R-P CHANCERY
(Excerpts from an article I wrote for Pinoy Herald, Feb. 2010 edition)
A blast from the past, the historic Philippine chancery finally reopens its doors in a few weeks.
And to think the structure was in danger of being condemned just last year. A fire gutted its interior, was dangerously decrepit and infested by rodents. The DC government slapped it a $36,000 tax.
Consul General Domingo Nolasco revealed construction is in full swing – they’re using the first floor for consular services – and expected to be completed in March.
“This is going to be a big help for the hundreds of people who have to transact business with the consular section,” he explained.
The present consular office can probably comfortably accommodate only 20 people, forcing the spillover to wait outside – an unwelcome proposition in winter or in the peak of summer.
“We have to be concerned because many come from really far away places, some as far away as Alabama, Tennessee or Florida just to work on their papers,” Nolasco said.
The old chancery stands opposite the present Philippine Embassy building along Massachusetts Ave. NW. It was purchased in the 1930s by Resident Commissioner (the Philippine representative to the US Congress) Joaquin Elizalde. It served as the seat of the Philippine government-in-exile during World War II.
Nolasco said they are still spending under budget, which amounts to $350,000.
He asserts the money spent for renovating the old chancery is an investment.
Consular services not only generate revenues, it will also boost chances the historic edifice’s diplomatic privilege can be restored and the Philippines will be spared paying taxes on the property.