On October 9, officials of the cities of Santiago and Cauayan of the Philippines and Rustavi of Georgia signed a symbolic reaffirmation of their historic tripartite “sister-city” relationship.
Representing Georgia was the delegation from Rustavi city—the first ever Georgian local government unit to formally send an official mission to Asia—led by Gocha Shavadze, Deputy Chairman of the Rustavi Municipal Council. Joining him were Teona Galogra, Head of Rustavi Economics Department; Rustavi Councilors Merab Sulaberidze and Davit Skhirtladze; Georgian Consulate Public Relations Director Melissa Dizon; and Honorary Consul of Georgia in the Philippines Thelmo O. Cunanan Jr. The delegation travelled to the Philippines to attend the 275th founding anniversary of Cauayan City.
Representing the Philippines was Mayor Bernard Faustino Dy of Cauayan City and Mayor Joseph Salvador Tan of the independent component city of Santiago, joined by their respective councillors.
The event was held at the conference hall of Hotel Andrea in Cauayan City, where Mayors Dy and Tan and Mr Shavadze signed the confirmation declaration, affirming the parties’ commitment to, among others, friendship and cooperation in the fields of commerce, tourism, environment protection, public health, education, and planning. The signing was witnessed by the media, government officials, and private sector stakeholders, including officials of San Miguel Corporation and Tabacalera.
Mayors Dy and Tan and Mr Shavadze then gave official messages in behalf of their respective local government units. Mayor Dy thanked the Georgians for coming to his city on the occasion of its 275th founding and vowed to establish closer ties with Rustavi. This was reiterated by Mayor Tan, who pledged the full support of his city for greater tripartite cooperation. For his part, Mr Shavadze thanked the Filipinos for reaching out to Rustavi and for welcoming their “Georgian brothers and sisters with open arms”.
The closing remarks were delivered by Consul Cunanan who gave a background of the tripartite agreement, which was signed by the parties in June 2014.
Consul Cunanan, who spearheaded the sister-city initiative, emphasized the historic value of the agreement in Georgian-Philippine and Georgian-Asian relations. “This is the first such agreement between a Georgian local government unit and its counterparts in the Philippines and the entire Asia. The agreement is also unique as it brings three cities together in a spirit of friendship and cooperation,” he said. “I wish to thank the dynamic leadership of the cities of Rustavi, Cauayan, and Santiago for making this possible.”
After the ceremony, the officials exchange gifts, with the Filipinos giving the Georgian native handicrafts. The Georgians reciprocated with bottles of fine wine and chacha from the Kakheti region and traditional souvenir daggers.
ABOUT THE CONSUL (A.H.) Thelmo Cunanan Jr. has been Honorary Consul of Georgia in the Philippines since early 2011. He is a businessman, sportsman, television talkshow host, writer, amateur aviator, and philanthropist. He laid the groundwork for socio-cultural and economic relations between the two countries by founding the Philippines–Georgia Business and Friendship Association, Inc. in 2003 and was the first Filipino citizen to formally engage the Georgian government. Consul Cunanan has worked tirelessly to promote Georgia–Philippines relations and regularly gives radio and television interviews about the subject. He has written numerous articles about Georgia and is often invited by colleges, universities, and organizations all over the Philippines to talk about the country’s culture and heritage.
Consul Cunanan sits on the board of Philippine conglomerate San Miguel Corporation (Hong Kong). He is the President and Founder of Zoo Crew Philippines, Inc. and Chairman of the First Filipino Movement. He is a graduate of the Ateneo de Manila Grade School, High School, College, and Business School (MBA). Consul Cunanan is the FOUNDING DEAN of the Corps of Honorary Consuls of Georgia.