Filipinos in SF hail Paynor’s appointment as envoy to US
SAN FRANCISCO– In perhaps the most challenging time that puts to the test the close relationship between the Philippines and the United States, Filipino community leaders and the Philippines consul general in this city hailed the appointment of former Consul General to San Francisco Marciano Paynor Jr. as the Philippines’ ambassador to the US.
With the perceived uneasiness brought about by recent events in the just-concluded Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Laos, that included the cancelation of talks between Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Barack Obama compounded by some controversial statements attributed to Duterte, the diplomatic experience and expertise of Paynor to preservation the usually solid RP-US friendship would certainly come in handy.
Current Philippine Consulate in San Francisco Consul-General Henry Bensurto Jr. welcomed the Paynor’s appointment as Ambassador Jose Cuisia replacement. “He has a wealth of knowledge and experience essentially on how a foreign service post should be run. And this is what he brings to the table.”
He noted that Paynor was the chief of protocol in Malacanang and has served under different presidents and administrations. “When you are able to do that, you have served well,” Bensurto asserts. He added that Paynor is a team player. “He does not work as an isolated individual, but he has always emphasized the strength and importance of working as a group.”
“These are all very important attributes because in dealing with the United States, one must have the diplomatic skills, brilliance, intelligence and experience. All of these will help him in terms of charting the direction for the new Philippine-U.S. relation under the Duterte administration.”
On the issue of the South China Sea, which is very close to Bensurto’s heart as the Philippines’ foremost expert on maritime law, “the ambassador to the United States becomes a critical player in the political dynamics involving the US and China, which is now a superpower.”
“Ambassador Paynor will fill the shoes fantastically. We are looking forward to that and we are all excited,” Bensurto continued.
Broadcast media veteran and incumbent executive director of the West Bay Pilipino Multi-Service Center Vivian Zalvidea-Araullo expressed confidence that Paynor is the man for the job.
“Because diplomacy is any country’s first line of defense, the Philippines is fortunate to have Ambassador Paynor representing Philippine interests in the US in the middle of what appears to be a major and important policy shift that may create strain in Philippine-American relations. Ambassador Paynor will also have to listen to what Filipino Americans say about said policy changes, how these affect them and their families, and convey those sentiments to the president,” Araullo stressed.
Araullo recalled that she first met Paynor when he was protocol officer for former President Fidel Ramos. As top news director at The Filipino Channel (TFC), Araullo collaborated with the SF Consulate headed by Paynor in outreach to Filipino Americans for their various consular needs.
“In both those functions, I can only describe Mr. Paynor as gracious, dignified, friendly and courteous–I’m very proud to have him represent the Philippines here,” Araullo said. “I’m certain that the US State Department is aware that it will be Ambassador Paynor’s chief responsibility to articulate President Duterte’s policy towards the US, whatever that may be.”
This early, Araullo has seen signs that Paynor and his team would do fine as shown by what she regarded as the good job they did in releasing a statement during the ASEAN summit, conveying the Philippines’ wish to “chart an independent foreign policy while promoting close ties with all nations, especially the US.”
Annual Kalayaan festivities Chairman Conrado Calalang was elated that the sadness felt by the Bay Area Fil-Ams when Paynor left the San Francisco Consulate turned to consolation as “the over three million Filipinos in the US, and 100 million back home will now benefit from his effective, unifying leadership and skilled diplomacy.”
“I believe there is no better time to leverage a resource like Ambassador Paynor, whose unique talents and style of leadership never fail to bring harmony in situations where there is disarray,” Calalang maintains.
“During his tenure in San Francisco, Ambassador Paynor was tireless in encouraging community members to help build inclusive organizations or stage events to help empower the Filipino American community. His constructive mentorship and his sincerity of purpose was instrumental in leading many of us to commit to working on some really great causes,” Calalang added.
For television producer Arnold Pedrigal, Paynor was always ready with his words of encouragement for events and programs that uplifted Bay Area Filipino Americans and their interests.
“One of the things I remember most with ConGen Paynor was his unwavering support for the community events that our Fil-Am organizations organized. Among the memorable encounters I had with him include the Filipino Entrepreneurs Network regular kapihan event, SF Kalayaan Event in 2012 where I was the co-chairperson, and of course his motivation for us to produce our public service TV program “Power ng Pinoy,” recounted Pedrigal.
Paynor joined the department of foreign affairs in 1983 and had tours of duty in Libreville, Gabon, Africa, Madrid and London, Senegal, Rwanda, Angola and Los Angeles, Rome and Israel.
One of his more notable accomplishments was when he opened the Philippine Embassy in Budapest, Hungary, as charge’ d’affaires and then later acted as consul where he witnessed and experienced the transition of Hungary from a communist state to a parliamentary republic.
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