US Embassy trumpets programs, ‘easy visa’ processing, Americana in mall tour
MANILA, Philippines—The United States Embassy in Manila on Saturday launched a multimedia event to celebrate Philippine-US ties and showcase the embassy’s programs and services, including “friendly” tourist visa processing.
Dubbed “America in 3D: A Road Show in Diplomacy, Development and Defense,” the weekend-long multimedia, entertainment and education activity was launched at SM Mall of Asia, highlighting the favorite activities of Filipinos and Americans such as shopping, food and music.
Ambassador Philip Goldberg described Philippine-US ties as “very strong and very rich,” pointing to the four million Americans of Filipino descent living in the US and the 350,000 US nationals living in the Philippines.
“This [event] shows our deep commitment to each other, which is people-to-people. We have our people here to help explain what the embassy does and help demystify some our services,” the ambassador told reporters in an interview.
Another presentation also showed the step-by-step process of applying for a tourist visa.
Goldberg dispelled perceptions that Filipinos have difficulty obtaining tourist visas to visit the United States. He admitted that the US Embassy compound in Manila may look intimidating with its high walls and strict security but, in reality, the procedure for visa application is “friendly.”
“The vast majority of people who apply are approved for visas. [We have] a standard and easy process: You make an appointment, you go in, you have an interview. As long as you are a stable resident of the Philippines, you’re going to get your visa and enjoy the United States,” he said.
According to the presentation, the embassy processes around 1,000 applications every day and 80 percent of the applications are granted.
At the presentation site, US embassy staff and employees of the US Peace Corps, US Agency for International Development, Millennium Challenge Corp. and agencies of the US agriculture and veterans affairs departments manned booths to answer queries from the public on various matters ranging from consular matters to locating missing World War II veterans’ remains, and from humanitarian aid to education opportunities in the US.
The event also featured performances by Jed Madela, Charice Pempengco, Luke Mejares, Razorback, the US Navy 7th Fleet Band, gospel singers and hip-hop groups. There were also free food samplings from American companies, a film screening, football and baseball clinics, and an exhibit of American vintage cars.
Part of the embassy’s “Best of the USA” presentation regaled Filipino audiences with film clips and green screen photo opportunities featuring famous historical and scenic American landmarks such as Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon, the Golden Gate Bridge, Statue of Liberty and the New York City skyline.
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