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07/12/2009: Ambassador Gaa is Keynote Speaker at 32nd Annual Festival of Lights Opening

07 DECEMBER 2009 WASHINGTON DC – Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa welcomes guests to the Festival of Lights Opening Ceremonies.  Ambassador Gaa is joined by Elder Jay Jensen (middle) of the Presidency of the Seventy of the Church of Latter Day Saints and Elder Jensen’s spouse.  Also at the reception line are Elder J.W. Marriott, Jr. and his wife.  Held at the Church of Latter Day Saints’ Washington, D.C. Temple Visitors’ Center, the 32nd Annual Festival of Lights Opening Ceremonies illuminated some 500,000 lights and ushered in the Yuletide festivities.   After being introduced by Senator Bob Bennett (Utah), Ambassador Gaa in his speech emphasized the Philippines’ respect for the diversity of the human family, recognized the special relations between the Philippines and the United States and acknowledged the Church of Latter Day Saints as “steadfast partner” in nation building.  Ambassador Gaa pointed out, “in the midst of the challenges that we all continue to face, we value occasions such as this evening.  We are reminded of the ties that bind us all as one human family.  We are reminded of our duties to our brethren.”  Ambassador Gaa added, “As we usher in the season that celebrates hope and calls for universal respect, we are drawn together by our shared aspirations for our world, aspirations that spark within us the will to work for a better world.   Moved by our faith and resolve, we must continue the good work for others.  We must continue working to chase away the shadows.” END

Ambassador Gaa Keynotes Festival of Lights Opening


07 DECEMBER 2009 WASHINGTON DC – Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa addresses the US legislators, diplomatic community, the members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, members of the Filipino-American community and guests during the opening ceremonies of the 32nd Annual Festival of Lights.  Held at the Church of Latter Day Saints’ Washington, DC Temple, the Festival of Lights opening ceremonies illuminated some 500,000 lights and ushered in the Yuletide festivities.  After being introduced by Senator Bob Bennett (Utah), Ambassador Gaa in his speech emphasized the Philippines’ respect for the diversity of the human family, recognized the special relations between the Philippines and the United States and acknowledged the Church of Latter Day Saints as “steadfast partner” in nation building.  Ambassador Gaa pointed out, “in the midst of the challenges that we all continue to face, we value occasions such as this evening.  We are reminded of the ties that bind us all as one human family.  We are reminded of our duties to our brethren.”  Ambassador Gaa added, “As we usher in the season that celebrates hope and calls for universal respect, we are drawn together by our shared aspirations for our world, aspirations that spark within us the will to work for a better world.   Moved by our faith and resolve, we must continue the good work for others.  We must continue working to chase away the shadows.” END

Christmas Carol in Filipino Takes Center Stage in DC’s Festival of Lights

07 DECEMBER 2009 WASHINGTON DC – The Filipino Children’s Choir serenades guests with a Tagalog translation of the popular Christmas carol, “Silent Night” at the opening ceremonies of the 32nd Annual Festival of Lights.  Held at the Visitors Center of the Church of Latter Day Saints Washington, DC Temple, the audience included Senator Bob Bennett (Utah) and Congressman Buck McKeon (California).  Philippine Ambassador to the United States Willy C. Gaa delivered the keynote remarks at the ceremony which was also attended by members of Washington, DC’s diplomatic community.   In his remarks, Ambassador Gaa underscored the symbolic significance of the ceremony, saying it was a shared reaffirmation of the sacred pledge “to be a light unto others; and – together – to be a beacon of hope for all.”  Ambassador Gaa likewise emphasized the shared and indelible ties between the Philippines and the United States, particularly through the Church of Latter Day Saints saying, “The Church has joined the Philippines – literally and in spirit – in our onward journey toward greater growth and development.  The Church’s presence in the country affirms the respect with which the Filipino people hold diversity sacred – diversity in beliefs, in creeds, in faith and principles.” END