Tiongson Prof. Erwin Tiongson (right) entertains questions from the crowd moderated by Public Diplomacy Section Head Mark Dominic E. Lim (left)

PH Embassy in Washington, DC celebrates Nat’l Heritage Month

May 23, 2023 People's Tonight 2382 views
Deputy Chief of Mission Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. as he introduced Prof. Tiongson to the guests
Guests lined up to get their books signed by Prof. Tiongson

(From left to right) Ambassador John F. Maisto, Prof. Erwin Tiongson, Deputy Chief of Mission Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr., US-PHL Society Executive Director Hank Hendricksen, and Public Diplomacy Section Head Mark Dominic E. Lim

With Philippine history enthusiast Erwin Tiongson

WASHINGTON D.C. – “The Embassy hopes that more people will gain interest in Philippine history and how we made our mark in modern American society. We also hope that this will encourage the next generation of Filipino Americans to learn and understand more of their Filipino heritage and of Filipino American history, and how our community earned a seat at the table,” said by Deputy Chief of Mission Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon, Jr. as he welcomed guests during the Kumustahan sa Embahada: Walking Through History featuring Erwin Tiongson on 18 May 2023 at the Embassy’s Quezon Hall. The event was co-hosted by the US-Philippine Society.

Mr. Tiongson is a professor at Georgetown University Walsh School of Foreign Service, where he teaches economics and writes about Philippine history. His essays have appeared in a variety of publications, including the Smithsonian Air and Space Magazine, the New York Times, Positively Filipino, Slate, the Washington Post, Washingtonian, and the White House History Quarterly. He is also a co-founder of the Philippines on the Potomac (POPDC) project.

His recent book “Philippine American Heritage in Washington D.C.” narrates the intertwined history of the Philippines and the United States in the streets of Washington D.C., the nation’s capital.

The book contains landmarks often unmentioned in guidebooks and hidden in plain sight but has a significant relation to Philippine history.

“The reason this book exists is the same essential reason that we all happen to be here together at this moment in Washington. It is because somehow, our lives are part of the intertwined histories of the Philippines and the United States that spans over a century… This started out as a family project over ten years ago. My family and I just moved back to D.C. after spending a couple of years in the Philippines. In 2012, Tetchi (his wife) and I asked ourselves what we could teach our children about our heritage. Instead of having them memorize names and dates, we thought we could visit important places in Philippine American history. That evening, when the Philippines on the Potomac project started, we named thirty places…” Professor Tiongson shared his inspiration in starting the POPDC project, which then led to the creation of his book.

During the event, Mr. Tiongson highlighted stories of significant figures in Philippine history between the years 1942 to 1946 and their journey behind the walls of the Embassy’s Old Chancery as they pursued Philippine independence back when the country was a Commonwealth. Among these notable personalities are former Presidents Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña, Former Secretary of Foreign Affairs Carlos P. Romulo, and many more. The discussion was followed by a signing of books.

Mr. Tiongson’s special talk comes at an opportune time as the Embassy celebrates the National Heritage Month in the Philippines and the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) Heritage Month in the United States.