We celebrate this season of hope, peace and renewal with a new sense of profound meaning and motivation, as reflected in our national consciousness and demonstrated by our collective aspirations as a people.
The year 2013 witnessed unprecedented devastation in the Visayas and brazen terrorist attacks in Mindanao. Yet, the Philippines, like the resilience of an Asian bamboo, is truly unbowed.
The unparalleled demonstration of compassion and overwhelming solidarity of our key allies, development partners, and people from all walks of life have inspired us to soldier on; gently reminding us that the Philippines is not alone.
While the task of reconstruction is both complex· and daunting, we are confident and . prepared to meet, head on, the challenges that lie before us.
Spurred by a clear commitment to inclusive growth, our President, His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino Ill, has vowed to realize a climate change-resilient Philippines to sustain our economy's momentum and further improve the quality of life of the Filipino people. ·
Through all these challenges and opportunities, the Department of Foreign Affairs ensures that the Philippines stands firmly as the voice of reason, championing an enlightened advocacy for peaceful relations through diplomatic consultations and strict adherence to the rule of law.
We intensify our economic diplomacy efforts to attract foreign direct investments, boost trade and tourism, and encourage development assistance. Despite Yolanda, the Philippines continues to receive resounding affirmation for its resilient economic performance and good governance reform agenda.
We maintain a proactive stance and strengthen our capacities to ensure that the rights and welfare of 10 million Filipinos overseas are promoted and protected at all times on a 24/7 basis, in 174 countries over 40 time zones.
Above all, we continue to push for a principled and independent Philippine foreign policy, heightened by our ability to cooperate, negotiate and assert our rightful place in the community of nations.
I thank the outstanding meri and women· of the Department, based in the Home Office, the RCOs and satellite offices, and in all our 84 Posts abroad, for your hard work, steadfast commitment and positive contributions.
Let us all continue to serve as instruments of peace, channels of hope, and bridges of renewal and reconciliation.
A most Meaningful Christmas and a Grace-filled New Year!
(SGD) ALBERT F. DEL ROSARIO Secretary of Foreign Affairs