Photo: Michael Rivera
Ebenezer Operation Exodus Philippines
A fine example of the Philippines' bold and compassionate approach was the remarkable Open Door Policy implemented by President Manuel L. Quezon in the period leading up to the Second World War.
Even as most nations disturbingly closed their doors to Jewish refugees, President Quezon persuaded his cabinet and even his political opponents of the pressing need to receive these refugees as they tried to escape from Nazism's increasing menace in Europe.
An outstanding national attribute of the Philippines is a willingness to care for the needy and oppressed, to provide a safe haven for the fugitive.
We see it demonstrated in the events of the last century. Particularly since the surge of displaced persons looking for refuge in the aftermath of World War 1, Filipinos set a new standard amongst the international community with their compassion and their readiness offer a safe home to refugees from other parts of the world.
In August 1937 he issued Proclamation No. 173, calling on Filipinos to welcome Jewish refugees who were fleeing from Nazi persecution. In a demonstration of his personal conviction that giving refuge was simply 'the right thing to do', President Quezon provided land adjacent to his family home in Marikina to help facilitate the construction of housing for arriving Jewish families. Marikina Hall was dedicated on 23rd April 1940 and provided accommodation for some of the more needy Jewish refugees.
As the horrors of the Holocaust in Europe subsequently unfolded, the significance of President Quezon's remarkable humanitarian policy became increasingly evident. Some 1,300 German and Austrian Jews fleeing the Nazis were able to find protection and safety from their pursuers in a distant haven across the Pacific Ocean.
In recent times representatives of the State of Israel have honoured the Philippines and the legacy of President Quezon for this little-known story of compassion, courage and solidarity. Deep gratitude is expressed for the way in which Filipinos readily opened their doors to the "Manilaners", the affectionate name by which the Jewish immigrants became known.
President Manuel L. Quezon in 1942
Photo: Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (Digital File Number: fsa 8e00852)
For these Jewish families, deliverance from the atrocities of the Holocaust came through the Open Door to the Philippines.
Today Ebenezer Operation Exodus in the Philippines builds on this fine historical foundation of caring; of being ready to help; of standing in support of the Jewish people.
Our Representatives are based in Laguna and Davao City. We welcome you to contact us.
“In this time of rising anti-Semitism, this story of my country’s Open Doors Policy shows how plain decency can triumph over raging prejudice — which seems so irresistible when all we have to counter it is the soft quality of caring. It is a great moral victory that recognizes every life saved as immeasurably valuable for containing the infinite possibilities of a single human life”
Philippines Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr.,
addressing an audience in New York on 27 January 2020