A packed audience learned about President Quezon’s “open door policy” which saved more than a thousand Jews during the Holocaust period
7 February 2020, Oslo – The Philippine Embassy, in cooperation with the ABS-CBN The Filipino Channel-Norway, conducted a block screening of the critically acclaimed movie “Quezon’s Game” on 7 February 2020, at the Felix Kino in Oslo, Norway. Based on a true story, “Quezon's Game” is a biographical drama on how Philippine President Manuel L. Quezon saved more than a thousand Jews during the Holocaust period.
The movie depicts how through the Philippines’ “Open Door Policy,” Jewish refugees from Germany, Poland, Austria, Hungary, the former Czechoslovakia, Russia, Italy, Latvia and Bulgaria, escaping the Nazi regime were welcomed and given a safe haven in the Philippines. (www.quezonsgame.com)
During her welcome remarks, Ambassador Jocelyn Batoon-Garcia read the following excerpts from the speech of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. which he delivered in New York, on 27 January 2020, in commemoration of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 75th Anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp:
The rescue of the Jews speaks to a Philippine tradition of never turning away a stranger. Earlier my country opened its doors to White Russian Jews fleeing the 1917 Communist victory in Russia. One of them, Jewish, married into my wife’s family…Another wave of White Russians washed up on our shores fleeing the Communist victory in China in ’49. We took in defeated Spanish republicans fleeing mass executions. Vietnamese boat people fleeing the American debacle. Iranians during the fall of the Shah. More Indo-Chinese in the wake of the genocide perpetrated by the US- and China-backed Pol Pot regime until Communist Vietnam stopped it. In 2000, East Timorese Catholics fled murdering militia. While the West rent its garments in grief, the Philippines offered refuge.
This proclivity for decency continues, anchored on the conviction that what we would not have done to us we shall not stand by when done to others. State sovereignty speaks to the care states must take of people inside them, be they natives or strangers passing through or staying on…
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,” said President Quezon…
The mother of the children of our President is Jewish. Traced from the mother’s line, his children could be considered as Jews. When the President visited Israel with his children, he left these words at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial: “Never again…”
The full house showing of the movie was attended by representatives of the Norwegian Center for Holocaust and Minority Studies (www.hlsenteret.no) and the Jewish Museum in Oslo (www.jodiskmuseumoslo.no/). Also in attendance were representatives from the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and members of the diplomatic corps including Ambassador Alan Roth, Israel’s Ambassador’s to Norway. Guests from various Norwegian government agencies and private organizations were also present during the block screening of Quezon’s Game.
After the movie, guests expressed appreciation to the Philippine Embassy and TFC Norway for sharing the seldom told story of how the Philippines stood its ground in offering a safe haven for Jews during the Holocaust, especially at a time when the rest of the world looked away.
Complete text of Secretary Locsin Jr.’s speech is available at: