Israeli ambassador plants trees at the ‘safe haven of Jewish refugees’ in the Philippines in the 1940s

Image from Marikina PIO
  • Israeli ambassador planted trees at the Philippine School of Business Administration 
  • Ambassador Rafael Harpaz said it is their way of giving thanks as the area used to be the safe haven of Jewish people who sought refuge in the Philippines in the 1940s
  • Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro helped Harpaz plant six Narra trees in the school

Over a thousand Jewish peoples found a home in a three-hectare farm in the Philippines during the WWII. Nearly eight decades later, an official from Israel planted trees on the area as a way of giving thanks to the place that was once the “safe haven” of his countrymen.

Image from Marikina PIO

Israeli Ambassador Rafael Harpaz and Mayor Marcelino “Marcy” Teodoro recently planted six narra trees at the Philippine School of Business Administration; where the housing site for some Jewish people in the Philippines was located in the 1940s. Harpaz expressed his country’s great gratitude to the Philippines, specifically to Marikina City for being a safe haven to Jews during the time that Nazis, led by Ad0lf Hitler, were consistently pr0secuting Jews.

“It’s very em0ti0nal for us Israelis and Jews to be in this place. We choose leaders not to take easy decisions but to take t0ugh decisions. For President Quezon, it was not an easy decision because of the pressure being placed on him. But he decided to take in Jewish refugees despite such. He opened the doors for our people,” Harpaz said; adding that other democratic countries chose not to let his countrymen in.

In the 1940s, the aforementioned spot was part of Marikina City.

“It was at the Mariquina Hall, a three-hectare farm owned by President Quezon, which became the first shelter of Jewish refugees who in turn cultivated the land. At present, the said Mariquina Hall is where the Philippine School of Business Administration in Quezon City now stands,” Teodoro said. “I can say to you now, I am proud we did not turn a blind eye. And I am proud to say that given a chance to do it all over again, we will still choose to open our doors to you.”

Image from Marikina PIO

Meanwhile, Harpaz said what the former president did decades ago was also the reason why the Israeli government immediately sent their military and nurses to the city during  Typhoon Ondoy.

Source: Marikina PIO’s press release