Over half a century ago, more than 1000 European Jews arrived on Philippine soil to seek refuge and a new life, far away from the tyranny of Nazi oppression in Europe. Among these refugees were a young Max Weissler and his family.
This life-saving journey was made possible through the heroic actions of the President of the Philippines at the time, Manuel L Quezon. President Quezon firmly believed in the vision of doing what is right, much akin to the heroic vision of Oskar Schindler.
President Quezon declared an ‘Open Doors’ policy which facilitated the issue of 10,000 visas for Jewish refugees who were escaping the terror of the Holocaust during WWII.
Tragically, only 1,300 Jews were able to reach the Philippines and accept the generosity of President Quezon and the Filipino people and start a new life in the Philippines. As the war unfolded it became increasingly difficult for Jews to leave Europe and find a safe haven.
On 2 October 2012, the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv facilitated the first ever meeting between Manuel Quezon Avanceña, a grandson of President Quezon, and Max Weissler, now aged 76, who still lives in the Philippines and who is one of the few surviving Jewish refugees there.
This memorable and touching meeting was hosted by the Philippine Ambassador in Israel, Generoso Calonge. Ambassador Calonge was delighted to be a part of this, noting how Mr Weissler is always keen to recount his journey to the Philippines and the story of his family as they settled into life in Manila.
The Ambassador said, “He is a living testament to the heroic deed of President Manuel Quezon who did what other nations could not or did not do during the difficult ordeal of the Jews in Europe.”
At the meeting Mr Weissler recounted many of his adventures and fond memories of life in the Philippines and even showed off some of the Tagalog words and phrases that he could still remember, to the delight of President Quezon’s grandson. Please login or register to see the full article