Christians in Israel Celebrate New Year 5779, Says President Duterte is Controversial but his Visit is Divinely Timed

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President Duterte talking to Holocaust survivor and refugee to the Philippines, Max Weissler, who was instrumental in getting the monument set up.

He arrived in Israel in a swirl of controversy and arrived in the Philippines in the midst of  political stormwinds. But Rodrigo Duterte, 1st Filipino President to visit the Holy Land enjoyed a space of Shalom (peace in Hebrew) during his 5-day trip here last September 2 to 5.

Despite “Digong’s” colorful, even roguish reputation, Christians in Israel call the 1st visit by a Philippine Chief-of-State a prophetic, divinely-timed act that coincides with the 70th year anniversary of the Jewish State and the crossover to year 5779 on the Hebrew Calendar.

“We are saying “Yes!” to our alignment with Israel. We are confirming the vote the Philippines made over 70 years ago at the United Nations when we were the only Asian country to vote “Yes!” to the (revival of the Jewish State after 2000 years),” enthused Roy Carandang, Christian architect and builder during a meeting between Filipino and Jewish businessmen last September 4 at King David Hotel in Jerusalem.

In the UN Assembly of 1947, the Philippines cast the “swing vote” that caused the rebirth of Israel on the land renamed Palestine by Roman occupiers in 135 A.D.; a fulfillment of the Biblical prophecy in Isaiah 66:8: “Can a country be born in a day or a nation brought forth in a moment?  Yet no sooner is Zion in labor than she gives birth to her children.” Bible scholars believe that “Zion’s labor” refers to Jewish genocide during the Nazi Holocaust, and “birth” is the revival of the land of Israel as the humanitarian act of redemption and reparation by the nations, and as homeland for persecuted Jews worldwide.

“We were also the last nation to be invited to Israel for a state visit this year,” added Carandang. The 21 trade agreements signed, OFW benefits and strengthened diplomatic relations reaped by the President’s visit are expected to yield  results this year and succeeding years. “We are crossing over (together) from year 5778 to 5779. “It’s a new season (for both our nations)!” declared businessman and IFP (Intercessors for the Philippines) “watchman” for Israel Roy Carandang. Israel celebrated the Roshashana or Feast of Trumpets last September 10-11. It heralds Hebrew Calendar Year 5779, traditionally counted from the day Adam was created by God. It is also a prophetic Feast trumpeting the coming of Israel’s King and Messiah and His glorious millennial reign.

The President’s  last act here was a quiet but significant visit to the “Open Doors” monument in Rishon le Tziyon dedicated to former President Manuel Quezon and Filipinos for sheltering 1,200 Jewish refugees during the Holocaust when all other countries refused them.

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President Duterte, daughter Sara who is the grand daughter of holocaust survivor, Holocaust refugee to RP Max Weissler (in wheelchair) and Israel Director for Foreign Relations Annette Ben-Shahar (extreme left) at “Open Doors” monument honoring Pres Manuel Quezon and the Philippines for sheltering 1,200 Holocaust survivors when no other nation would take them from 1937 to 1941. The monument has the foot and handprints of Holocaust survivors and their children.

Sara Duterte-Carpio, the president’s daughter and grand-daughter of a German refugee through her mother, Elizabeth Zimmerman,  was there to help lay a wreath. They were welcomed by Max Weissler, Holocaust survivor who called himself “Mistisong Bangus,” said he once lived in Pasay, and greeted the President in fluent Tagalog, even commenting on his “pagmumura,” (tendency to curse).

In more diplomatic fashion,  Annette Ben-Shahar, Israeli Director of Foreign Relations thanked the President and said that because of his historic  visit, “Diplomatic relations between Israel and the Philippines have gone from strength to strength.”

Duterte’s historic Israel trip has also been called a visit of “firsts”; the first time a Filipino president set foot on the Biblical “Promised Land,” the first highest-ranking Philippine government leader to meet with Israel’s top echelon heads: Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin, the first time OFW’s in Israel will experience freedom from decades of exploitatively high job recruitment and placement fees imposed by private agencies and middlemen, even the first time Filipinos may enjoy direct flights to Israel, if plans push through.

“It may certainly be the first time a Philippine Airlines plane lands in Israel,” former Ambassador to Israel Effie Ben Matityau observed. “There was very good rapport between our Prime Minister (Netanyahu) and your President. They have so many things they have in common, so many things they can accomplish together, it was a breakthrough, with much more to come. There’s a very genuine friendship between Filipinos and the Jewish people.”

For Presidential Daughter Sara, Coming to Israel is like Coming Home
Sara Duterte and CBN Asia Senior Writer Nena Benigno

Presidential Daughter Sara with CBN Asia Senior Writer Nena Benigno

No one agrees more than Sara, President Duterte’s daughter who prides herself in her Jewish bloodlines and was all-out in her admiration and support for Israel.”For her, coming here was like coming home,” observed Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial.  Sara reportedly told her dad that she wanted to apply for dual citizenship, to which “Digong” replied—“Why don’t you try. They may accept you.”

In Israel, Jewish ancestry is legally determined through the mother’s bloodline, therefore Sara qualifies. The president reportedly told the audience at one event to look closely at his daughter, her features certainly looked Jewish and joked that even her body build qualified her to be an IDF (Israel Defense Force) soldier. “She was very emotional when she visited Yad Vashem” (the Holocaust Memorial Museum), observed Ambassador to Israel Neal Imperial. Why were millions of Jews slaughtered, but her family among the handful spared? Could she have a special calling or destiny? “Diyos lang ang makakaalam” (only God knows), she smiled.

Christians Pray for “Spiritual Shift” for President Duterte
Sara with the OFWs at King David hotel

Sara Duterte-Carpio fellowships with OFW’s who swarmed around her at the King David Hotel lobby in Jerusalem where her father Digong was billeted.

Christian OFW’s in Israel also pray and hope there will be a “spiritual shift” in the President’s heart, from one who scoffed at the Biblical creation account in Genesis and called its Author, the God of Israel “stupid,” to one who believes YHVH and His Son Yeshua is Messiah and the one true God. “Ang Diyos ang gustong magpahayag sa Presidente (God Himself wants to prove to the President) that He is God,” observes Sonya Maderazo, 14 years caregiver to an Orthodox Jewish family in Jerusalem. “Kaya siya  dinala dito sa Lupang Pangako kung saan sinulat ang Bible. (That’s why God sent him here to the Promised Land where the Bible and its creation account was written).” She thinks the shift or spiritual rebirth may not happen immediately but gradually. “Ako hindi rin agad-agad, it took time, it was a process,” shared Sonya whose full acceptance of Yeshua (Jesus) as Lord and Savior transformed her from a sickly, depressed and stressed-out caregiver to one who is happy, trusted and beloved as a daughter by her Jewish employers.

“It was also a chance for Israel and the Jews to look at our Filipino Head-of-State with new eyes, with a more positive perspective,” observes Maritess Gasataya,” volunteer at the King of Kings Christian church in Jerusalem who hopes the Israeli media will have a kinder assessment of President Duterte after seeing him up close, specially during his visit to Yad Vashem (Holocaust Museum) where he redeemed his earlier statements likening his war on drug addicts and pushers to Hitler’s massacre of millions of Jews. After laying a wreath in the Hall of Remembrance, the President called Hitler “insane” and his rule a “horrific and benighted period of human history.” He pledged that the Philippines would fight against such despotic leaders.

Arab-Israeli Palestinians Ismael Kawasmi and son

Arab-Israeli Palestinians Ismael Kawasmi and son hold up the “Welcome to the Holy Land Tatay Digong” T-shirts they printed out and sold at Jaffa Market in Jerusalem. They claim to be admirers of Filipinos and Duterte who they find strong and a fighter for his country. They also like him for treating Israeli Palestinians and Jews equally.

Maritess also believes the president and the nation will ultimately be blest by this fruitful first-time visit to the Land God calls the “Apple of His Eye,” “Firstborn Nation” and “Special Treasure.” “It’s a spiritual law. Those who bless Israel will be blest,” she sums, quoting the verse in Genesis 12:3.   


  • Eddie R. Ermitaño, Jr.

    I remember one netizen said, “Hindi lahat ng taong nagmumura ay masama at hindi lahat ng taong nagsisimba ay banal.” I truly believe that God put President Duterte as our nation’s head. Mapagmurang tao pero napakahirap isipin/intindihin/unawaan ang plano ng Dios. I’m for PRRD anyway! Tama po, you really CANNOT question God. Sa ating Dios ang KAPURIHAN magpakailan man…

  • Most of the article gushes over the brutal, profane, hypocritical, blasphemous, bloodthirsty, adulterous, hot-tempered, Constitution-shredding dictator-wannabe, but finally some reality appeared towards he end.
    Your writer referenced Hitler, but neglected to mention that Duterte’s words about him seemed hollow after the Philippine president said he wanted to imitate the Nazi leader with his own “slaughter”… of millions of drug users.
    “Only” 23,000 have been slaughtered so far. Many of those were innocent victims of rumors or of false identity.

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