Virginia Beach anchors itself to fourth sister city via monument

Rolen Paulino, mayor of Olongapo, Philippines (center right) poses with a group around an anchor at Kempes Landing Park symbolizing his city's relationship with Virginia Beach. A similar monument, dedicated in November 2014, sits nearly 9,000 miles away in the Philippines.
Rolen Paulino, mayor of Olongapo, Philippines (center right) poses with a group around an anchor at Kempes Landing Park symbolizing his city’s relationship with Virginia Beach. A similar monument, dedicated in November 2014, sits nearly 9,000 miles away in the Philippines.

The Virginia Beach City Council had a little help from its newest sister city Monday as it celebrated three projects’ completion.

Rolen Paulino, mayor of Olongapo, Philippines, and Jose L. Cuisia Jr., a Philippine ambassador to the U.S., joined a group of local elected officials to cut ribbons at Kempes Landing Park, including one for a nearby anchor symbolizing Olongapo’s and Virginia Beach’s relationship. The anchor was donated by the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News and installed earlier this month.

The two cities, nearly 9,000 miles apart, set a record for the quickest formation of a sister-city status, officials said. Last year, a similar anchor was dedicated in Olongapo, where the Virginia Beach Economic Development Authority now has a office.

Paulino said anchors represent an “ironclad, unbreakable” relationship between the two cities.

“The anchor is a symbol of stability, confidence and hope, traits that are important in any partnership,” Cuisia said.

Paulino and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms received wooden anchors carved by the Beach’s public works department.

Sessoms said the relationship between the two cities was not arbitrary.

Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms (center) cuts a ribbon on the new Kempes Landing Park Monday with the help of city council members and Rolen Paulino, mayor of Olongapo, Philippines (right of center) and Jose L. Cuisia Jr., a Philippine ambassador to the U.S (left of center.)
Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms (center) cuts a ribbon on the new Kempes Landing Park Monday with the help of city council members and Rolen Paulino, mayor of Olongapo, Philippines (right of center) and Jose L. Cuisia Jr., a Philippine ambassador to the U.S (left of center.)

Many Filipinos joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and were stationed at Oceana Naval Air Station, he said, adding that many stayed and brought or started families in the commonwealth.

About 30,000 to 35,000 Filipino-Americans now live in Hampton Roads, with about 18,000 to 22,000 residing in the Beach, Sessoms said, using census data.

Being sister cities “not only makes sense, it’s an honor,” he said.

The officials also cut ribbons for the completed Princess Anne-Kempsville road project and the new Kempes Landing Park. Sessoms said both have influenced businesses to start their own projects in Kempsville.

Virginia Beach lists three other sister cities on its website: Miyazaki City, Japan; Moss, Norway; and North Down Borough Council, Northern Ireland​. The Beach shares “Friendship City” status with San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua.

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