(MENAFN - Arab News) Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) who have been in the Kingdom for a long time will remember the late award-winning journalist, author and politician, Carlos P. Romulo, whose 114th birth anniversary will be marked tomorrow, for having visited Saudi Arabia during the oil crisis in the 1970s to ensure a continued steady supply of petroleum for his country.
"He had come to the Kingdom and visited King Faisal regarding oil. This was in connection with the oil crisis in 1973," said Alex Bello, a well-known community leader.
"The Philippines, like other developing countries, was stranded on the road to industrialization due to the oil crisis," he said.
The oil crisis started in October 1973 when members of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OAPEC), consisting of Arab members of the world's petroleum exporting countries, plus Egypt, Syria and Tunisia, proclaimed an oil embargo.
Oscar Domingo, also a community leader, added that Romulo came to the Kingdom to meet with King Faisal on the instructions of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos to request that the Philippines be included on the list of countries that would continue to receive oil.
The author of 16 books, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism and the first Filipino and Asian president of the General Assembly of the United Nations, Romulo was a recipient of several honorary doctorate degrees.
When Romulo arrived, King Faisal received him immediately, and granted the Philippine request for continued oil.
It was clear why the request was granted. King Faisal had helped Romulo in 1947 while still a prince and the Kingdom's delegate to the United Nations (UN). Romulo had delivered a speech at the UN against the partition of Palestine and when the Filipino was attacked by Jewish demonstrators, the Saudi prince came to his rescue.
The speech caused a sensation because as Romulo stepped out of the building at Lake Success in New York, he was greeted by an angry crowd of demonstrators, mostly Jewish students, who were there "to hiss and boo him."
Prince Faisal saw what was happening to Romulo and ordered his bodyguards to surround and protect him and get him safely into his car.
"I was able to reach the pier in time to board Queen Mary, where my wife, one of my sons and my aides were awaiting me," Romulo says in his book entitled "A Third World Soldier at the UN." It was Nov. 26, 1947 and Romulo was scheduled to attend a meeting of the Human Rights Commission in Geneva.
"He had not pressured me on the partition issue or any other questions involving Arab relations. He was a dignified and just man," Romulo says in his book.
But even before his speech against the partition of Palestine, the Saudi prince and Romulo had met earlier when they were delegates at the formation of a world body in San Francisco. Romulo headed the Philippine delegation.
The Filipino delegation was booked at the St. Francis Hotel and his suite was next to that of Prince Faisal. Romulo recalls in his book that he and Prince Faisal were once riding on the elevator together, when a curious American teenager, eyeing the Saudi Prince's burnoose, a novelty in 1945 San Francisco, whispered to her companion, "I wonder what he wears underneath."
"'Young lady," Faisal nodded regally towards her, answering in clearly enunciated English, "it's a BVD," Romulo says in his book. BVD is the name of a brand of underwear manufactured by Bradley, Voorhees & Day in New York City.