Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii’s 29th Trade Mission to the Philippines

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The Future of FCCH: Advancing Economic Outcomes via Circular Economy Trade Missions and Trade Shows

Established in 1954, the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) is the oldest Chamber in the United States. FCCH began its Trade Mission to the Philippines in 1963 with the initial purpose of improving relations between the State of Hawaii and the Philippines through goodwill and trade. In 1993, FCCH organized the 1st Philippine Trade Mission to Hawaii, spearheaded by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce & Industry (PCCI) and the Cebu Chamber of Commerce. In 2000, FCCH hosted the Trade Mission Delegates from Cagayan de Oro and established a Sister Chamber relationship with the Cagayan de Oro Chamber of Commerce. In 2006, in celebration of the Filipino Centennial, members of the Centennial Committee joined the 20th Trade Mission to the Philippines Delegates, which was led by Hawaii Governor Linda Lingle. In the same year, and in cooperation with the Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission, FCCH hosted the International Trade Expo in Honolulu, Hawaii.

In 2009, the Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, Mufi Hanneman, led the 21st Trade Mission to the Philippines and created the 1st Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with PCCI with the goal of promoting, strengthening, and expanding the trade and business relationships of the State of Hawaii and the Philippines. In 2010, FCCH created the Hawaii-Philippine Business Economic Council (HPBEC) with the main purpose of implementing the MOA that was signed the year before during the 21st Trade Mission to the Philippines.  FCCH and the Trade Mission Delegates had hoped that with the efforts that were put into the Trade Missions, a business would flourish visibly between the State of Hawaii and the Philippines. However, there were no measurable, and sustainable advancing in the economic outcomes of both countries. Despite that, FCCH continued to build relationships and in 2011, another Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, led the 22nd Trade Mission to the Philippines and renewed the sister city relationship of the City and County of Honolulu with Baguio City. In 2013, the 3rd Mayor of the City and County of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell led the 24th Trade Mission to the Philippines and reinforced and renewed the sister cities relationships with Laoag, Ilocos Norte, Vigan, Ilocos Sur, and Baguio City, along with the friendship city relationship with Candon, Ilocos Sur, where the 1st Gathering of the Hawaii Ethnic Chambers of Commerce was held.  As in the past, Trade Mission Delegates had hoped that improving relationships would also strengthen the business links in the Philippines. In a way, it had happened, but not in the sense of advancing the economic outcomes of the Filipino Community, who are now the largest minority group in the State of Hawaii.

With all the relationships and efforts made by the previous Trade Mission leaders and delegates and under the leadership of FCCH President Dr. Nancy Atmospera-Walch, the 2019 FCCH 29th Trade Mission to the Philippines seized the opportunity to utilize those relationships as a foundation to move the FCCH Trade Mission project to the next level of measurably advancing economic outcomes in the State of Hawaii and the Philippines.

FCCH President, Dr. Atmospera-Walch’s favorite quote is:

“If you do not know where you are going, you will never know, if you have arrived or not.”

To set a new course for future FCCH Trade Missions, President Walch utilized the Circular Economy Model, which has been used in the manufacturing industry to prevent waste, advocate sustainability and efficiency.  She believes that having a conceptual business model as the road map for the Trade Mission would prevent wasted time and inefficiencies and would also measurably advance economic outcomes.

The two key components of the Circular Economy Model filtered through the lens of FCCH’s goal of advancing economic outcomes are (i) the 1st half of the Circular Economy – 2019 FCCH Trade Mission and Business Symposium in the Philippines and (ii) the 2nd half of the Circular Economy – 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii.

As the 29th FCCH Trade Mission put the first half of the Circular Economy Model in practice they undertook the following bold, never-before-taken actions: (i) incorporating a Business Symposium at the opening of the Trade Mission, (iii) requesting the cities visited to have trade shows of their products, (iv) utilizing the 2019 Trade Mission to market the 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium in Honolulu, Hawaii, (v) collaborating with the counterpart organization in the Philippines – PCCI and engaging the private and public as partners in a business symposium setting, and many more.

In anticipation of the first half of the Circular Economy Model, the 2019 FCCH Trade Mission Delegates invited both the Philippine government and the local entrepreneurs to come to Hawaii and be a part of the 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium. The Delegation reported that many of the Philippine government officials and local entrepreneurs were excited and gave verbal commitments that they will attend and bring their products to the 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium.

FCCH expects that their new Circular Economy model will Inspire, Influence, Innovate, and Integrate the best business practices and products in a culture of sustainable business environment for both entrepreneurs in the Philippines and the State of Hawaii. They foresee that it will be the model and foundation of future Trade Missions and Trade Shows in advancing economic outcomes of all stakeholders.

DuterteNomics is a catch-all term referring to the socioeconomic policies of Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. A significant part of the policy includes the development of infrastructure and industries.  Part of DuterteNomics is the Build! Build! Build! Infrastructure Plan which according to the administration will usher in the “Golden Age of Infrastructure”.

Within the context of the DuterteNomics, from October 12 – 22, 2019 FCCH heralded its 65th anniversary with the 29th Trade Mission to the Philippines with the goal of Advancing Economic Outcomes via Circular Economy visiting Manila, Clark, Tarlac, Candon, Vigan, San Nicolas, and Laoag. The goal of this trade mission is to hit two birds with one stone – first is to continue FCCH’s goal of strengthening business links with the Philippines and second is to extend invitations to various businesses in the Philippines to attend the 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium, which will be held at the Honolulu Convention Center from July 24 – 26, 2020. The 2019 FCCH Trade Mission Delegation was headed by the State of Hawaii House of Representatives, John Mizuno, Honolulu Philippine Consul General Ambassador, Joselito Jimeno, and Filipino Chamber of
Commerce of Hawaii President, Dr. Nancy Atmospera-Walch.

“Utilizing Circular Economy methods in the trade industry find us in uncharted waters, but with education, patience, perseverance, persistence, and passion, positive economic outcomes will prevail. With our success, the common goal and purpose of the Chamber of Commerce organizations around the world will shine. So, let’s do it! Let us all unite as Chamber of Commerce Organizations in innovating best business practices and be the leader in advancing economic outcomes in every business endeavor that we take on. Be a part of the movement of utilizing Circular Economy Trade Missions and Trade Shows as the tool to advance economic outcomes,” stated FCCH President Dr. Nancy Atmospera-Walch, who is also the President and CEO of Advantage Health Care Provider Inc. and AIM Healthcare Institute.

In 2019, FCCH embarked on a more business-oriented theme. With assistance from the Honolulu Philippine Consulate a Business Symposium was held at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel on the opening day featuring speakers from both public and private sectors. Representatives from the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (PCCI), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Healthcare Information Management Association of the Philippines (HIMAP), Philippine Franchise Association (PFA), QBO Innovation Hub, Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR), and other private institutions gave insights to attendees on how to invest and do business in the Philippines. Despite their very busy schedule Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President Ma Alegria S. Limjoco and Dr. Carl E. Balita, Chairman Emeritus of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce of Industry (PCCI) – Quezon City and currently the National Chairman for Human Resource Development of PCCI accepted FCCH’s invitation to be the Guest and Keynote Speaker respectively.

FCCH President Atmospera-Walch presented and shared her vision and expounded on the Circular Economy Model while Dennis T. Ling, Administrator – Business Development & Support Division of the State of Hawaii Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) shared information and statistics as well as extending an invitation to the attendees to join the 2020 Philippine Trade Expo.

After a very hectic and daylong Business Symposium, the delegation, speakers, and guests were treated to a special Aloha Night Welcome dinner reception, held at the Makati Shangri-la Hotel.  The audience was captivated by the musical talent of Dr. Carl Balita (Filipino, Entrepreneur, Educator, Model, Doctor, Radio Personality and Ultimate Reviewer) and the cultural entertainment arranged by CCT168 Travel & Tours.  Capping the event was the signing of two agreements.  First was the Sister-Chamber Agreement between FCCH and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry – Quezon City Chapter which was signed by FCCH President Dr. Nancy Atmospera-Walch and PCCI – Quezon City Chapter President Sarah P. Deloraya-Mateo.

The second was the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Advantage Healthcare Provider Inc. and Carl Balita Review Center (CBRC) to cooperate and have exchanges that will help improve the operations of the two businesses. This agreement was signed by Dr. Nancy Atmospera-Walch, President and CEO of AIM Healthcare Institute, and Dr. Carl E. Balita, President of CEB Group Of Companies, and represents the first successful advancement of economic outcomes via the Circular Economy Model.

With a very successful Business Symposium, dinner reception, forging of sister-chamber and signing of MOU, the delegation was upbeat and up and running the next day to visit Centuria Medical Center Makati, a one‐stop, outpatient medical-IT facility located at the heart of Century City, Makati, Philippines. The delegation was given a tour of the facility and attended a brief presentation of stem cell therapy which is the use of stem cells to treat or prevent a disease or condition.

The Philippines’ premier design and lifestyle event, Manila FAME promotes the Philippines as a reliable sourcing destination for high-quality and design-oriented home, fashion, holiday, architectural and interior products. With this in mind, FCCH included in their schedule to participate in this event since this is the best place to extend invitations to business owners to attend the 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium in Honolulu. The trade mission delegation was honored to be acknowledged during the formal opening ceremonies and was given the opportunity to present a certificate of appreciation from State of Hawaii House of Representatives to Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez. The certificate was formally presented by State Representative John Mizuno and FCCH President Dr. Atmospera-Walch.

State Representative John Mizuno, FCCH President Dr. Atmospera-Walch and Trade Mission Chair Alimbuyao also partook in a helicopter ride from Makati Rockwell Center to Batangas to look at potential business opportunities between Hawaii and the Philippines.  It was an experience having to travel only 20 minutes which would typically take over two and a half hours by car.  While in Batangas, the three had the opportunity to tour a super ferry owned, operated and built in the Philippines.  Mizuno adds:  “Because the Philippines have 7,100 islands it makes sense to have a viable and efficient ferry system which can transport people, vehicles, and goods at a reasonable cost.”

Representatives from Clark Development Corporation (CDC) provided an overview of Clark Freeport and Economic Zone and the different incentives available to locators, including income tax holidays, duty-free importation of capital goods, a one-stop shop for business, among others. While in Clark, trade mission participants were able to observe the operations of three companies – Connext Global Solutions, an IT-Business Process Outsourcing (IT-BPO) firm servicing Hawaii-based clients, Back Room, an offshoring company specializing in accounting and auditing services and Yokohama Tire Philippines Inc. (YTPI), the largest company in the area began business operation in Clark Special Economic Zone (CSEZ). The delegation was treated to a luncheon at Binulo restaurant serving the most wonderful Capampangan cuisine. Binulo means to cook in fresh bamboo stalks called bulo.

Tarlac City Mayor Cristy Angeles, a very down to earth and religious individual, gave the delegation a very warm welcome reception with a band composed of school children, her staff members presenting leis and the City Hall grounds crowded with well-wishers.  She even had police escorts meet the delegation upon entering the vicinity of Tarlac City.  Mizuno adds, “Mayor Cristy Angeles broke the glass ceiling becoming the first female to be the elected Mayor in 228 years in Tarlac City history. We are all proud of Mayor Cristy Angeles.”

Mayor Angeles invited the delegation to her office and the delegation noticed her “Hawaiian Wall” which displayed memorabilia of her Hawaiian visit.  A formal luncheon program was prepared with representatives from Tarlac City doing a presentation of what the city can offer to Hawaii.  The highlight of event was when Mayor Angeles surprised everyone when she danced hula after a haku lei was presented to her.  The delegates were given gifts consists of various products made in Tarlac.

After the luncheon State Representative Mizuno, FCCH President Dr. Atmospera-Walch and Chair Alimbuyao joined Mayor Angeles and her staff to attend the groundbreaking ceremonies of the Drug Reformation and Prevention Training and Counseling Center.  This initiative was founded by Lemton and Venjie Agricola, who were previously based in Hawaii and established the Agricola Approach Association Inc.  The rest of the delegation stayed back at Tarlac City Hall to view the Trade and Products Show.  Mayor Angeles also took time out to accompany the delegation to the Aquino Center for a brief tour and also assured the delegation that she and a delegation from Tarlac will be attending the 2020 Trade Expo in Honolulu.

The next day in Candon, Ilocos Sur the delegation was in awe with the mesmerizing and majestic views of the Vitalis Villas.  They proceeded to Candon Trade Center showcasing the “One Town One Product” (OTOP) concept having a Trade Fair displaying various local products, goods, and services.  A formal luncheon program was prepared and representatives from City of Candon presented a video of how Candon has evolved, thus resulting in earning the Seal of Good Local Governance recognition and award.  Various business owners and vendors were given the opportunity to present their products.

After luncheon, Mayor Singson and the delegation proceeded to the Sakada Monument (the first 15 sakadas boarded the S.S. Doric and left Candon for Hawaii back in 1906) where formal wreath-laying ceremonies were held. The next stop was a brief tour of the Cariño ancestral house which was inaugurated recently as the Candon City Museum after going through restoration. The ancestral house built in the 1700s originally belonged to Don Miguel Cariño, the grandfather of revolutionary leader Gabriela Silang. After a short drive the delegation proceeded to have an inter-action with the Bag-O Tribal Group.  Mayor Singson joined the tribal group in dancing their traditional dances and then later joined by State Representative Mizuno, FCCH President Atmospera-Walch and some delegates.

The activities in Candon culminated with a Barrio Fiesta Aloha Style dinner reception theme where the delegation was treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner and entertained by various Philippine folk dances.  The delegation was very appreciative of Mayor Singson for cutting short his trip to Las Vegas to welcome and entertain them.

From Candon, the delegation headed to Vigan, Ilocos Sur. During their stay in Vigan the delegation visited cultural sites like the National Museum and business sites as the Ruby Jar Factory (“pagburnayan”) and Loom Weaving (“pag-abelan”).  The delegation had lunch at Pinakbet Farm, a government-owned restaurant and tourist destination in Caoayan, Ilocos Sur.  Set in a simple and peaceful rural living in a lush vegetable farm setting the delegation enjoyed the Ilocano dishes (“boodle fight”) while being entertained with a cultural performance.  The night was capped by no less than Ilocos Sur Vice Governor Jerry Singson, representing the Honorable Governor, Ryan Singson who was called by President Duterte for a meeting.  Again, the FCCH delegates were once more welcomed with a delicious dinner reception. They also brought some of the products of District 1 of Ilocos Sur, in which some are similar to the products we saw in Candon.

The Trade Mission’s last stop was in the Province of San Nicolas, Ilocos Norte.  San Nicolas Mayor Dr. Alfredo Valdez Jr. and Ilocos Norte Vice-Governor Cecille Araneta Marcos met the delegation at the Office of the Governor.  After a short visit with the Vice Governor, the delegates proceeded to Viven Hotel. After checking in, the delegates went across the hotel to Robinson’s Mall,  where a mega-trade show was prepared to give everyone an opportunity to feel, see and buy local products. Each local entrepreneur was given a chance to present their products, and this is where the delegates saw the passion and pride and heard the perseverance of the entrepreneurs.  The delegation was also given an opportunity to visit and tour Karmelli Clinic and Hospital.  “Hawaii has deep roots in the Philippines, therefore it is essential to work with this hospital and HMO’s to ascertain what medical services may be covered for our people returning to their home provinces.  We will work with all stakeholders,” stated State of Hawaii House of Representative John Mizuno.

The highlight of the event was the grand welcome dinner reception hosted by San Nicolas Mayor Dr. Alfredo Valdez Jr. at his family’s home.  Ilocos Norte Vice-Governor Cecille Araneta Marcos also attended the event, which was an opportunity for the delegation to witness the display of the singing talent of Mayor Valdez who serenaded them, played the ukulele and also surprised FCCH President Dr. Atmospera-Walch by greeting her on her birthday.  The entertainment of the Filipino cultural dancers was amazing and incredibly talented.

The Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii has been at the forefront in working, coordinating and helping the State of Hawaii and the City and County of Honolulu in forging State and Sister Cities relationship in the Philippines.  Through these relationships, FCCH was able to foster economic development, increase trade, and facilitate the exchange of ideas.

Taking these into consideration, FCCH with assistance from State of Hawaii Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism (DBEDT) and in partnership with the Honolulu Philippine Consulate is already in the midst of planning and coordinating the 2020 FCCH Trade Show and Business Symposium which will be held on July 24 – 26, 2019 at the Honolulu Convention Center.  The Trade Show will feature products and services from the Philippines, presentations from business subject matter experts, networking opportunities and the opportunity to share the Aloha spirit.

FCCH is committed to continuing fulfilling its mission to promote greater business activity between Hawaii and the Philippines and looking forward to the fruition of its 2020 vision.

Paul Alimmbuyao

Paul Gaerlan Alimbuyao is a former resident of Baguio City the Summer Capital of the Philipines. He is now based in Honolulu, Hawaii and is currently a Vice President and Manager at First Hawaiian Bank. Actively involved in the community serving in various organizations as President of the Rotary Club of Ewa Beach and member of the Finane Committee of the Filipino Community Center. He was the former President of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii (FCCH) and chaired six Trade Mission to the Philippines. He is happily maried to his lovely wife Mary Ann and blessed with two boys Christian and Ricky both pursuing college education.

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