SUBIC BAY FREEPORT - United States (US)-based Filipino entrepreneurs belonging to the Federation of Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce (FPACC) are scouting for trade opportunities in the country of their birth and are considering putting up businesses in Subic Bay Freeport.
A FPACC delegation of 65 members arrived here on Monday for the Luzon leg of the U.S. Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines and met with officials of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), local industry leaders, and heads of local government units.
The mission, which was scheduled on October 17 to 24, was organized by the Central Luzon Growth Corridor Foundation, Inc. to help promote Central Luzon as an ideal investment destination.
Gus Mercado, head of mission and executive director of FPACC, said the trade mission aims to bridge and facilitate business and cultural ties between business people through the Philippine-American chamber network.
He said that the delegates represent various endeavors and businesses, but all are entrepreneurs in their own right and represent the creme dela creme of the Filipino community in the United States.
He said that the delegation have expressed interest in real estate, eco-tourism, manufacturing, light-industrial machinery, and retirement facility.
"The majority of us here were born in the Philippines, and we have what they call pusong Pinoy," Mercado clarified.
"Our non-Filipino members of the delegation will understand why although we've been away for so long, we still have pusong Pinoy. Deep in our hearts, we are still Filipinos," Mercado added.
He also noted that despite its conversion into a free port, Subic Bay "is probably the only place in the Philippines where the US traffic laws are still being enforced."
In the same meeting, SBMA chief operating officer Joven Reyes warmly welcomed the group and briefed them about the free port and the local business climate.
He said that the SBMA was created by virtue of Republic Act 7227 "to promote and develop the Subic Special Economic Zone into a self-sustaining industrial, commercial, financial and investment center."
He added that with the SBMA's mandate to generate employment and attract productive foreign investments, the agency has succeeded in turning Subic into a home of almost 1,500 business locators and more than 90,000 skilled workers.
Reyes also informed the visitors that the SBMA has performed well in the past few years, posting a net profit of P1.2 billion last year and increasing its net operating budget by 66 per cent as of August this year.
The event held at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center also provided an opportunity for members of the FPACC to meet their local counterparts for networking opportunities. Some local companies also put up an exhibit of products during the meeting.
Among those who met with the trade delegates were Olongapo City mayor Rolen Paulino, Zambales provincial administrator Jun Omar Ebdane, representatives of the Subic Bay Freeport Chamber of Commerce and the Olongapo City Chamber of Commerce, and officials of the Department of Trade and Industry-Zambales.
Paulino and Ebdane turned over symbolic keys to Olongapo and Zambales, respectively, to the mission head. (30)
SBMA Chief Operating Officer Joven Reyes receives a certificate of appreciation from Ethel Reyes- Mercado, Honorary Consul General of Texas, USA, during the visit of members of the US Trade Mission on October 20 at the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center. Looking on is Gus Mercado (right), executive director of the Federation of Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce and head of mission.