The Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce, Inc.
FPACC
"The Voice of Philippine American Small & Medium Enterprises & Initiatives for Mutual Benefit."

Trade Mission 2014

U. S. TRADE MISSION TO THE PHILIPPINES   OCT 17-27, 2014

Sponsored  by: The Federation of Philippine American Chambers of Commerce, USA

● 8315 Navisota Drive, Lantana, TX 76226 USA ● Tel 1-972-814-7548 ● email: gmercado@datalogixtexas.com

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE (for immediate release)

Final Report on the 2014 FPACC Trade Mission – “Successful beyond words.”

By Gus Mercado, Head of Mission

To summarize the outcome of the recently-concluded Trade and Investment Mission to the Philippines– it was successful beyond words. But it is words that will most effectively describe what has been accomplished and what immediate benefits the delegates and their new Philippine partners have already gained. These words will not come from me, but from the delegates, from our hosts and the local businesspeople whom they met one-on-one. The trip has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

The most flattering comment came from our hosts and our guest delegates from 12 states who described the project as "the best organized U.S. Trade Mission to the Philippines, ever!" It was also the biggest trade mission ever assembled with 60 business delegates from across the United States, representing different fields of business endeavors.

I am delighted to report to our constituents in the U.S. that after the physically grueling and mentally exhausting trips to the provinces, there have been immediate results and success stories. From my standpoint as Head of Mission, this has been, by far, the most successful and impactful Trade Mission that we have ever assembled – both in terms of the quality of business connections made, the enthusiastic response of the provinces visited, and also from the perspective of immediate results. Our IT investors in the group had met with dozens of IT and BPO companies and will soon sign contracts. We have delegates who have already signed contracts with local software developers. Our VP of Tourism is already engaged with Filipino HTML developers. Many pursued their interests in investing in real estate, not only for their own use as retiring baby-boomers, but also for rental income and pure investment opportunities. Our Midwest and Pacific Northwest delegates have already initiated importation of handicrafts, parols and food products from Central Luzon manufacturers.  Our West Coast delegates are seriously interested in partnering with companies in the wellness industry whom they met at the PBC, as well as in joint ventures with manufacturers of electronics products. Our delegates from the Northeast and Southeast who were interested in importing fashion apparel and accessories, gifts and crafts found their suppliers at the FAME Expo. Some delegates are pursuing importation of agri-products from Central Luzon. Members of the Texas delegation, the biggest group with 26 delegates, are pursuing varied interests in eco-tourism, garments, high-end Philippine furniture and accessories as well as high-tech and BPOs. We signed Memorandums of Understanding and Cooperation (MOUCs) with the provinces and chambers of commerce of Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, Zambales, as well as Clark, Subic and Muntinlupa.

High Level Endorsements

The Filipino-American Chamber Federation’s 2014 Trade and Investment mission project enjoyed the strong endorsement of Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose L. Cuisia Jr., Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Gregory Domingo, Department of Tourism (DOT) Secretary Ramon Jimenez, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balicasan, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Miguel Valera, the seven Region III provincial governors, Subic Chairman Roberto Garcia, Clark President Arthur Tugade, and President Benigno S. Aquino III himself.

Trip Highlights

                  The week-long Trade Mission had many highlights, which included:  High-level business forums on investment and joint venture opportunities and one-on-one business matching with local SMEs from Bulacan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora, as well as presentations and tours of the Subic and Clark industrial parks. It also included the FAME Expo of world-class quality Philippine products, as well as the 40th Philippine Business Conference and private meetings with government and industry leaders arranged by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI/PUBC); visits to the largest-in-the-world Philippine Arena in Bulacan; the Ninoy Aquino Museum in Luisita, Tarlac; Las Casas Filipinas de Acuzar; and culminated in a meet-and-greet moment with President Aquino at the Manila Hotel.

Success Stories and Testimonials

Edgar Santiago, a Dallas businessman reported:  “On a scale of 1-10, I'll give this Trade Mission a 9.5, close to perfection! The objectives of the trade mission were clearly accomplished. Business relationships were established, goals were presented very well and local counterparts were linked with the U.S.-based entrepreneurs properly. The provincial stops were very well planned, organized and orchestrated. I just signed a contract with a local software system company in Pampanga who will develop our Electronic Health Record system.  This Trade Mission has been an excellent vehicle to establish business with the Philippines’ technical IT specialists. I will encourage every Fil-Am entrepreneur to join these trade missions to establish business links in the Philippines and to appreciate the hidden wealth and gems of the Philippines. This has been an exhilarating professional and personal experience for me. My hat is off to the organizers!”

For Paul Buenaflor, who is in the field of IT management consulting, the Trade Mission was a crash course in the latest trends, strengths, and weaknesses of Philippine business in 2014.  “This has been a terrific learning experience for me. It scores a 9 out of 10” he said in summarizing his experience as a first-time delegate.

Bert Golla, FPACC VP of Finance, commented:  “This Trade Mission’s planning, preparation, and execution should be in the book of Hoyle for people who plan to do this type of event.”  Earlier in the year, Bert had predicted that the 2014-2015 year would be “a renaissance for the Federation of Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce.” 

            Tony and Zeny Fletcher of Pacific Northwest said:  “Words cannot express the admiration we have for both your unselfish service to our country and for bringing us along to experience the governors/mayors/local chambers’ red carpet welcome and presentations that money can't buy.  Pat yourself for a job well done! This has been a “world-class” Trade Mission!” 

            IT and BPO Investor Ilyas Baig commented: “The rigorous trip took a physical toll on us, but beyond that it was a very worthwhile trip. The IT conference that preceded the Trade Mission was a superb showcase of the Philippines’ IT and BPO capabilities. My wife and I enjoyed the Trade Mission and the trips to the provinces. And I believe I have found potential business partners for call centers/BPO outsourcing that are worth pursuing.”

Tito Refi, Senior Vice President of Southwest Banking Services, shared: I must confess I did not expect much from this trip as I mainly wanted to encourage more participation from our group and to "add to the numbers". But I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised after joining and experiencing the arranged visits to those provinces that were graciously hosted by their respective governors and officials. We also met with local business people to get to know their businesses and industries.  It was the perfect scenario to explore and find the right business opportunities.  And I believe many of our delegates were able to take advantage of it and close on some deals right away.  And we all had fun.  The visit to Pampanga – Subic and Clark – was really an eye-opener for me who always wanted to find an ideal retirement community for Filipino seniors and retirees in the US whose pensions and social security benefits can hardly cover their living expenses but can live rather comfortably, even luxuriously, if given the chance to discover and retire in the Philippines.  Now I can honestly say there is more to the Philippines than meets the eye and I will be happy to spread the good word.  My wife and I plan to return in late January for more pleasure trips and discovery.

Anthony Guevara summed up his experience as follows:  “Totally exceeded my expectations. All who were unable to attend really missed out on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  It gave me the chance to discover what business possibilities are available and helped lay down the foundation to build bridges with future partners.  I would highly recommend the Trade Mission to everyone. The rousing welcome by the dignitaries and political figures such as governors, mayors, council members, etc. was a pleasant and exhilarating surprise. NEDA, DTI, DOT, the local chambers and all the hosts rolled out the "red carpet” and offered VIP treatment at every spot and truly demonstrated why doing business is "More Fun In The Philippines". 

Loloy Reyes, Real Estate Investor and Consultant from Houston, Texas wrote:  Mei and I would like to extend to both of you our deepest and sincerest gratitude for making the Trade Mission possible and for steering it towards a huge success. We feel nobody can come close to pulling it off the way you two have done it over the years. Your hard work, commitment, dedication and leadership are second to none. Your vision of creating a bridge that will foster not only economic and trade relations but also growth and development between our two countries is very noble and worthy of emulation – a true pride not only of PACC- Texas but of the entire Philippine American community which you represent. You both are an embodiment of what servant-leaders are supposed to be – selflessly opening doors and windows of opportunities that others can take advantage of. I can speak with authority on this because I am one of those who have been blessed by the Trade Mission when I signed a contract with Megaworld Corp. as its Satellite Office Representative for Texas in 2007. More than the financial rewards that it brought me, I have forged lifelong relationships with stakeholders concerned. The exposure and experience that the Trade Mission provides (i.e. provincial  visits and sorties; conferences; matching meetings etc.) are not only enriching and rewarding but also life-changing. It is our hope that more Fil-Am businessmen and professionals join future Trade Missions so they can be enriched by the experience, reap first-hand the benefits and hopefully find rewarding business opportunities while gaining  a better understanding and fresher perspective of the Philippine business, economic and socio-political climate.  The humanitarian aspect of the Trade Mission is the soul of the trip. “Paying it forward” is the unwritten, but nobler side of business.

Teresa Snow, founder of the on-line marketing portal, ePalengke:  The Trade Mission was my first and it was a great experience. The meetings with key influential government officials, the royal treatments and entertainment from different provinces, all those delicious foods and the one-on-one meetings with suppliers were direct results of many months of your dedication and hard work to ensure the success of 7 days of appointments. The entire trip was very well organized and 100 percent relevant to my business goals. I was able to introduce ePalengke to SME owners, met and negotiated with suppliers and manufacturers for private labels. The opportunity to meet with suppliers, including the makers of Carabao leather, was an extremely unique and rare opportunity, which could never have been possible working on our own.

            Simeon D. Mamaril of Portland Oregon and National Secretary of FPACC: “ Overall, the Mission was a complete success. All the hosts on the Philippine side to our delegation did magnificent jobs. No stones were left unturned to ensure success. Every aspect of our stay was superb, from hotel accommodations to every hosted event, everything was successful and met our expectations. All MOUs and MOAs signed and accepted by us and our Philippine counterparts sealed our acceptance and commitment to a more lasting business relationship between us and the provinces and their chambers of commerce. I was amazed by the tremendous progress that I have seen in the emerging regional economy, as well as their infrastructures, roads and bridges all contributing to the provinces’ readiness for foreign investments. The very strong family ties and Christian values that built a veritable business empire in Pampanga – the Mekeni Foods Corp. comprised of five brothers and their strong and venerable patriarch – are deserving of special mention and admiration.  The Trade Mission’s pursuit of excellence is attributable to the special leadership of Gus and Ethel Mercado, and the cooperation and participation of all delegates and their distinguished hosts. Mission accomplished, no doubt!”

            Deodith Mapas of Central Florida commented:  “Tremendous gratitude goes to you and Consul Ethel Mercado from the bottom of our hearts for the awesome "Trade Mission" that you both have organized.  It is obvious that you have put so many sleepless nights and hours to make this Trade mission a success. This event was phenomenal!  I will never forget the experience I gained: the memories, the friendships and most of all the special connections I have made with other Trade Mission delegates. On the scale of 1-10, I gave this event a "9.75".  The office of Bulacan Governor Sy-Alvarado has kept in touch regarding business opportunities that we discussed during our visit. All of the Trade Mission's tour stops were great, but the following visits were outstanding: Mekeni Foods -- family rags-to-riches story was inspirational, showed true Filipino values of faith and determination to succeed; Bulacan Tour – very friendly and entertaining; Subic Bay – very educational; Bataan and Tarlac – very historical & educational. The young Bataan governor Abet Garcia was amazing!

            Ric and Rebecca Gaerlan of Portland, Oregon commented:  “Being in a unique profession of Home Designs, I did not think I could relate to the activities of the Trade Mission, until I met Atty. Dulce Punzalan, of International Sustainable Development Enterprise at the PBC conference in the Manila Hotel. Not only was I amazed at her featured product, bamboo, I realized how her product is at it's infancy back here in the USA. Having seen and met a few entrepreneurs carrying bamboo products, I told her how much interest I have in finding a means of working with her in expanding this wonderful, structurally sound product for residential applications here in Portland and in the business I am in, Home Designs. I am already doing some research and interviewing some potential clients for this wonderful Filipino product. We commend you and Ethel for the splendid job of putting this Trade Mission together. The success of this Trade Mission should be a barometer by which other future Trade Missions could be patterned after.  Maraming salamat!
           Recently engaged Cristina Bautista and Kenny Bounds shared the highlights of their Trade Mission trip:    “
We connected with the Mother Teresa Medical Center in Pampanga and we are in the process of setting up a possible R&D project in connection with one of our Light Therapy for Life products for mitigating negative side effects of radiation on cancer patients.  We also connected with Dr. Mina Gabor and are in the process of donating a huge supply of goods and retrofit services for their eco-sites and surrounding lodges/camps.  These products and services will lead to a decreased demand for traditional power services and increase in the usage in alternative energy sources.  We believe that Dr. Gabor is such an asset in promoting ecotourism in the Philippines that any help we can provide her would only allow her to do the work she does much more effectively.  Another delegate, Andrew Needles, is also willing to make donations if the Federation will match them. We also found many unique handcrafted and food items for my soon-to-open store (www.worldcrave.com) that I am almost overwhelmed by the numerous possibilities. I also plan on working with manufacturers/artisans in Bulacan and a non-profit group in Olongapo City. Thanks for opening these doors for us.”

       Alex Borromeo of Washington State:  “Kudos on the successful Trade Mission, the exemplary organization and host receptions. As to next steps, I’ll help develop a benchmark template (scorecard) that will serve as a guideline for future project missions, measure outcomes and performance dimensions and critical competencies — a FPACC toolkit. We will also help with follow-up tasks to ensure the business connections made and the MOUs signed bear fruits.”

On top of the incredible receptions that we received and the immediate success stories that have already resulted, another great thing that came out of this is the fact that our Trade Mission came up with a surplus from this huge project. We owe the financial success of this project to FPACC Federation President and Honorary Consul-General Ethel Mercado's responsible fiscal planning and expert management of the project. The surplus funds will be earmarked for our FPACC Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund which will come in handy as more super typhoons and other calamities visit the Philippines. 

The main goal of our Trade Mission was to build a bridge across the seas, not only a bridge of understanding and cooperation exemplified by our signing of five MOUs and sister-Chamber agreements with the provincial Chambers of Commerce, but also a bridge that connects business and cultural interests, chamber to chamber and people to people between our two nations.  And, based alone on the seven short days that we spent in our destination regions, we are already seeing the beginning of the crystallization of that symbolic bridge.

National Delegates, Partners and Sponsors

                  The delegation consisted of the officers of the Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce in Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Michigan and Washington State, as well as executives of Fortune 500 companies.

                Companies represented were: Arthur Lawrence LLC, Titan Gold mining, Valhalla, Nuclear Logistics, American Airlines, Datalogix, Applied Biologics, Hydroflow USA, CNMA Brokerage, Viewhaven Enterprises, Soil Stabilizer International, Capital Source One, BartCo Tech Corp., Boeing, LPR Venture and Investment Group, AMP Financial, Total Interiors, The Bounds Group, Globel Importex, American Visiting Doctors, Southwestern National Bank, B3 IT Services, ZOE and EMM Designs, Velella Global LLC, ePalengke LLC, Smyth Productions and Globalview Advisors.

                  Development partners of the 2014 Trade Mission included: NEDA Region III, the Region III Regional Development Council headed by the seven provincial governors, the DTI and DOT Region III coordinators, the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority, the Clark Development Corporation, Central Luzon Growth Corridor Foundation, the International School of Sustainable Tourism in Subic, and the provincial Chambers of Commerce, and the US-Philippine Business Council of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The heads of mission Gus and Ethel Mercado particularly attributed the overwhelming success of the 2014 Trade Mission to four very active partners: NEDA Region Director Ver Santos, former Tourism Secretary Dr. Mina Gabor, DTI Region Director Judith Angeles and PCCI-PUBC Director Ramon Escueta.

                  Event sponsors included: Western Union, Megaworld, Ayala Land International, Datalogix Texas International, AMCHAM Philippines, DMCI Homes, PHINMA, the Muntinlupa Chamber of Commerce, DTI Invest Philippines, Tourism Promotion Board and the Vivere Suites.

                  For more info on the Trade Mission, contact Gus Mercado, at (972) 814-7548 in the US or local landline 771-7777, local 3008 in the Philippines, or email gmercado@datalogixtexas.com or ermercado@verizon.net. Trade Mission Photos can be viewed at the Federation’s website www.FPACC.net.