Of Trade Missions and Sisterhood Ties

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By Art Tibaldo

Consumer Atbp.

Monday, February 17, 2014


THE phrase "pag may time" is getting to be widely acceptable as a Filipino lingo and I feel guilty of being one of the users so I am now trying to adopt Kris Aquino's "now na" since I don't want to further delay anything that I can accomplish at the moment.

Over the weekend, I found myself rushing to finish a presentation meant to be used by the city for the joint Baguio-Honolulu Sisterhood Renewal and Trade Mission by the Honolulu Chamber of Commerce. Knowing that computers can crash any time, an anticipatory effort can best remedy possible panicking but I still couldn’t do away with that last minute final retouches with the belief that I always work best under pressure…which is totally risky.

Anyway, the trade mission led by Honolulu County and City Mayor Kirk William Caldwell, Consul General Julius Torres and Mrs. Maria Etrata, the President of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce- Hawaii went well with the warm hospitality of the City hosted by Mayor Mauricio G. Domogan.

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Led by Paul Gaerlan Alimbuyao whom I met in Hawaii last October, the trade mission delegation had a Valentine Day encounter with their local counterpart ably represented by businessman Benedicto Balajadia during a dinner at the Le Monet in Camp John Hay. My daughter Tam Jewel who works at the Department of Foreign Affairs Baguio Branch joined me as my Valentine chap and I introduced her to Consul Torres whom I met in Hawaii last year.

The group led by Mayor Kirk Caldwell came over to help bolster the economic ties between the city and Philippines and further establish linkages with the men and women engaged in business thus the meeting of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii and the Philippine Chamber of Commerce Baguio-Benguet Chapter. When the group of Cadwell arrived in the Philippines on February 11, they were met by former Honolulu Deputy Consul Paul Cortez the following day and travelled to Vigan, Ilocos Sur to meet with Governor Ryan Luis V. Singson.

On February 13, the delegation met with Candon City Mayor Ericson Singson for the renewal of Friendship City arrangement with Honolulu followed by a business forum with Candon Chamber of Commerce. On the 14th which is Valentine’s Day, the Aloha delegation arrived in Baguio and paid a courtesy call with Baguio City Mayor Maurico Domogan for the renewal of Sister-City initiatives and business partnerships with Honolulu.

With the loaded and busy events in Baguio last February15 which is a Saturday that coincided with the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Homecoming, the Honolulu delegation was warmly welcomed at the Saint Louis University with President Father Jessie Hechanova leading a campus tour and renewal of the Memorandum of Understanding with Honolulu.

The business forum with PCCI at the Baguio Country Club that followed tightened the sisterhood ties between the city of Pines and the Aloha County with Mayor Caldwell as the guest of honor and speaker at the event following our presentations based on Baguio’s Local Incentives and Investment Code.

Honolulu’s Chamber of Commerce President Maria Etrata found the trade mission fulfilling especially when she learned that she’s a biological relative of Benny Balajadia, her Baguio Counterpart.

Included in their itinerary was a travel to San Fernando, Pampanga to meet with Mayor Edwin D. Santiago and Vice Mayor Jaime T. Lazatin where Mayor Caldwell and Honolulu Consul Julius Torres are to be conferred as “Adopted Sons of Pampanga”. There was also a signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with San Ferdenando Pampanga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, headed by President Marco Antonio Jimenez where Caldwell and Consul General Torres were guest speakers.

As of this writing, Monday, February 17, the delegation is expected to travel to Manila for a scheduled meeting with former President and current Manila Mayor Joseph "Erap" Ejercito Estrata. The Honolulu delegation is likewise scheduled to attend a wreath laying ceremony at Rizal Park with Vice President Jejomar Binay to be followed by an on-site visit of the Metro Manila Rail Transit Station. Also scheduled in their Manila itinerary is a business workshop on “Investment Opportunities in Hawaii” where Mayor Caldwell will serve as the guest of honor and speaker.

I personally met some of the delegates including Mayor Caldwell when I was in Honolulu last October and one thing that was persistently mentioned during their talks is their culture based Aloha Spirit which I came to learn as something of mutual respect, caring and loving one another. Respect for elders, simplicity and equal opportunity are among the things that I learned during my two travels in the island state plus the warm welcome when a visitor arrives. The giving of leis, hugging and offering of gifts and tokens are all gestures of friendship and my advice to would-be delegates of future trade missions are just few; don’t forget your business cards, keep your presentation short but just present the highlights and try to establish good rapport by sharing some skills like friendly jokes and even a songs just like what I did when I sang “Tiny Bubbles” at the Consulate House in Honolulu during our welcome party.

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on February 18, 2014.

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