VICE Mayor Mark Golez (acting mayor of Silay) was at the frontline to give warm welcome to the Feldmans who are in Silay as guests of Friends of Tourism-Silay. Alexander Feldman is the president of US-ASEAN Business Council, Inc. with office at Washington, DC. Mrs. Emily Feldman is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University. Lady Feldman is into interior architecture and design.

The early evening brought Mrs. Feldman to the Silay City Museum. The beautiful architect was met by Nathaniel ‘Dinky’ von Einsiedel (adviser for urban planning of Silay), Councilor Neil Solomon Locsin, Executive Assistant Susan A. Velez and yours truly. Emily is interested in Philippine architecture. She took notice of the ancestral houses in Silay identified by the National Historical Commission as architectural landmarks. “Your heritage houses speak of your distinct culture and the determination of your people to aspire what is best in life.” Dinky, an architect and a former employee of the United Nations in urban planning and handling 11 countries, intensively engaged to a lady in a very technical conversation that started from abstract expressionism to zincograph.

Emily’s attention caught the beautiful ‘gallenero’ in front of the Tourism Office. It was explained to her that the ‘hacendados’ placed that at the reception area of their mansion for the farmer to sit down while waiting for them. The well decorated portion of the bench below is for the farmers to enclose their chicken. That amused Lady Feldman. Topics shifted from what is common to what is special… Georgian art, ‘fete galante’, cottage orne, beaux-arts, jugendstil, terracotta and vargueño. Dinky mentioned also that Silay City has been identified by the UN Habitat for Humanities as a place for peaceful living and investment.

Mrs. Velez briefed Lady Feldman on the role of sugar industry in the lives of Negrosanons. She emphasized the partnership of labor, ‘hacendados’ and millers in creating the economic bloodstream for the island of Negros. A friendship dinner was held at Balay Negrense Museum. Businessmen and Friends of Tourism were there… Francis Gaston, Weng Jison, Agnes Villar, Chin Chin Uy, lawyer Kara Aimee Quevenco, lawyer Ranhel Perez, Judge Dyna DollTrocio, SPM Aileen Javier and friends. (I have mentioned some earlier). Councilor Locsin showed a video presentation on the impression of the investors, visitors and youth on how Mayor Jose Montelibano manages Silay based on the battle cry ‘Be proud to be a Silaynon’.

Mr. Feldman said that he is in town to encourage Negrosanon businessmen to develop an Association of Southeast Asian Nations identity to prepare for the impact of the Asean Economic Integration in 2015. He said that when the time comes, businessmen and professionals will have interaction with more than 125 leading American multinational corporations and other key players in the 10-membercountries of the Asean. Mr. and Mrs. Feldman are here because Bacolod Councilor JocelleBatapa-Sigue made it possible. Both Sigue and Feldman are Eisenhower Fellow scholars.

The soiree at Balay Negrense Museum paved the way for the intimate business talk between Mr. Feldman and the Silay business figures. Acting Mayor Mark Golez said that this could just be a beginning of a serious look at trade, commerce, industry, tourism and education. The challenge of the Asean Economic Integration in 2015 will encourage our entrepreneurs to come up with quality and competitive products in the world market. Our professionals will be obliged to level up with the kind of training and qualifications of the professionals in advanced countries.

The acting mayor would want to reach out to Silaynons that the Feldmans are here to give us the message that we have to strengthen the foundation of our education that could be manifested by having quality graduates. Our businessmen should strengthen the local market and should have ample time to develop our local products and join the import-export market. Silay City Tourism office proposes that Silay should come up with its business chamber now and engage in capacity building and look into training programs that could enhance management skills, marketing plans and partnership in common business interest.