Filipino-American business leaders and executives of Fortune 500 companies in the US flocked to Manila on Friday for a 10-day Trade, Investment and Tourism tour of Metro Manila and Central Luzon.

U.S. Trade Mission Delegates -- Friday Welcome Reception

U.S. Trade Mission Delegates — Friday Welcome Reception

“Sixty Filipino business and community leaders, along with American businessmen from 12 states showed exemplary courage in coming to the country at this time,” Head of mission, Gus Mercado said.

Mercado, also the Chairman & CEO of Texas and Silicon Valley-based Datalogix International, noted that the delegates are aware of the current threats posed but they “defied warnings of terrorist threats and other potential risks.”

He insisted that the adverse fortune of the Philippines—the strongest and most devastating typhoon in the history of the planet, the earthquakes that visited the country this time last year, and the ongoing political turmoil and tribal wars — just motivates them to keep coming back to the country to be of some help.

“Impervious to political, security and weather concerns, we have been coming here to invest in our motherland even in the darkest times in our history,” Mercado said. “Our fervent desire to help the Filipino people transcends politics, personalities, ideology and time.”

This will be the fourth Philippine-American Chamber-organized Trade Mission to the Philippines, following two highly successful trips to the Calabarzon region and one to the Western Visayas region.

The first ever trade mission during the term of President Aquino in 2010 was a direct response to the president’s call for Filipino-American businessmen and women to return to the Philippines and invest to help elevate Philippine economy.

The US Chamber Federation’s 2014 Trade and Investment mission project enjoys 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, and Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Miguel Valera.

“It is with great pleasure that I support your Trade Mission, which comes at a very opportune time when we are now reaping the fruits pf the Aquino Administration’s ongoing economic reforms and good governance measures to improve the country’s business climate,” Ambassador Cuisia said.

“The active involvement of our partners such as the FPACC (Federation of Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce) is vital in sustaining these gains and further propelling our economy forward,” the ambassador added.

The event will highlight joint venture opportunities, as well as business partnerships in IT/BPO outsourcing, finance, import/export of food commodities and high-end Philippine products, logistics, ecotourism, export of wellness products and services, real estate and retirement, and  manufacturing (fiber optic cable, algae diesel, industrial seaweed, local production of already existing wellness products, etc.).

High-level business forums on investment and joint venture opportunities and one-on-one business matching with local SMEs from Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija and Aurora who are potential partners, suppliers or clients, as well as presentations and tours of the Subic and Clark industrial parks will also be held.

It will also include the group’s attendance at the annual 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); and culminating in a meet-and-greet moment with President Aquino.

Texas Honorary Consul-General Ethel Reyes-Mercado, who also serves as National Chair of the US Federation of Philippine-American Chambers, of Commerce and co-organizer of the Trade Mission, adds the dimensions of tourism and humanitarian work to the business missions of the group.

“Our trip is not complete without having the delegates enjoy some of best tourist attractions in Central Luzon, and adding a humanitarian weekend at the tail-end of the Trade Mission,” Consul Mercado said.

“This year, we will spend a weekend in Eastern Visayas and see with our own eyes the fruits of our rapid response to the devastations wrought by Typhoon Haiyan this time last year,” she insisted,

Within 24 hours of the touch down of Typhoon Yolanda last November, the Federation launched “Operation Save lives” that has raised more than $1 million in aid to the typhoon victims. They also  adopted an island of 5,000 residents in northern Cebu in partnership with the ICCP Foundation for a full year of reconstruction and rehabilitation. The Federation also sent aid to Leyte and Samar through local partner NGOs such as One World Institute. Members of the Trade Mission delegation will visit these projects to deliver more people-to-people assistance.

“This is the humanitarian side of our Trade Mission that we always include. It gives our business mission a heart and soul,” the Federation Chair and co-organizer of the trade mission said.

The delegation includes the officers of the Philippine-American Chambers of Commerce in Texas, Florida, California, New Jersey, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Michigan and Washington State.

Companies represented include: 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.

“IT Tech support and business process outsourcing (IT/BPO) continues to be a frontier industry that US companies like IBM, Sprint, Verizon, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, Texas Instruments, DELL Computers, Convergys,   Microsoft, US Airways and a host of other U.S. companies are finding to be very worthwhile and appealing in the Philippines from cost and work quality standpoints,” the head of the Trade Mission reiterated.

“As a former colony and a long-time ally of the US, the Philippines enjoys tremendous advantages over other countries that also provide outsourced services. The recently concluded IT/BPM Global Summit in Makati that some of us attended outsourcing partner country,” he added.

Development partners of the 2014 Trade mission include: 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.

Event sponsors include: 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 Mr. Gus Mercado, at (972) 814-7548 in the US or local 0917-9990874 or landline 771-7777, local 3008 in the Philippines, or email gmercado@datalogixtexas.com or ermercado@verizon.net or ethelmercado@PhilHonConsulateTX.org