Economic and science diplomacy stressed in Chief Envoy’s SoCal visit

Economic and science diplomacy  stressed in Chief Envoy’s SoCal visit
Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez poses with entrepreneur and philanthropist Priscilla Hunt during a recent meeting at the official residence of Consul General Adelio Angelito Cruz in Los Angeles.
Hunt was born to a political family in the Philippines and president/CEO of Hunt Enterprises, a company that develops and manages high-quality residential communities, including commercial and industrial facilities throughout Southern California.
Priscilla and husband Donald’s philanthropic efforts have benefited institutions such as The Torrance Memorial Hospital, The Salvation Army, The Little Company of Mary, and the USC Marshall Business School, among others.
Photo by Bobby Crisostomo

Ambassador Jose
Manuel G. Romualdez embarked on his first official visit to Southern California
on 13-16 September 2019, as part of his effort to reach out to
Filipino-Americans spread throughout the continental United States.

Southern
California, aside from being home to more 800,000 Filipino-Americans, is an
important economic partner of the Philippines, being home to two strategic
ports and several Fortune 500 companies, some of which have eyed the
Philippines as a potential investment destination.

The Philippines
also enjoys a thriving relationship with the City of Los Angeles, the seat of
the country’s representation in Southern California, with which two cities in
Metro Manila have sister-city and sister-river arrangements, Makati and Pasig,
respectively.

It comes as no
surprise, therefore, that discussions on trade, investment, and science &
technology dominated Ambassador Romualdez’s visit to the southern part of the
Golden State.

These sectors also
comprise the most strategic areas of interests laid out in the 2017-2022
Strategic Plan of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Philippine
Development Plan.

The visit comes at
a time of heightened interest in and anticipation of the proposed Free Trade
Agreement between the Philippines and United States, especially with the
conclusion of negotiations of the United States-Mexico-Canada Free Trade
Agreement last year.

The issue was one
of those raised during his discussions with representatives of select economic
agencies in Los Angeles, namely the Los Angeles Metro, Global Research Institute
for International Trade (GRITT) and Ever Win International Corp, which was held
at the Philippine Consulate General in the late afternoon of 15 September 2019.
GRIIT also inquired on the Philippine Government’s strategy on the impact of
the U.S.-China trade war.

Part of the
Philippine Government’s strategy is to sustain the current economic strides to
keep the country an attractive investment destination. The Ambassador
highlighted the positive developments taking place in the Philippines and
opportunities for investments, such as the “Build, Build, Build” program, New
Clark City, and many other mass transportation projects, which opens avenues
for cooperation arrangements with LA Metro.

L.A. Metro was
represented by its Filipino-American Executive Planning Officer, Mr. Emmanuel
Liban, who is also a Commissioner on the City of L.A.’s Board of
Transportation.

Ever Win
International, a California-based global supplier of electronics device
accessories, sent its Filipino-American Project Manager, Mr. Bernard Chan, and
Vice President of Strategic Business, Mr. Shyen Wang. Mr. Chan was instrumental
in the opening of Ever Win’s facility in Laguna Technopark, which started
operations early 2019.

GRIIT was
represented by its founder and CEO, Ms. Sarita Jackson. The Philippines is one
of the country focuses of GRIIT’s trade development research.

Earlier on the same
day, the Ambassador spent time with the SoCal-based Coalition of Filipino
American Chambers of Commerce (COFACC) headed by Mr. Gerry Palon and Ms. Ellen
Samson.

COFACC was founded
by 15 Filipino American business entrepreneurs and professionals representing
five Filipino American Chambers of Commerce in Southern California.

The growth of
Filipino-American chambers of commerce speaks of the transformative aspect of
the Philippine Government’s economic development narrative, that is,
transforming the Filipino mindset to becoming an investor and entrepreneur.
Ambassador Romualdez encouraged COFACC members to invest in the Philippines now
given the remarkable growth of the country’s economy.

The Ambassador’s
three-day visit was concluded with discussions on a possible cancer research
collaboration between the Philippines and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, a
general medical and surgical facility as well as a teaching hospital.

The Philippines’
interest in Cedars-Sinai is reflective of the PHL Government’s thrust to
promote science and technology under the Zero to 10-Point Socio Economic Agenda
of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

The Department of
Foreign Affairs, in particular, looks to science diplomacy as part of the
Philippine Government’s attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals and the
work it has started to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Cedars-Sinai has
been ranked as among the top 10 best hospitals in the United States aside from
having a topnotch cancer research facility. It has an ongoing cancer research
program, focusing on the Filipino-American community, which was based on
initial observations that breast cancer is one of the leading causes of death
among Asians.

During the meeting
held at noon on 16 September 2019, the Ambassador expressed his support for
said research program.

“I would like to
see more cooperation between organizations like Cedars-Sinai and the
Philippines to share information and give our people the chance to live
longer,” he added.

Modern medicine and
exchange of training and best practices in the field of nursing are also among
the potential areas for cooperation between the Philippines and Cedars-Sinai.

It is worth noting
that the link-up with Cedars-Sinai was made possible by the Filipino-Americans
positioned in the hospital’s top management, Ms. Peachy Hain, Executive
Director of the Department of Nursing and Ms. Josie de Jesus, Administrator.

To this end, the
Ambassador thanked Cedars-Sinai for its confidence in Filipino nurses and the
opportunities it opens for Filipino medical professionals to advance themselves
in the field of nursing and hospital management as seen in the number of
Filipino-Americans in the institution’s management and policy-making levels.

Around 35 guests,
including more than 20 officials of the hospital were present during the
meeting. Cedars-Sinai’s delegation was led by its Senior Vice President and
Chief Officer for Human Resources, Andrew Ortiz and Dr. Dan Theodorescu,
Director for Research, Cancer Center. 

Joining the
Ambassador in all of the aforementioned meetings were Minister and Consul
Gunther Emil M. Sales of the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C., Consul
General Adelio Angelito S. Cruz, Deputy Consul General Ambrosio Brian F. Enciso
III, Consul Rea G. Oreta, Information Officer Mary Grace “Joss” D. Leaño and
Protocol Officer Fernan M. Balicoco of the Philippine Consulate General in Los
Angeles.

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