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‘Star power’ brings VABC to a record-breaking success

By Lalaine M. Jimenea

ORMOC CITY – Hard work and “star power” made the 25th Visayas Area Business Conference (VABC) held here on September 14-16, 2016, the “biggest” ever in the history of the Visayan chambers, something that George Barcelon, Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Inc., said “even us in the national, we cannot beat you.” Barcelon, in his speech during the gala night, congratulated the organizers for the “fantastic convention” and invited Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez to be one of the PCCI’s speakers during the national convention on October. Barcelon said he was impressed with Lucy’s speech, which “came from her heart.”

He also invited Samar Gov. Sharee Ann Tan-delos Reyes to speak in the same convention, and “sell” Samar to the prospective audience. Tan’s “Spark Samar” presentation was well received by
the audience, who expressed awe at the tourist spots that the Province has started to develop. Gov. Tan assured the audience that even if there were areas in Samar that were “NPA influenced,” the spots that they have developed are safe.

Jude Abenoja, chamber president, said the VABC attracted 510 registrants from all over the region, aside from a powerhouse of speakers. He said it cannot be denied that Richard and Lucy’s “star power” had something to do with it, saying that registration spiked when the Mayor’s video inviting participants to the VABC was put on various social media platforms. “The response was phenomenal,” he said. He also thanked the Mayor for his all-out support to the business conference, adding they saved so much when he agreed to be the face of the digital invitation, and
even directed it. He also thanked the equally good-looking Vice Mayor Leo Carmelo “Toto” Locsin, Jr. for agreeing to star in the video. After Mayor Richard Gomez’s rousing welcome
message, Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez was the first speaker for the plenary session “One Visayas: Everything Under the Sun.” Panelists were Amor Maclang of Geiser Maclang Marketing Communications, Inc., tourism regional director Karen Tiopes and Samar Governor Sharee Ann Tan. Gomez, in her speech, said that Ormoc City is very much ready to welcome tourists and investors. She said Ormoc, and the Visayas for that matter, should not wait “until it is perfect” to invite visitors. “The time is now,” she said, as she urged Visayas to shine.

Speakers for the topic “Food and Agric-culture:Transformative Land and Coastal Resource Management That Serves Businesses” included Atty. Hansel Didulo, assistant secretary of agriculture for the Visayas; Robert F. Trota, chairman of the Max’s Group; Joseph Gandionco, president of Julie’s Bakeshop, and Dr. Edgardo Tulin, Visayas State University. For Inclusive Connectivity,
Albert Mitchell Locsin, vice president of PLDT Smart SME Nation, was well-received. Locsin is the brother of the incumbent ice-mayor, and his topic also generated interest as he detailed what’s bugging the cell phone industry and why, and how they are trying to meet the demands of the time. Panelists were Enrico L. Basilio of the PCCI Transport Committee, Joy Ejercito of Security Bank, Grace Anduiza of Globe (Small and Medium Business), and Atty. Bonifacio Uy, regional director of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).

Former Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla also came, as speaker of “VISAYAN POWER (BIZDak Power). He walked the audience through how power is being priced, and what steps he took to ensure that even if he’s out of the Department of Energy, the consumers have a chance to enjoy reasonable power rates. He explained that is why, even if he did not really want to become
Senator, he ran last elections because some of the reforms that he introduced “must be legislated so that it will not easily be changed.” Panelists were Aloysius Santos of First Gen and Ricky Carandang, VP for Corporate Affairs of EDC. For the Top Five Forces of Connectivity, Quintin Jose Pastrana of Bloomberg/ Cignal TV was speaker. For the topic “BIZdak SME’s”, Department of
Trade and Industry undersecretary Zenayda Maglaya was main speaker. The panelists were Eugene Acevedo, chairman of City Savings Bank; Debbie Obias, Solutions Marketing Head of Small and Medium Business; Atty. Roel A. Refran, COO of Philippine Stock Exchange; and Francis R. Oliva, head of Community Partnerships, PLDT SME. For Resilient Governance, Mr. Guillermo Luz, adviser of the Philipine Disaster Resilience Foundation was main speaker, with Maribeth Marasigan, vice president of Pilmico/ Aboitiz Agri-Ventures and Chris Imperial, managing director of ICON Equipment,
as panelists.

Another Ormocanon also made waves during the last day of the convention. House Deputy Speaker Rep. Gwendolyn F. Garcia made a rousing speech about uniting behind Pres. Rodrigo Duterte and Federalism. Her topic was “Change and Resilience.” For the 21st Century Township, Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez was represented by Ginggay Hontiveros. Panelies were Angel Veloso Jr, director of PASAR and Oliver Cam, consultant of the Business Recovery Center of the PCCI. The speakers for Human Capital were Darwin Moises, head of Global Services Operations, Lexmark Research and Development Corporation. Panelists were Dr. Emilio D. Mattheu, Jr, department chair of the University of San Jose Recoletos; regional director Cleta Omega of TESDA, regional director Maura
Consolacion D. Cristobal of CHED; regional director Elias Cayanong of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Emilio Paz, national program manager for food security and livelihood, Plan International Phils.

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