Gov Marcos promotes Ilocos Norte investment potential at Asia CEO Forum

Mar 13, 2017 ...

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee R. Marcos graced the Manila Marriott Grand Ballroom Building on March 8 as guest speaker of the Asia CEO Forum, the largest regular business event in the country and considered one of the most important in the Asia Pacific Region.

The forum functions to promote activities of local and multinational organizations across Southeast Asia, with presenters chosen among leaders of industries who are actively engaged in pursuits that are of significance to the entire Asian region.

Past speakers at the Asian CEO Forum include Kalibrr CEO Paul Rivera; IBEX Global General Manager Eric Kaufman; Karen Batungbacal, "mother of the Philippine BPO industry;" and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Governor Marcos' panel session was joined by Karima Palafox, one of the nation's most prominent urban planners; Benedict Hernandez, chairman of the Contact Center Association of the Philippines (CCAP) and senior executive with major business process-outsourcing (BPO) company Accenture; and Bong Borja, Asia president of another BPO giant, Alorica.

"We can safeguard peace and order," Governor Marcos stated, explaining how from a land known for warlords, private armies, and random violence, the province became "among the most peaceful areas in the country," thus doing a great deal for businesses in Ilocos Norte.

She also reiterated how a "business-friendly" government was the goal of Ilocos Norte, sharing their willingness to provide incentives, venue grants, and product development assistance for investors.

"Time and again, we have paid for tourism promotions, advertising and marketing that our fledgling stakeholders could ill-afford," she added, presenting the province as a place ripe for high-value agriculture, processing, and light manufacturing and packaging driven by ongoing investments in renewable energy, the BPO industry, and tourism.

Attending the CEO Forum were senior executive managers of both local and international organizations; regional and international management from Asia and other continents; senior officials from both the public and private sectors; and local and international media representatives.

Investments to battle outmigration as a "last resort" for Ilocanos

Governor Marcos highlighted youth outmigration as a pressing issue for the province, as the rise of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in Ilocos Norte had led to an overdependence on dollar remittances.

While the entrance of BPO companies Accenture and Alorica last year had provided jobs for thousands of Ilocanos, she vows to continue increasing opportunities for people to thrive in their own homes, without the need to leave their families behind.

According to Governor Marcos, the youth sector had been the first to ask, "Why must we migrate to live?"

Thus she strengthened her threefold vision for a "livable, sustainable, and resilient" Ilocos Norte, improving education and healthcare services, boosting job creation and support to agriculture, and revitalizing the transportation and tourism sectors to ensure convenience for both locals and visitors.

She urged the audience, "Help us generate secure, well-paying jobs that will keep mothers and fathers at home with their children so that soon leaving home will simply be another choice."

Aside from foreign investments, Governor Marcos also boosted cultural tourism in the province through premier events like the Himala sa Buhangin! Arts and Music Festival and Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals.

Mentioning the 1980's classic film "Himala" ("Miracle") which was filmed in Ilocos Norte, she narrated the scene in which the prophetess Elsa (played by Nora Aunor) declared, "Walang himala!" ("There is no miracle!")

She continued, "Ilocos Norte today defies that award-winning movie, because we believe in life's miracles. There is a twist in the original ending: miraculously, Ilocanos now come together to change their home and transform their lives.

by Mizpah Grace Castro



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