Speech at Canada Philippines Business Council’s information session ‘Canadian Business Ventures in the Philippines’

Thank you for your kind introduction.

Distinguished guests, friends, ladies and gentlemen.

Magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat. Good afternoon.

It is a great honour for me to be here among you this afternoon– a group of strong business leaders in our community.

I take this opportunity to congratulate the officers and members of Canada Philippines Business Council through the leadership of Paul Tesseyman for their hard work and dedication in preparing this important information session.

I must stress that this event is timely, indeed, as we are celebrating the “GLOBAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK”, running from Nov.12th to the 18th.

I quote our Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who said, “Entrepreneurs are among the most hard-working and innovative members of society and help contribute to a more prosperous Canadian economy.”

Our Prime Minister pointed out that Global Entrepreneurship Week Canada 2012 – hosted by the Canadian Youth Business Foundation – celebrates the dedication of these trail blazers and encourages youth to develop their entrepreneurial skills and achieve their full potential.

“Our Government is a proud supporter of young entrepreneurs (just like most of you [

In 2011, the federal government invested $20 million over two years in the Canadian Youth Business Foundation which will help support over 1,000 new businesses and enable them to continue their commitment to our country’s entrepreneurs.

The government is also committed to putting in place a modern digital infrastructure and to opening new markets for Canadian businesses.

The transformation of Canada Philippine Business Council from a local, Ottawa- based group to a national organization with chapters across the country, has enabled this business organization to better fulfill its mission of fostering, promoting, and facilitating trade between the Philippines and Canada. It has also been a source of information on trade and business opportunities in Canada and in the Philippines.

As you may have gathered from news sources, I had the chance to travel during the last one week with Prime Minister Stephen Harper to India, the Philippines and Hongkong.

On our three-day visit to the Philippines, the Prime Minister made an announcement that the Government of Canada is committed to supporting the Philippines to achieve sustainable economic growth and employment in the Philippines.

On November 10, 2012, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced support of $15.5 million over four years, starting in 2013 and ending in 2016, for a project that will promote economic growth and employment in the Philippines.

The “Fostering Inclusive Growth” initiative will support the Philippine Government in its efforts to reduce poverty and create jobs by helping them improve the regulations governing investment in infrastructure projects and increase economic opportunities for youth by providing training in market-ready skills.

I encourage you and your businesses to explore opportunities under this initiative, so we could help our fellow Filipinos back home – at the same time, grow our businesses.

The initiative — managed by the Asian Development Bank, will also provide technical assistance to selected Philippines government agencies at the national and local levels, helping develop their capacity to adopt and implement key tourism and employment policy and program measures. I encourage those of you who have expertise in these areas to partake of this opportunity as third party suppliers.

We are the third largest immigrant-grouping in this country.  Our community has a rich and diverse culture, perhaps the most important source of strength and resources for this organization. As your representative in the Upper House of the Canadian Parliament, I assure you of my support. Without you, I could not do everything alone. We need our voices heard as a cohesive group if we are to build stronger walls that can hold us all. Together, we can make and lift up the Filipino spirit and build a stronger Filipino Canadian Community that we can all be proud of.