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9 June 2018

Iloilo City delegation led by Mayor Jose Espinosa III (4th from left) briefs Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez (4th from right) on the results of their trade and cultural mission to New York, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C.— From Iloilo City to Washington DC: An Afternoon of Business and Fashion - was the theme of the visit of a delegation from Iloilo City, headed by Mayor Jose Espinosa III, to the US capital on 7 June 2018.

“We are extremely pleased to have featured Iloilo City in Washington DC. This is in support of the efforts of the Philippine Government in expanding economic growth and opportunities to the regions, and to showcase the diversity and richness of regional heritage,” Philippine Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez said in a statement.

Two panel discussions on key sectors of the city were held in the afternoon at the Carlos P. Romulo Hall of the Philippine Embassy, and a Showcase of Ilonggo Fashion and Jewelry was held on the grounds of the Embassy in the early evening. Agriculture Attaché Dr. Josyline Javelosa and Commercial Counselor Raymond Batac moderated the panels on agribusiness and information technology/business processing management, respectively.

The panelists, who represented both the private sector and the local government, talked about the advantages of doing business in Iloilo City. They described efforts to build more roads, upgrade the city’s sanitation infrastructure, and ensuring Iloilo will be ready to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Local companies are trying to retain a young and talented workforce as a way to develop a strong middle class and prevent further “brain-drain” from the Philippines.

Private developers such as Megaworld have also seen the potential of Iloilo, by building a 82-hectare township, which hosts hotels, high-rise apartment buildings, and offices.

The panel on agribusiness highlighted opportunities in aquaculture, food processing, halal food production, and farm tourism. Iloilo province takes pride in being the food basket and rice granary of Western Visayas, and the city serves as a vibrant market, location and gateway that helps propel agribusiness in the region.

The overall tourism landscape in the city is also changing, promoting itself as a MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) hub and the local cuisine as an attraction in itself. Farm and fisheries facilities such as aquaponics and hydroponics in the city were mentioned as possibilities for agrotourism.

After the panel discussions, a fashion show was held on the grounds of the Embassy showcasing handloom woven hablon fashionwear and local jewelry. Hablon refers both to the process of weaving and the finished products. It is a type of weaving that belongs to a centuries-old industry in the Iloilo region.

Models from the local community and staff of the Philippine Embassy participated in a 45-minute show featuring the fashion of Djohn Clement, Totong Gellangarin, Bo Parcon, Jaki Peñalosa, and Aisha Peñalosa, and the jewelry of Regine Espinosa.

“It was an excellent event. I was impressed by the very informative multi-panel discussion on business possibilities, economic progress and fashion, springing out of Iloilo, Philippines.  And the ensuing outdoor fashion show and Philippine fare at the reception topped off the perfect evening weather,” said Mr. Vance Hum, President and CEO of I.M. Systems Group, who attended both the panels and the fashion show.

"The presentations and the visual demonstrations of state-of-the-art design from Iloilo illustrate just how far the Philippines has advanced in developing vibrant regional centers beyond the national capital region. The city's delegation made a persuasive case for Americans to consider the advantages of looking toward Iloilo as a site for investments in technology and business process operations, and for the region's improved services and high quality of life,” also said Hank Hendrickson, Executive Director of the US-Philippines Society, after the event.

Joining Mayor Espinosa in the delegation and acting as panelists in the business sessions were Rex Aguado, Commercial Diplomat for Trade Relations of the City; Jose Ariel Castañeda, Head of the City Local Economic Enterprise Office; Jose Roni Peñalosa, City Planning Coordinator; Junel Anne Divinagracia, City Tourism Officer; Dr. Carmencita Robles, Dean at the Western Visayas State University; Carla Perez, Sales Director of the Iloilo Business Park-Megaworld; and Mr. Billy Shung Hei Yuen, CEO of StackTreck Enterprises. A private sector contingent, including the fashion and jewelry designers, led by Mrs. Gina Espinosa, the First Lady of the city, was also part of the delegation.

The event was an economic and cultural diplomacy initiative of the Philippine Embassy, in cooperation with the Local Government of Iloilo City, the US-Philippines Society, and the Philippine American Chamber of Commerce of Washington DC. ###

09 June 2018

Iloilo City Mayor Jose Espinosa highlights the city’s strong investment points in his brief remarks during the 1st panel discussion on agri-business opportunities moderated by Agriculture Attaché Dr. Josyline Javelosa (seated, left-most).

09 June 2018

The second panel discussion moderated by Commercial Councelor Raymond Batac (seated, right-most) focused on why “it’s time” to invest in Iloilo City highlighting its strong macroeconomic fundamentals and investment opportunities.

09 June 2018

Jaki Peñalosa’s “wedding collection” was among the featured handloom woven hablon fashionwear at the 45-minute fashion show held at the Embassy grounds after the panel discussions.