Joyful & meaningful, resilient & sustainable

MIKE ABOUT TOWN - Mike Toledo - The Philippine Star
Joyful & meaningful, resilient & sustainable
President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.
Photo from Presidential Communications Office

San Francisco, the Golden Gate City, played host recently to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) CEO Summit and Economic Leaders Week, the final meetings of the APEC United States host year.

APEC is a regional economic forum established in 1989 to “leverage the growing interdependence of the Asia-Pacific.” It is considered the premier platform for the United States to advance economic policies in the Asia-Pacific region to promote free, fair, and open trade and investment, and advance sustainable and inclusive economic growth.

The United States chaired APEC in 2023. APEC meetings throughout this year have focused on regional economic issues, sustainability, digitalization, and energy security, among others.

The APEC CEO Summit 2023 was considered the most influential meeting of business and government in the Asia-Pacific. It brought together CEOs, entrepreneurs, thought leaders and key stakeholders together with world leaders from the Asia-Pacific region for two days of robust dialogue on global opportunities and challenges that are shaping economic, environmental and societal trends in the region.

Meanwhile, in concluding APEC 2023, the Economic Leaders Week gathered economic leaders from 21 APEC member countries, ministers, the private sector, and other stakeholders to engage on global challenges. Its theme was “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”

President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos was a speaker at the APEC CEO Summit 2023, in the fifth session, the Sustainability Dialogues, in a high-level dialogue on “International Equity in Sustainability.” The dialogue also included Li Zhenguo, founder and president of LONGi; Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber; and Anna Bjerde, managing director for Operations of the World Bank. This dialogue was facilitated by Michal Lev-Ram, Fortune editor-in-chief.

In his speech, President Marcos said that they “meet at a challenging time when bleak forecasts loom over the progress we have made since the pandemic.”

He also mentioned that, cognizant that our priorities, our strategies, and approaches differ, platforms such as the APEC prove instrumental in finding policy congruencies and coordination of our efforts and that he saw five elements that were critical to this:

Firstly, that our table must continue to expand to accommodate seats to represent all our people; second, that the partnership of our governments with stakeholders, especially the business sector, must both broaden in scope and deepen in commitments; third, that the race to sustainability comes with the risk of escalating protectionism; fourth, that markets should be left to operate as optimally as we can, but where they fail, government needs to intervene and economic reforms should be used to increase the effectiveness of provision of services, redistribute benefits aimed at reducing inequalities and increasing living standards, and strengthening our economic foundations to resist shocks and crises and further stimulate growth; and fifth — and probably the biggest challenge — that we have to increase the level of our ambition and enlarge the scope of our cooperation.

In closing, the President emphasized once more that global and regional economic governance platforms such as APEC are geared towards averting conflict because sustained prosperity and progress are only possible in a world that is at peace, which in turn must be a peace that is built on a solid economic foundation.

President Marcos’ attendance at the APEC CEO Summit 2023 was part of his six-day working visit to the United States, his third as president, again upon the invitation of US President Joe Biden.

PBBM also attended the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), where he met with top government and business leaders to discuss possible public-private partnerships (PPPs) in various fields.

From San Francisco, President Marcos visited Los Angeles, California and Honolulu, Hawaii, where he met with business leaders and the Filipino community.

The President was able to secure $672.3 million worth of investment pledges from various sectors following his participation in the 2023 APEC Summit. These pledges include $400 million for the telecommunications sector; $250 million for semiconductor and electronics; $20 million for pharmaceutical and healthcare; $2 million for artificial intelligence (AI) for weather forecasting; and $.3 million in renewable energy. He also secured significant commitments in technological advancements across key priority sectors in the Philippines, which included the deployment of the first two Internet MicroGEO satellites dedicated to the country.

Upon returning to the country, the President, together with First Lady Liza Araneta-Marcos, and members of the First Family and the Office of the President, led the Christmas tree lighting in Malacañang Palace, formally welcoming the Yuletide season.

In his short message, PBBM warmly welcomed the guests, government officials and children inside the Malacañang Compound as he emphasized that Christmas is a perfect time for reflection and a time for friends, families and loved ones.

“Christmas in the Philippines — we have gained the reputation around the world for celebrating Christmas with more fervor than most other countries. And I think that is a good thing because I think all of us Filipinos, we take Christmas as a time for reflection and a time to spend with your friends, your family, your loved ones and, of course, to watch the children, because as far as I’m concerned, Christmas is really for the children,” President Marcos said.

“And so, we watch the children, and it brings us the innocence that they bring to these festivities really… The expression I’m tempted to use is ‘it blows out the cobwebs in your brain’ and in your heart and gives you a fresh start for the next year,” he added.

Later, the President announced that the public could enter the Palace grounds to view the Malacañang Christmas tree and parols and attend the Simbang Gabi, through the celebration theme “Tara sa Palasyo.” I could not recall any time before under previous administrations when this was done — my memory probably escapes me — but this is a heartwarming gesture from our President, who said that his goal was “to make sure that every Filipino child will have a joyful and meaningful Christmas.”

Indeed, in this post-pandemic, VUCA world that we live in, my Christmas and New Year’s message to all is this: May we all strive to make sure that every Filipino will have something joyful and meaningful in the present, and something resilient and sustainable in the future.

A joyful Christmas and sustainable New Year to all! *

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