APEC Second Senior Officials’ Meeting
20 May 2015
Sagana Ballroom, Shangri-La Boracay
Undersecretary Laura Q. del Rosario
APEC 2015 SOM Chair
Good morning fellow senior officials, colleagues, guests, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you have been having a good time in Boracay despite the very muggy weather and despite the crowded tourist season. First of all, I would like to officially welcome you all, in behalf of the Philippines, to this island of Boracay for the Second APEC Senior Officials’ Meeting. We are a little over 300 kilometers south of Manila, in the province of Aklan, on an island known for its white sand beaches, and one of the primary tourist destinations the Philippines has to offer.
There are different stories about how Boracay got its name but I would like to tell you about the one, which involves the vision of an enterprising couple, Lamberto and Sofia. Regarded as the pioneers of this island, the Tirol couple are known to have settled at the northern coast of the island and started planting coconut fruit trees, corn and tobacco for livelihood. They are also credited with greening the island. When they came to this island it was still nameless. But one day, Lamberto was at the beach looking seaward, and he noticed the froth and foam that formed as the waves hit the white sand of the seashore. In the local language, he called out to his wife and said, “Acay! Hanggod ca bora! Acay!” “Bora” in the local language means “bubbles,” and “acay” is a term of endearment, which means “darling.” Apparently, one of the natives overheard the conversation and the name “Boracay” stuck and was later on used to refer to this whole island, meaning “darling bubbles.”
But more than just to give the island a name, the couple’s decision to settle on the island and till the land for livelihood, and stimulate development started a chain of events that would change the landscape of the island and set it on a course towards being the tourist destination it is today. Later on, economic activity diversified from rice farming and goat-raising to other activities, and gradually turned to tourism.
By the 1980s, the island was already beginning to be a popular destination for tourists who wanted to keep it secret; they did not want others to come here. But of course, the Internet got in the way. By the 90s, its beaches were acclaimed as some of the best in the world. Since then, Boracay has become a leading tourist destination and home to tourism-related enterprises of different scales.
As you see, my dear colleagues, the island was borne out of the industry of the people and an entrepreneurial spirit delivering, rendering services willing to take chances.
This is the same spirit that drives the work of APEC to open the highways to new frontiers and address next generation issues with a forward-looking approach to economic policy. Here, we fearlessly tackle issues, which would have direct contributions to uplift the lives of our ordinary people. We see economic growth through the lens of inclusiveness, taking into consideration the varying context that characterize the Asia-Pacific region, and promote areas of cooperation, not only in trade and business facilitation, but also on issues which affect the very fabric of the man on the street.
We talk of connectivity with an end in view of an integrated economic and human system built on sound economic policies, which are truly inclusive and empowering. We want MSMEs to fully participate in the creation of value in the Global Value Chains because we understand that the success of our MSMEs will redound to the benefit of all. We want our children and future generations to be educated and equipped with the knowledge and skills that would sustain them through the changing economic and technological landscape long after we are gone. We want to fully harness advance in technology to our advantage, and improve the quality of life that our people have. We want technology to sustain our way of life rather than to extinguish the resources to which our very sustenance depends on. We want governance and good regulatory regimes embedded in our economic ecosystem.
My fellow officials, we work with the future in mind and chart the way towards inclusive growth through the different initiatives and programs we have set and taken upon ourselves to fulfill. I hope that Boracay is a good backdrop of what we in APEC want to achieve and secure for the future on this island, where the earth, sea and sky are one. We hope you find time to enjoy what this island has to offer and realize that it is indeed more fun in the Philippines.
Thank you and a very good morning.