ChadaCDO had the opportunity to work closely with the accommodating and vibrant US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. on his visit to Cagayan de oro last October 2, 2012. CDO by way will be one of the few cities he will be frequenting due to the ongoing economic and development project the US Embassy graciously granted the city through USAid. Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. first stop was at the General Douglas MacArthur Marker located at the edge of the Macabalan Wharf, Cagayan de Oro City. Local businessman Elpidio “Elpie” Paras welcomed the ambassador to the famous MacArthur marker and shared to him its history and significance to Cagayan de Oro.
A brief history about the marker by local businessman Elpidio Paras during US Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr.’s visit to the General MacArthur Marker in Macabalan Port, Cagayan de Oro City.
Local businessman Elpidio “Elpie” Paras showed Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. the PT 41 Boat replica donated by the Kagay-anon International. According to history, Gen. MacArthur landed at the Macabalan Wharf aboard PT 41 Boat under the command of Lt. John Duncan Bulkeley.
We proceeded to lunch after the MacArthur Marker visit and I had the honor to sit and actually eat with him and his wonderful staff in one table and had the opportunity to know more details about the visit. He mentioned Cagayan de Oro as one of the 3 cities chosen to play a very important role in boosting economic development through USAid (United States Agency for International Development’s) CDI(Cities Development Initiative) – a five-year contract between the City Government of Cagayan de Oro and USAid to partner in introducing developments to local residents. This will not be the last time the ambassador will visit Cagayan de oro as CDO will be highly provided for by the embassy according to the ambassador.
Right after lunch, we went straight to Xavier University to meet the University’s President Fr. Roberto Yap where he ushered the group the University’s American corner where local media waited for the Ambassador for the roundtable. He addressed some questions from the media. One of which was “What hinders American investors to come in the Philippines”. Ambassador Thomas said that for one, it’s the Restricted Foreign ownership in doing business in the Philippines. Lifting this would encourage more foreign investors to invest in the country. He also shared that investors give a very high satisfaction rate ones they come to the Philippines. Of course, who could miss asking the Ambassador on his view of the very controversial Cybercrime law, unfortunately he cannot comment on it as it is a Philippine-law and the US government doesn’t want to interfere with that. Some young Kagay-anon businessmen and women also had the chance to meet and share to the ambassador their businesses and how they do business in Cagayan de Oro.
The Ambassador with Xavier University President Fr. Roberto Yap
Ambassador Thomas also graced the opening of this year’s Oro Best Expo as the guest of honor where he also led the ribbon cutting alongwith ORO CHAMBER President Ma. Teresa Alegrio, City Councilor Ramon Tabor and Oro Best Expo 2012 chairperson Jeffrey Ang. On his speech, he assured that the US government is all out support to the Philippine’s economic growth of course with Cagayan de Oro as one of the few cities where the embassy will be putting more attention. Quoting Ambassador Harry Thomas Jr. “Your goal is our goal, to make sure your city and surrounding communities even more economically viral and to assure the development and growth are made accessible to all.” He also commended Oro Chambers for outstanding business support organization and for successfully helping in accelerating economic growth by creating more jobs and sources of livelihood. To listen to his full speech during the Oro Best Expo opening, check out video below.