, January 21, 2005  (STAR) INSIDE CEBU By Bobit S. Avila - Today, AboitizLand is rolling out the red carpet for the delegates to the 3rd Global Filipino Networking Convention, sponsoring a special lunch for the balikbayans at the Seaview Lounge of the Supercat Terminal, complete with a theme ó "Life in Cebu is a Cruise." Invited to grace this event is no less than Senate President Franklin Drilon.

With Cebu ranked as the seventh best tourist island destination by the Conde Nast magazine in 2004 (mind you, this was before the tsunami disaster), I donít blame Cebuanos or Cebu-based corporations like Aboitiz for being super proud of showcasing Cebu to the balikbayans in this convention of conventions.

With the 3rd Global Filipino Networking Convention underway this weekend, no less than President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) will address it. After all, one of the major objectives of this organization is "to enable overseas Filipinos to network with each other and help themselves, and to enable them to better help the Philippines." I would like to believe this is a parallel objective of the Arroyo administration.

After her address at the Waterfront Hotel, President Arroyo will proceed to the western side of Cebu to the Tsuneishi Heavy Industries (Cebu) Inc. (THICI), which is a partnership with the Aboitiz Corp., in Buanoy, Balamban to formally inaugurate the P2-billion second slipway of Tsuneishi in order to accommodate more ship orders from all over the world.

No doubt, THICI is one of the nationís biggest success stories ó success in terms of great teamwork and partnership with Filipino-owned companies with Tsuneishi a direct foreign investor, creating more global business opportunities, generating employment and economic benefits not just for Balamban or Cebu, but for the whole nation as well.

Just a week ago, The Freeman Business section featured an article by Ehda M. Dago-oc entitled "Tsuneishi penetrates European market," about the launching of the 52,000 dead weight tons (DWT) vessel Gecon 1 bound for Greece! Yes, Greece. As we learned from the Iliad, the Greeks were a ship-faring people (remember the story of Helen of Troy ó the face that launched a thousand ships?) in ancient times, and the island of Cebu was most probably inhabited by wildlife then. But last week when this bulk carrier was delivered to Greece, it was a proud day to be a Filipino!

Some five years back, I was in Pusan, South Korea and took a Daewoo-owned helicopter to Okpo Island to see the Daewoo Heavy Industriesí shipbuilding operations, which employ some 15,000 workers. While the Koreans are very much ahead in the shipbuilding industry (Hyundai is reportedly their biggest shipbuilding company), the Philippines is not far behind, thanks to our partnership with Tsuneishi Heavy Industries which has virtually put Cebuano quality on the world shipping map.

On top of that launching, Tsuneishi also celebrated its 10th year of shipbuilding at the West Cebu Industrial Park (WCIP) in Balamban, a town which every Filipino ought to study closely. You can say that Tsuneishi is a Japanese-owned company, but so are all successful companies located at the Mactan Export Processing Zone (MEPZ) with big multinational corporate names like Timex, NEC, Tamiya and LexMark.

The most important thing is that these foreign companies couldnít have done it without the Cebuanos whose efficiency, hard work and quality are fast becoming bywords in this highly globalized world. As of this writing, I just got my invitation from Tsuneishi president Kenji Kawano to join him in the blessing of their new slipway.

Not far away from Tsuneishi is the FBM Marine, which is also about to finish a fastcraft catamaran that can hold 20 vehicles, including freight trucks or tour buses ó slated for Holland. No doubt, FBM can manufacture the entire fleet of the Philippine Navy if the Philippine government wishes it so. Best of all, it would generate more jobs for our people and yes, finally if we do get our act together, we would have a real floating Navy.

I only wish that President Arroyo who has been there before, would take a second look at this facility. Incidentally, a catamaran that the FBM built a couple of years ago still services the Hong Kong-Macau route. In the past, we always bought Navy vessels from other countries because we had no one building ships in our own country. But with Tsuneishi and FBM doing their shipbuilding in Balamban, I canít see any reason why the Philippine Navy canít purchase patrol vessels here to equip our Navy or Coast Guard, while at the same time generating more employment within the country. I always like to drop by and visit Balamban because its success is the clearest proof of the "can-do" spirit of the Filipino, something that the 3rd Global Filipino Networking Convention hopes to replicate in many areas of the country.

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Who was it who said, "A picture paints a thousand words"? But what do we say when youíre caught red-handed by a video camera? This is exactly what Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia told me when her own consultant on penology, retired Col. Benjamin LascuŮa, was seen on the security cameras of the recently opened Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in Kalunasan passing on what they suspect to be an illegal drug to a detainee. Indeed, technology is the key to catching the crooks, especially one as big as the Capitolís consultant on penology.

Sure, this is, indeed, an embarrassing episode for the Cebu governor. After all, she hired this fellow, but she didnít blink an eye in having this criminal activity reported to the media, which only proves her seriousness in cleaning up the ranks of the provincial jail ó even the big fish. Aside from this incident, the Capitol consultant was also seen escorting a known drug peddler to his house after a court hearing.

So there you are... one big fish who should be thrown into jail instead of helping the government run this new facility! If as the saying goes, a picture paints a thousand words, then can we say that "a video paints a thousand pictures"? For sure, Gov. Gwen saw more than enough!

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For e-mail responses to this article, write to vsbobita@mozcom.com. Bobit Avilaís columns can also be accessed through www.thefreeman.com. He also hosts a weekly talk show, "Straight from the Sky," shown every Monday, at 8 p.m., only in Metro Cebu on Channel 15 of SkyCable.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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