Dr. Gary Song-Huann Lin, representative of Taiwan, stressed the importance of “two-way tourism” in the economic interest and growth of both Taiwan and the Philippines at the 2015 gathering of Filipino alumni of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office’s (TECO) scholarship program.
Allotting a significant part of his keynote address to this area of cooperation between the two nations, he noted how the number of tourists from both sides has grown in the recent past, and that he believes it will continue to do so once more flights between Manila, Cebu, and Puerto Princessa to Taipei are opened.
Dr. Lin further announced the good news that the Philippine government will liberalize visa requirements for Taiwanese visitors to the country by extending the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) system as beginning July 1, 2015. (See related story on MECO).
“I believe that the Philippine government’s new approach will certainly facilitate the two way traveling so as to boost the tourism industries in our two countries.”
Besides TECO’s scholarship alumni, special guests from the Philippine public and private sector also attended the gathering, whose highlight was Dr. Lin’s inspirational message.
The ambassador first commended the Filipino alumni for their contribution in enhancing Taiwan-Philippines relations, which has never been stronger than it is today. Dr. Lin pointed out, “As ‘seeing is believing’, their studies in Taiwan have helped them to discover and witness that Taiwanese, just like Filipinos, are warm, friendly, honest, hospitable, courteous, innovative, creative, diligent, optimistic, energetic, generous, and peace-loving. In fact, we share so many similarities and common values.”
He further ascertained that the experiences the Filipino alumni have gained in Taiwan “enriched them to blend two kinds of perspectives and two kinds of mind sets into their world views.”
Dr. Lin then noted that many of the alumni are currently holding key positions both in the public and private sectors, and are considered by Teco as “good will ambassadors [who]present the beauty of Taiwan and its people to their fellow Filipinos.”
With regard to his mission, Dr. Lin said he considers himself as a “bridge builder,” serving both as a pioneer and an engineer to “build the bridge between Taiwan and the Philippines.”
“There is an urgent need to have a bridge upon which we can have more exchanges, more mutual understanding, more educational and cultural exchanges and more investments,” the ambassador explained.
Dr. Lin also pointed out that the investment will be mutually beneficial if Taiwan and the Philippines form joint ventures to explore opportunities. One example is to explore projects aiming to strengthen the agricultural cooperation. Taiwan is renowned for turning a small-scale farm into a much higher value of eco-tourism and leisure farm, and has the technique, capital and expertise to upgrade and improve many agricultural products of the Philippines.
Dr. Lin further emphasized that Taiwan may offer expertise in small and medium enterprises (SMEs), as the business structure of Taiwan and the Philippines is quite similar.
“Taiwan’s experience and economic development model can be borrowed by the Philippines and the two sides should work together, complementing each other, and creating more jobs for the young Filipinos.”
In terms of Taiwan’s assistance in digital education, Dr. Lin related, “Based on our long standing friendship and good will, Taiwan has helped the Philippines set up 17 APEC Digital Opportunity Centers, allowing more than 180,000 Filipinos to receive training. Among them, 47.77 percent are female. It is a friendly gesture that Taiwan sends to assist the young Filipino generation to catch up with the digital era.”
For economic integration, Dr. Lin encouraged more Filipinos to invest in Taiwan, which is a stronghold of the world’s high-tech industries and an indispensable link in the global industrial chain. He elaborated, “As Taiwan has been actively pursuing regional economic integration, striving to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, it will enable the Philippines to share the fruits of Taiwan’s culture of innovation, strong manufacturing and excellent international marketing networks.”
The ambassador expressed his fervent hope in achieving a closer and stronger Taiwan-Philippine relationship as the former moves toward regional economic integration.