Welcoming remarks of Dr. Henry Lim Bon Liong, Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII) president

Opening ceremony of the 33rd biennial convention of FFCCCII

SMX Convention Center; Mar. 23, 2023 at 12 p.m.

His Excellency President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr.;

Distinguished guests from the government, diplomatic corps and business sector;

Delegates to our 33rd biennial convention;

Ladies and gentlemen:
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Good afternoon.

It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome all of you to the opening ceremony of the 33rd biennial convention of the Federation of Filipino Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. (FFCCCII).

We offer our special welcome to our guest of honor and keynote speaker, His Excellency President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., for his gracious presence on this occasion.

Your excellency, participating in this convention are more than 800 outstanding business leaders of the Filipino Chinese community. They represent all the regions of our country and all sectors of our economy.

In the next three days, we will report and account the projects and activities we have done in the past four years. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, our federation decided to postpone the convention last 2021 to this year.

When we talk about the pandemic, we recall how all of us struggled to cope with the health challenge and adjust to the new normal. But with our combined efforts and our resilience, we all did our best to overcome it.

I wish to thank all our officers and members for the support you have provided to our federation throughout the Covid-19 pandemic even as we were faced with business difficulties and uncertainties. Together, we revitalized the federation as a strong organization in the service of our country and the Filipino people.

To help our countrymen cope with the pandemic, FFCCCII was the lead organization together with 10 Filipino Chinese civic organizations, and I, as FFCCCII president, became the chief convenor of the Filipino Chinese Community Calamity Fund, which raised and donated P300 million worth of relief supplies such as medical goods (face masks, personal protective equipment, face shields, thermal scanners and alcohol), ventilators, a testing laboratory, and also rice, canned goods and noodles.

During the same period, the Filipino Chinese Community Calamity Fund also launched several relief operations to aid the victims of earthquakes, the Taal Volcano eruption, and Typhoons "Rolly" (international name "Goni"), "Ulysses" (international name: "Vamco"), "Odette" (international name: "Rai"), "Karding" (international name: "Noru"), "Paeng" (international name: "Nalgae") and others that caused massive devastation.

When we were faced with problems in global vaccine supplies, our federation helped in facilitating the procurement of 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines at a reasonable price when then-vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., requested our assistance.

Our federation also supported the government's Covid-19 vaccination program through our FFCCCII "Operation Bakuna" project where we acquired 500,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines. We rolled out the vaccination of economic frontliners — the entrepreneurs and employees — nationwide in cooperation with local government units and Department of Health regional offices.

Even amid the pandemic challenges, we continue to give top priority to our flagship program, "Operation: Barrio schools." We had to temporarily halt the school building construction during the pandemic, but last year, we fully resumed. Currently, we are constructing over 480 school buildings.

Since "Operation: Barrio Schools" started in 1961, some 6,074 units of two-classroom school buildings or equivalent to 12,148 classrooms have been built nationwide from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi that have benefited hundreds of thousands of students. During this convention, we will have a new pledging session for more barrio (rural neighborhood) school donations.

Likewise, despite the temporary cancellations of our public medical missions due to the pandemic, we continued with our medicine and vitamin donations to help our fellow Filipinos fight Covid-19. From 2019 up to now, we have conducted 250 medical donations and missions.

Then, with fewer activities on-site during the pandemic, we completed the renovations, beautification and upgrade of the FFCCCII building's conference areas and other facilities.

When a Filipino fishing boat accidentally collided with a China fishing boat in 2019, I offered our sincere assistance and support to the 22 fishermen for the immediate rehabilitation of their damaged fishing boat. We provided them with a daily allowance while their boat was being repaired. I also personally sent trucks of rice for the fishermen and their families. And under our "Operation: Barrio Schools" program, we donated three units of school buildings to public schools in their town, San Jose, Occidental Mindoro.

These we unilaterally undertook upon ourselves with the objective of preserving the good relation between the Philippines and China.

Our federation and the Filipino Chinese community are at the forefront of promoting Philippine-China relations. Rest assured, Mr. President, that you can count on our federation as your partner to further strengthen our relations.

We are Chinese by heritage, and we are Filipino citizens committed to sustainable and inclusive Philippine economic growth and social progress.

Your excellency, ladies and gentlemen:

Apart from the review of past activities, the delegates of this convention will also focus on our theme: "Unity for development and prosperity."

By adopting this theme, we will discuss how we can further support your excellency's call for unity to build a brighter future for our families, our children and our country. We give our full support to the government's effort to further promote trade and investments, peace and order, agriculture and other growth sectors.

I, as FFCCCII president, have publicly discussed economic growth projections — which became accurate — in various press conferences. These discussions not only raised the prestige and public profile of the FFCCCII and our Filipino Chinese community, but our analyses and generally optimistic forecasts had boosted business confidence in the Philippine economy and the morale of Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs nationwide.

Let me today announce my Philippine economic forecast for 2023, which I believe shall be a robust 6 percent to 7 percent this year, especially if all of us Filipino Chinese entrepreneurs and all sectors of Philippine society follow the theme of this FFCCCII biennial national convention: "Unity for development and prosperity."

Let us unite, work hard and be resourceful.

We are, indeed, glad to witness the Philippines' strong and positive post-pandemic growth. And we reiterate our full support to you, Mr. President. We are confident that with your leadership and the continuing support of our federation, development and prosperity will be fully achieved across the country.

Once again, my warmest welcome to all of you.

Mabuhay ang Pilipinas (Long live the Philippines)!

Mabuhay ang Pangulong (Long live President) Ferdinand Marcos Jr.!

Thank you very much, and have a pleasant day.

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