Last Sunday, Meco and the Philippine Overseas Labor offices cooperated to hold simultaneous Araw ng Kalayaan celebrations in New Taipei City, Taichung and Kaohsiung. I attended the main celebration in New Taipei City which was likewise graced by its mayor, Eric Chu. Also present were our labor attaché, lawyer Cesar Chavez and Meco directors Gilbert Lauengco and Ed Tamondong, both also lawyers.
Some 3,700 Filipino migrant workers registered for and participated in the fun run which started at around 8 in the morning. This was followed by awarding of prizes for the fun run winners as well as raffle prizes courtesy of various sponsors both from the Philippines and Taiwan companies. After lunch, The Filipino Channel mounted a hilarious show for our OFWs, starring the beautiful Bela Padilla and Negy, the stand-up comedian-artist who stars with Vice Ganda.
In Taichung, where Meco directors Maryknoll missionary Joy Tajonera and Cesar Drilon presided, TFC sent rapper Michael Pangilinan and singer Garrie Concepcion, with radio host Ahwel Paz emceeing the program. In Kaohsiung, two other Meco directors were unable to make it because of illness. But our migrant workers nonetheless had a good time celebrating Araw ng Kalayaan.
We have almost 150,000 Filipinos residing in Taiwan, most of them factory workers who receive relatively higher salaries than their counterparts in other host countries. Our de facto embassy here is the only representative office which has three offices in Taiwan, unlike others who only have their office in the capital, Taipei. We have also launched MECOnnect, an outreach program that seeks closer ties and instant communication with our OFWs, so that if they have problems that need intervention, the representative office would be just an SMS away.
Last night, we had the diplomatic reception to commemorate Araw ng Kalayaan at a historic former Army Club in downtown Taipei, attended by Taiwan officials headed by its deputy minister for foreign affairs, Francois Chih Chung Wu, and excellencies of the diplomatic corps here, as well as leading members of the business community who have investments in the Philippines.
The guests were regaled by Filipino and international songs rendered by MECO staff members and a staff member of the Senate who happened to be visiting Taipei as a tourist, as well as singing chef Wilson Cariaga of Tagaytay Highlands, a former member of the UST Chorale, who supervised the Filipino culinary fare that was served. Wilson also concocted his tea-infused desserts which blended Taiwan tea with Filipino desserts such as flan and crema de fruta, chocolate truffles and cookies, an innovative fusion that delighted the guests at the reception.
But the best news from Taiwan over the past week was our very successful participation in Innovex, the start-up component event of Taiwan’s giant Computex technology trade fair which took place from June 4 to 8 last week.
Through the efforts of the MECO and the Philippine Trade and Investment office headed by Michael Alfred Ignacio, a small Filipino contingent represented our country under the banner of Slingshot Philippines. MECO and PTIC Taipei worked closely with QBo, a public-private partnership incubator to co-organize the delegation and come up with an excellent selection of successful start-ups ready for the international market.
We had a small booth in the Innovex exhibit at Taipei’s World Trade Centre, but it was a hit, even beside richer countries with huge booths, because the start-ups we presented were truly innovative and captured the spirit of enterprises starting small and growing bigger through sheer genius and utilizable ideas.
Last October 2017, our trade counselor Mike Ignacio approached us to propose sponsoring participation at Innovex 2018. Mike was lead organizer of the first Slingshot event in Manila during the Philippine hosting of APEC in 2015. This is also in support of SMSEs which is the focus of our Secretary of Trade Mon Lopez. Start-ups are in themselves SMSEs and have a major role in supporting traditional SMSEs in seeking markets faster and leading the way for innovation-led business mindsets.
Innovex participants from the Philippines included OneWatt, which employs intuitive artificial intelligence and detection of soundwaves to come up with an ingenious diagnostic solution for industrial machinery and equipment. The device is as large as the palm of one’s hand, but could predict breakdowns and effectively have a preventive maintenance program designed to save factories significant amounts in repair and replacement costs.
Admov TNVS Advertising employs the use of AI-enabled facial recognition, which could be used in TNVS (transportation network vehicular services) providers such as Grab and Uber. The device captures facial and visual data of passengers which can accurately identify the passengers age, gender and preferred clothing brands style so as to deliver personalized advertising content, making advertising campaigns targeted and more cost-efficient.
Futuristic Aviation and Maritime Enterprise Systems (FAME) develops general aviation and maritime transponders and gateways using smart but affordable communications technologies for use on small aircraft and maritime vessels. This would be very useful in the fishing industry, among others to have compliant tracking systems for fishing companies that export tuna and seafood to the European Union.
But to cut a long story short, OneWatt won special prizes amounting to 70,000 US dollars out of some 300,000 total awards cobbled by Innovex for truly innovative start-ups. That’s quite a feat for the Philippine delegation of very young but very smart entrepreneurs in the country’s very first participation in the annual Innovex.
Ang galing talaga ng Pinoy!
While having our monthly meeting of the MECO board of directors last Monday in our Taipei office the other day, news filtered in about the sudden and unexpected demise of former National Security Adviser, former Paranaque congressman and former Postmaster-General Roilo Golez due to a heart attack.
We would like to send our profound condolences to his widow Naty and the children, who must have been in shock at our friend Roy’s unexpected departure from mortal earth.