"Mayor Lin redefined GNP to stand for Green, Nature and People, or more appropriately, Green Productivity, Nature Sustainability and People Empowerment." 

Last weekend, we were in Taichung for the opening of the Taichung World Flora Exposition which will showcase horticultural products not only of Taiwan but some fifty other participating countries throughout the world.

The Expo, which will run for six months until April 24 next year, is spread across several venues in Taichung City in central Taiwan. The diplomatic community in Taiwan attended the opening ceremonies and was given a brief tour in one of the venues, the Houli Horse Ranch and Forest Park.

Mayor Chia-Lung Lin in his opening remarks gave a redefinition of GNP, which we all know to be gross national product, a measurement of a country’s economic activity.

Mayor Lin on this occasion redefined GNP to stand for Green, Nature and People, or more appropriately, Green Productivity, Nature Sustainability and People Empowerment. The intention is to create and propagate green urban lifestyles that would protect nature, and engage people in supporting the new, Mother Earth protective lifestyle.

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The Manila Economic and Cultural Office in Taiwan launched several projects this year.

First is the transfer of offices under its aegis to bigger and better locations for the convenience of our OFWs who now need to go to only one office for all their needs. MECO maintains offices in the capital, Taipei, as well as Taichung in the center of the island, and Kaohsiung in its southern part.

We are the only ASEAN country that maintains three offices here—the better to serve our numerous OFWs. In 2016, at the start of the Duterte administration, our OFWs numbered 135,000, about 85 percent of whom work in Taiwan’s manufacturing industries. As of June 30, 2018, two years after, we now have 157,000 OFWs, with 87 percent working in factories.

Ours is the third largest foreign work force in Taiwan, the largest being Indonesia and the second being Vietnam.

In 2016, OFWs had to shuttle from the overseas labor office under DOLE where they likewise transact with SSS, Pag-ibig and OWWA to the MECO office for their consular and passport renewal needs. Seeing how inconvenient it was for our OFWs, we initiated a transfer to Taipei’s Neihu District. This took effect on Feb. 2018, so now all MECO-supervised offices, including trade and tourism, are housed in the entire second floor of a new building, with a dedicated escalator.

We used to be in downtown Chang-chun road with our offices located in the 11th and 12th floors of an old building serviced by only two elevators, inconveniencing not only MECO-serviced clients but other building occupants as well because of the heavy elevator traffic.

Last June, we also inaugurated a newly re-modelled one-stop shop office in Kaohsiung, and last October, a similar one in Taichung. Transacting with MECO and its labor attaches and OWWA officers is now a lot more convenient.

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One other major change is the overhauling of the MECO website. Realizing the potential of the “2nd screen” in information dissemination, we came up with a mobile app to promote our services and reach out to more people both in Taiwan and the Philippines, or for that matter, anywhere in the world.

From the old “static” website, we have a new interactive one, with links to MECO’s social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram with highly informative sections dedicated to relevant news and major announcements.

Its main page is heavy on visuals, out to get interest from users even with the shortest attention span, with three tabs on the top most portion connecting users to our most vital services.

The improvements didn’t end there though. We also developed a mobile app, which is basically a concise version of the website, an innovation I believe is first among representative offices or even among foreign posts.

Since most Filipino workers in Taiwan do not have immediate access to computers or laptops, but almost everyone has a mobile phone which they use to communicate with their loved ones back home, we deemed that the mobile app is the next most efficient way to reach out to them.

A major feature of the mobile app is its ability to send notifications to its users, which may be very useful in times of disasters and emergencies wherein MECO needs to reach out to more than 157,000 Filipinos in Taiwan.

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Whatever the Comelec’s legal or technical reasons are for disqualifying Serge Osmeña from the 2019 race ought to pale in comparison to what he can contribute to legislation and good governance advocacy in our country.

I have worked with Senator Serge mostly in running campaigns before and have learned a lot from the man. Very methodical and research-driven, Osmena’s inability to win in the 2016 elections has been a great loss to the quality of Senate investigations and committee hearings in the last three years.

Regardless of whether or not he is endorsed by President Duterte, who holds Serge in high regard for his keen intellect, I will vote for the guy, and would encourage friends and kin to do so as well.

Topics: Taichung World Flora Exposition , Chia-Lung Lin , Green , Nature and People , Rodrigo Duterte , Manila Economic and Cultural Office
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