The year was 1989. During his speech in Seoul, South Korea, former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke voiced out the need to create an organization set to enhance and maintain economic growth in the Asia-Pacific region.
This led to the establishment of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, an annual conference that aims to create avenues for equitable trade and investment, business facilitation, and economic and technical cooperation. The first summit was held in Canberra, Australia.
1996: Subic Freeport in Angeles, Pampanga played an important role in hosting the first ever APEC Summit in the Philippines. The country welcomed world leaders like United States President Bill Clinton, Brunei Darussalam’s Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, and Australian Prime Minister John Howard among others. The conference had major discussions in imposing free and open trade and investment, business assistance measures, long term goals in the World Trade Organization (WTO), strengthening economic cooperation, and enlisting many business sectors to be part of the APEC process.
2015: The Philippines was once again given the honor to host the APEC Summit. With the theme “Building Inclusive Economies, Building a Better World”, this year’s event focused on four main points: creating withstanding and competent communities, investing in human capital development, improving regional economic assimilation agenda, and urging small and medium enterprises to participate in regional and global markets. Further, the summit also discussed the fight against terrorism, poverty, and climate change.
With the visit of the 21 delegates, our country’s potential as a democratic nation stood out. We continuously take pride in our country’s historical sites such as Intramuros which is known as the oldest district in Manila, the National Museum where a vast collection of Philippine artifacts are displayed, and the Clock Tower of the Manila City Hall which opened to the public in 1930 and now serves as a famous landmark in the Metro.
The two emerging cities of Manila and Makati made a great impression throughout the APEC Summit. Event activities were held at Makati Shangri-la Hotel, the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) and the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
We started as a growing nation during the first APEC Summit held in the country and now we have closed the loop as we have shown our progress in this year’s APEC Conference. Although there are still things to be improved, our nation is certain that we can achieve greater things through unity and cooperation.
I guess it’s just fitting to say thank you, not only to the delegates who graced us with their presence, but to all Filipinos as well. We have proven our hospitable attitude by providing a warm reception to our visitors.
To our fellow countrymen: Congratulations for a job well done! To all delegates: Thank you and come again.