By Jason B. Neola
NAGA CITY --- As part of the ongoing Bicol Business Month, the Department of Agriculture Bicol regional office, in partnership with the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MNCCI) and the city government of Naga last Tuesday, July 11 opened the ASPIRE Expo and the Best of Bicol Showcase with DA Assistant Secretary for Agribusiness and Marketing Leandro H. Gazmin giving the keynote address.
ASPIRE, which stands for Agribusiness Support for Promotion and Investment In Regional Expositions, is meant to promote cooperation and partnership for a dynamic market development support services to farmers, fisher folk, MSMEs and other stakeholders.
A memorandum of agreement was recently signed on June 14, 2017 between and among the DA and the Department of Trade and Industry, along with the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), the country’s largest business organization and “Voice of Philippine Business,” to which the MNCCI, a local chamber, is attached to PCCI, for the furtherance of agribusiness investment in the regions.
Fortunately, the program has been initially launched here in Naga, as well as in other regional hubs in the country.
ASec Gazmin explained that under the MOA and through the Project ASPIRE, all the parties recognize the need to optimize benefits from trade fair being a strategic platform for the promotion of agri-based Philippine products, enterprise development and agribusiness investments in the countryside.
ASPIRE also serves as networking venue for agri-entrepreneurs and that the partner agencies will work, build and further enhance existing partnerships and convergence through cooperation in trade investment and economic development with other government and private sector industry groups.
The ASPIRE program will also encourage, promote and facilitate the exchange of missions, participate and organize trade fairs, exhibitions, conferences, and seminars on capability building, mentoring, coaching and facilitating provision of other service assistance e.g. packaging, labeling, logistics, etc.
For 2017, the pilot implementation of regional trade fair under the program will be undertaken on the following selected regions; DA RFOs CAR, 3, 5 (Naga, Bicol), 6, and 12. All other covered regions are slated for 2018.
Incidentally, the convergence of various traders here came with the opening of the Bicol Business Month (BBM), an annual showcase of various enterprises with the common objective of bringing their best trade forward, excel in their endeavor and help promote the ingenuity of our local businessmen and entrepreneurs.
Naga City Mayor John Bongat, in his message, lauded the DA and the MNCCI, as well as DTI for coming together to bring to the fore the dynamism of the trading and agri-business community, particularly the farmers and fisher folks.
Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) Regional Governor Clarine P. Tobias underscored the inordinate contribution of the grassroots community to contribute to the development and success of small, micro and small enterprises.
“On behalf of the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), we will strongly push to bring the activities of PCCI to Naga, so that all the activities of the chamber of the Philippines will reach the regions,” Tobias added.
MNCCI President Gilbert Albero assured that the business chamber will always be a strong partner in the furtherance of socio-economic development and the empowerment of small and medium size enterprises in the countryside.
Regional Executive Director Elena de los Santos of the Department of Agriculture in Bicol expressed optimism on the productivity and evolving capacity of the Bicolano farmer and fishermen such that the government is always ready to assist them in terms not only of quality production but also in marketing and investment.
Bicol Business Month 2017 Chairman Ferdinand Sia said helping entrepreneurs enhance and promote their products will help uphold a more prosperous life for the most number of our people. “We, at the Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry, always hope that events like this will spur positive results for the enhancement of the lives of our people,” Sia stressed.
He said he will not end his message “without extending my appreciation to the past chairmen and chairwomen of the erstwhile Bicol Business Week that has since then been transformed to what is now the Bicol Business Month. Year after year, they have, with their own blood, sweat and tears, ingenuity and innovation, have given their best to make every business week or business month an improvement over the previous business week or business month.”
Incidentally, MNCCI is celebrating its 30th Founding Anniversary with simple ceremonies on July 30, this year, at the culmination of Bicol Business Month.
Joe Perez, VP for Chamber Management, explained that the 30th year celebration should have been done last year, but had to be postponed for this year, in deference to the typhoon that hit Bicol in December last year.
Though the roots of chamberism in Camarines Sur may be traced to the early 1960s thru the late Dr. Heracleo Guballa and the late Benjamon Ravanera, it was in 1986 that the Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry took a wider outlook and stronger community involvement when then bank manager Leopoldo Andal, with several Naga business leaders, decided to revive the organization.
When Andal was recalled to Legazpi City where he was a bank manager, Mr. Adolfo Olivan took over by bringing it into the frontiers of public service and more community involvement, Perez explained. Mr. Olivan’s term was followed by Mr. Antonio Y. Concepcion which saw the chamber’s growth in size and magnitude.
It was in 1999, under the stewardship of re-elected President Concepcion that the chamber was renamed Metro Naga Chamber of Commerce and Industry because of its expanding membership and coverage, Perez recalled.
Perez said that while the 30th anniversary was to be held before the end of 2016, the celebration was put on hold because of the typhoon that hit Bicol which occupied the MNCCI and its members to focus instead on relief operations for the typhoon victims. It was decided, therefore, that the foundation anniversary be held alongside the holding of the Bicol Business Month in July 2017.