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PHL to host WEF event in 2014

President Aquino chats with Credit Suisse International vice chairman David Mulford after attending the Roundtable Meeting with Global Business Executives at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on Friday. With them are Ayala Corp. chairman and chief executive officer Jaime Augusto Zobel de Ayala and president and chief operating officer Fernando Zobel de Ayala. (From


MANILA, Philippines - Saying Filipinos are no longer second-class citizens on the international stage, President Aquino announced yesterday that he accepted the offer for the Philippines to host the East Asia Summit for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2014.

Aquino believes the Philippines is back on the radar of world business and the international community, citing the investment teams that will be sent to the country to assess opportunities after his participation in the WEF in Davos, Switzerland.

In an interview with CNN, Aquino said he was asked why the Philippines was “not in the radar’s range of so many entities for the last five years or so.”

“But now we are, so they want to know more... The praise that we’re getting from so many quarters is universal. Now, there will be substance,” he said, adding, “We had to talk to everybody practically (at) the same time.”

Aquino said the East Asia Summit for the WEF would be a good opportunity to showcase the Philippines to the world.

He said the event would probably be bigger than the Asian Development Bank (ADB) annual meeting held in Manila last year.

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“ADB is very, very supportive of us. So, will it get us mileage? Of course, it will not be as widely attended as the one here in Davos, but again, it puts us on center stage of the world for that period, which is something like July or so. The details will have to be worked out. It was offered to us, and I accepted,” Aquino told reporters at the Europe Hotel in Davos Friday (Saturday morning in Manila).

Aquino made the announcement following his successful attendance in this year’s WEF annual meeting in Davos.

Aquino said the attention the Philippines is getting now is something that Filipinos could be proud of.

“Especially now that I think we have a message that we want to share with everybody else. There are things that we can be proud of. We can participate in the world stage and not feel – how should I put it – like a second-class citizen… I don’t know if you’re aware of this, that it is not awkward or embarrassing to participate here because there are things that we can be proud of,” Aquino said.

When the East Asia Summit for WEF is held in the Philippines next year, Aquino said the participants would be experiencing warmer weather compared to the freezing winter in Davos.

It’s more fun in Phl

In his remarks at the roundtable meeting with global business executives in Davos, Aquino invited bigwigs from all over the world to also consider the Philippines for leisure.

He said the Philippines is committed to continue eliminating corruption and institutionalizing reforms, invest in people and lure more investors.

“These are truly exciting times for our country. We are realizing the long-untapped potential of our country, and we are here to invite you to join us… We Filipinos have always been proud of the beauty of our country, and of the hospitality of our people, and we want to show them off, to attract even more tourists to our shores,” he said.

He told the meeting that the Philippines’ Department of Tourism has embarked on a campaign to show the world that “It’s More Fun in the Philippines.”

“And so many have taken notice. Publications like Conde Nast Traveller, the New York Times, and Travel + Leisure Magazine have cited the Philippines as a prime beach holiday destination,” Aquino said.

He said figures indicated that 4.3 million tourists visited the Philippines in 2012 – and they ended up returning after discovering even more reasons why it’s more fun in the country.

“Tourist arrivals which are a little short of our 4.6 million tourist target, which unfortunately was the result of some political tension in the region. In spite of this, though, China’s Oriental Morning Post named my country the ‘Best Tourist Destination’ in its annual World Travel Special Trips awards, and the Shanghai Morning Post identified the Philippines as the ‘Most Romantic Destination’ in the world – an award surely inspired by the magnificent sunsets over our numerous white sand beaches, or the pristine, secluded coves dotting our many islands,” Aquino told the delegates.

He said hotels have been sprouting up around the Philippines in the past two years, indicating the country’s tourism boom.

“In fact, I hear that an additional 1,599 rooms have been built in Boracay, one of our most popular beach destinations. So, whether you want to come to the Philippines for business or for leisure, we will gladly welcome you,” Aquino said.

Aquino said tourism and agriculture are specifically in his administration’s sights since they hold the country’s key strengths – an abundance of natural resources, for one – “and because they tend to spur growth all over the archipelago, not merely in the urbanized areas.”

‘Best meeting’

Aquino, who will be back today after a brief stopover in Dubai, said the “best meeting” they had in Davos was the one arranged by Ayala Corp. as it was attended by many foreign business groups.

“About 35 different entities... Some of them have been in the country, like Mitsubishi, Unilever, etc. Then there are a lot of new entities. There is even an entity that wants to invest in the education sector, but all of the details will be fleshed out,” Aquino said in a coffee meeting with the media Friday.

He said there were no exact amounts yet on the possible investments “but I think there’s a universal consensus both by the participants and by the Cabinet members present, our business sector, that it was a very successful meeting.”

He revealed that hedge funds and similar entities are sending teams to check out exactly where their businesses can fit into opportunities in the country.

Aquino said he was able to touch base with many world leaders like Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, and had “a very good conversation” with them. (From