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Filipino contractors, construction stakeholders aggressively exploring the Pacific-Melanesia region

MAKATI CITY, Philippines – With the insatiable desire of the Filipino contractors, consultants, and construction industry players to continuously discover and explore construction business opportunities around the globe, they are now attempting to enter the Melanesia Region in the countries of Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea. These countries identified to be rich in natural resources remained unexploited and undeveloped in their infrastructure and construction projects which Filipino contractors and consultants can aggressively take advantage.
In preparation for the expansion of their activities in the three (3) identified countries of the Melanesia Region, the Philippine Overseas Construction Board (POCB) of the Construction Industry Authority of the Philippines (CIAP) conducted its 5th Philippine Overseas Construction Symposium on 20 October 2016 at the Hotel Jen Manila in Roxas Boulevard to assist and support these Filipino construction industry players in penetrating the Melanesia market.
The welcome address and the assured government support relayed by the new Undersecretary for CIAP, Atty. Ruth B. Castelo, created an atmosphere of sincerity and genuine concern for the participants. It was matched with the inspiring words from the POCB Chairman of the Board and President & CEO of the DMCI Holdings, Engr. Isidro A. Consunji, stimulating the participants to remain motivated and keep interested on improving and adding value to their construction business through networking and business matching like actively participating in construction outbound missions being conducted by the POCB, this time in the Melanesia Region.
The symposium was highlighted by the attendance of one hundred forty-five (145) high ranking officers from the Filipino construction contractors, consultants, suppliers, and other industry players who spent their precious time listening to speakers, networking with each other, exchanging ideas and experiences with their colleagues in the construction industry throughout the day, establishing links and forging comprehensive cooperation amongst themselves. Director Levinson C. Alcantara of the Marketing Branch of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) arose awareness and interests among the participants in the construction labor market and other construction business opportunities including construction outlooks and investments in the countries of Fiji, Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea.
The pioneer and expert in overseas construction activities Engr. Salvador P. Castro, Jr., the Chairman and President of SPCastro, Inc. promoted and underlined the Filipino capability in doing construction projects in Brunei Darussalam, Abu Dhabi, and other ASEAN countries, the challenges encountered, the ways and means of overcoming challenges, identifying and capitalizing on ones strengths as well as recognizing and building on ones weaknesses, and the unending quest for an improved and more innovative construction skills and practices.
Experts in the fields of the holistic global practice of Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC), Engr. Hambe Vargas, the Manager in Projects Operations of JGC Philippines, Inc. and the globally competitive, Mr. Joseph Leland D. Sarmiento, Authorized Managing Officer of Whessoe Philippines Construction, Inc. educated the participants and get them familiarized with the process, best practices, benefits and challenges in implementing EPC not only in overseas projects but also in local projects; prompting them to continuously build on their existing capacities and undertaking calculated risks in undertaking overseas projects. The participants were likewise oriented on the Quadruple A category of the Philippine Contractors Accreditation Board (PCAB) interestingly presented by Engr. Rene E. Fajardo, the Acting Executive Director of the Construction Manpower Development Foundation (CMDF) and Head of the Technical Division of PCAB, as the new PCAB Category allowing 100% foreign-owned companies with at least P1.0 Billion capital to undertake privately-funded infrastructure projects besides projects under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) and the Public Private Partnership (PPP) schemes. An equally important highlight of the symposium and in line with the continuous effort of the CIAP-POCB to improve the delivery of its services, the Corporate Export Information System (CEIS) was launched and introduced by the Project Manager of Asiagate Networks, Inc., the service provider for the Information Technology, Ms. Jahnine A. Baliao. The CEIS is the POCB’s information system which automates its processes particularly the on-line filing of applications, and the eventual integration of databases with the PCAB licensing and registration to facilitate the process in securing the license. The symposium was successfully concluded with clamor from the participants to continue the program and to continuously promote and develop the Philippine Overseas Construction.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.