Flores forges sister-city ties with Manila

SAIPAN and Manila are now “sister cities,” says Mayor Donald Flores.

The mayor was in the Philippine capital last month as a keynote guest speaker in the “Economic Growth Through Potential Business Partnership” conference held by the Rotary Club of Makati Uptown and the Rotary Club of Makati Nielsen in partnership with the Pimentel Institute of Leadership and Governance.

Flores travelled with Daniel S. Buniag, a special business adviser to the governor, on May 17.

Flores met Manila Mayor Alfredo S. Lim at city hall where they held a “simple” sister-city ceremony, Buniag said.

Lim presented Flores with the symbolic key to the City of Manila and a box of cigars.

In return, Flores handed Lim a plaque signifying the ties between Manila and Saipan.

While in Manila, Flores also attended a marriage ceremony conducted by Lim and became one of godfathers of the newly wed couple.

Flores also met Lim’s executive assistant Youssef Z. Ahmad, Councilor Regulus Mary C. Lim of Pasay City, Ackerman & Co. Inc. chief executive officer David C. Ackerman, St. James College System president and chief executive officer Mache Torres, and Manila Councilor Nino Dela Cruz.

Flores joined a medical mission in one of the districts in Manila conducted by Dela Cruz as part of his community programs.

Buniag said that on May 20, they went to Angeles City and visited the former Clark Air Base “to see how they have improved and promoted the area to local and foreign tourists.”

He said they were able to get ideas on tourism that could be viable on Saipan.

Flores also went to Tagaytay City to meet its officials.

In an interview, Flores said he is also considering a sister-city relationship with Tagaytay, a popular tourist destination south of Manila.

“We had some preliminary discussions with the officials there,” he said.

He met Tagaytay executive assistant of external affairs Rodolfo S. Ancheta, city administrator Gregorio M. Montreal and some of the staff members of Mayor Abraham Tolentino.

While in Tagaytay, the mayor also met executives of IT firm Amellar, who “expressed interest” in visiting Saipan.

During their meeting, Flores spoke about various business prospects on Saipan.

The mayor also invited Filipino Rotarians to visit the island and look into investment opportunities here.

Flores and Buniag fielded questions regarding CNMI tourism, flight service, immigration, labor and taxation.

“Mayor Flores and I did our best to answer all their questions to their satisfaction,” Buniag said.

The mayor also met Purdy C. Lim, representative of Zehira USA LLC president Michael C. Jimenez, to discuss renewable energy projects.

Buniag said that before they left the Philippines, the mayor met SM Investment Corp. corporate tax division senior vice president Cecilia R. Patricio to discuss business opportunities on Saipan.