Message of the Ambassador on the 111th Anniversary of Philippine Independence
One hundred and eleven years ago, our beloved nation emerged from bondage to breathe the glorious air of freedom. Our heroic forebears offered their lives so that we can enjoy dignified and productive lives.

What is asked of us now is a humbler though no less heroic sacrifice. We are called upon to give of our skills and sinews, our might and minds, so that peace, progress and prosperity can take deeper root and cast wider shade in our motherland.

The theme of our Independence Day celebrations this year—“Kagitingan, Kagalingan at Kasipagan Tungo sa Tunay na Kalayaan”—is a clarion call for us 10 million overseas Filipinos and our 85 million compatriots back home. It captures the courage, excellence and industry of the Filipino, and the fact that, through these qualities, the ideal future that we all dream of can be within our grasp.

In the long years I have been privileged to serve our country and people in various lands, it has always made me happy and proud to see our kababayans doing well in their respective fields.

As we celebrate the 111th Anniversary of our Independence, my hope is that we, Filipinos, can continue to offer our every laurel on the altar of our motherland and devote our abundant energies to the service of our kababayans.

Let us prove ourselves equal in valor to our heroes of 1898, and safeguard thereby the proud legacy they paid for with their lives to bequeath us.

Mabuhay Philippines! Mabuhay tayong lahat!



(to be attended by the Filipino community in India and invited guests)  
I. Flag Raising Ceremony at the Philippine Embassy Grounds, 8:00 a.m.
  • Welcome Remarks of H.E. Ambassador Francisco L. Benedicto
  • Reading of the Message of H.E. President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo by H.E. Ambassador Francisco L. Benedicto
  • Reading of the Message of Honorable Secretary Alberto Romulo by Second Secretary and Consul Iric C. Arribas
  • Awarding of Plaque of Appreciation to Mr. Retnasamy Swaminathan, Philippine Consul, ad honorem, Mumbai
  • Awarding of Plaque of Appreciation to Dr. Vijaya Gajananda Vaidya, Philippine Consul General, ad honorem, Kathmandu, Nepal 
  • Remarks by Mr. Dante Payawal, Leader of the Filipino Community in India
II. Evening Celebration to be held at the Mashrabiya Restaurant, The Ashok Hotel, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi
  • Reception from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m to be attended by members of the Diplomatic Corp, Indian Government Officials, Filipino Community in India and friends of the Embassy
  • Music and Dance from 9:00 -11:00 p.m

Ambassador Francisco L. Benedicto visited the Philippine Consulates General (PCGs) in Mumbai and Kolkata on 12-14 November and 17-18 November, respectively. He was accompanied in the consular visits, his first official travel since presenting his credentials to President Pratibha Patil on 10 November, by Mrs. Leontina Benedicto, Deputy Chief of Mission Maria Aileen Bugarin, and Consul Iric Arribas.

In Mumbai, the Ambassador was received by Ms. Rajashree Birla, Philippine Consul General, ad honorem, and a director on the boards of the Aditya Birla Group of Companies. A dinner was also hosted in his honor by industrialist Taizoon Khorakiwala and spouse Edith. They were joined at the dinner by guests from India's hotel, entertainment and real estate development industry. 

Meanwhile, in Kolkata, the Ambassador and his party were met by Honorary Consul General K.K. Khemka, who toured them around the PCG and hosted a reception in their honor with the local diplomatic corps and business community. Apart from these, the Embassy officials also made a presentation on doing business in the Philippines before the Indian Chamber of Commerce and had a luncheon with the Filipino community in Kolkata.

The Ambassador's visits to Mumbai and Kolkata are part of the Embassy's ongoing efforts to enhance the delivery of consular services by the Philippine Foreign Service Posts in India, as well as to project the Philippines as an attractive destination for investments, with a view to strengthening economic ties between the Philippines and India. (END) 

Ambassador and Mrs. Benedicto with Honorary Consul General Rajashree Birla (3rd from right) and the Khorakiwala family in Mumbai.

Ambassador Benedicto and party with the Filipino community in Kolkata.


In line with the theme of the 110th Anniversary of the Proclamation of Philippine Independence, “Republic Service, Tungo sa Ganap na Kalayaan at Kaunlaran,” and the Department of Foreign Affairs’ belief in its mandate to deliver this service to the global Filipino overseas, the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi organized a pair of activities for the local Filipino Community to celebrate the important occasion. 

On 1 June 2008, the Embassy hosted a lunch get-together at the Residence that was attended by more than 120 Filipino Community members and their families from Delhi and its vicinity. In addition to the preparations made by the Embassy were popular Filipino delicacies prepared by some of the Filipino Community members.

The Filipino Community Bowling Tournament organized by the Embassy on 8 June 2008 at Essex Future Bowl in Hauz Khas, New Delhi saw six teams with five members each vying for six awards. These were conferred at the end of the tournament as follows:;">
  • Highest Team Scorer: Red Team (Erlinda Sesante, Dong Mallonga, Beth Singh, Darius Ilagan, Babes Cruz)
  • Second Highest Team Scorer: White Team (Sonia Batty, Rodel Garcia, Cecille Manguan, Francisco Balanquit and Lorna Kumar)
  • Overall Top Individual Scorer: Francisco Balanquit
  • Top Female Scorer: Erlinda Sesante
  • Top Male Scorer: Francisco Balanquit
  • Top Scorer in a Single Game: Francisco Balanquit

The winners took home gifts from the Embassy with the Kalayaan 2008 logo, trophies from Essex Future Bowl, and other prizes voluntarily contributed by some members of the community.

In her brief remarks during the tournament, Ms. Maria Aileen H. Bugarin, the Embassy’s Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., reminded the community never to lose pride in their country, whose freedom and sovereign democracy were attained through the ultimate sacrifices of our forebears.

As a culminating activity, the Embassy officers and staff held a flag-raising ceremony at the Embassy grounds on the morning of 12 June 2008.

The officers and staff of the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi, led by Ms. Maria Aileen H. Bugarin, Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., after the flag-raising ceremony on June 12.

The six teams that took part in the Filipino Community Bowling Tournament sponsored by the Embassy on June 8 set aside their rivalry and gather for a group photo with Philippine Embassy officers and staff at the end of the play-offs.

Filipino Community members partake of the lunch buffet arranged by the Embassy at the Residence during the get-together on June 1.

February 18, 2008: Filipino film fest gets warm response from South Indian audience  

Mr. B. Narendran of the Philippine Consulate General in Chennai receives a memento during the inauguration of the film festival.

A 10-day Festival of Filipino Films was held in Chennai, the capital of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, from 18 to 24 February 2008, the first major event aimed at bringing Filipino movies to a South Indian audience. 


The 350-seat South Indian Film Chamber Theatre was filled to capacity for the festival's inauguration on 18 February, which was graced by Ms. Maria H. Bugarin, Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d'Affaires, a.i., of the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi, and representatives of the Government of Tamil Nadu, the Tamil film industry, and the Philippine Honorary Consulate General and other foreign missions in Chennai.

In her opening remarks, Ms. Bugarin told the audience, "The idea (for this festival) is not to give you, our audience, a visual crash course on things Filipino, but rather, to give you a window into India's fellow Asian country and eastern neighbor, with whom India has a shared history, as well as the promise of a closely linked future."

The inauguration ceremony was followed by the screening of the opening film, Inang Yaya by director Pablo Biglang-awa. Ten other titles were included in the lineup of the festival, namely, Dekada '70 Muro-Ami Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa Jose Rizal Mano Po 3 Panaghoy sa Suba Till I Met You Matakot Ka sa Karma , and Kasal, Kasali, Kasalo.

Tamil Nadu is home to a robust local film industry also known as Kollywood, which is second only to Mumbai-based Bollywood in terms of its contribution to the Indian film industry, the world's largest in terms of ticket sales and number of films produced.

The film festival was made possible through the joint efforts of the Philippine Embassy in New Delhi, the Philippine Honorary Consulate General in Chennai, the Madras Film Society, and the Indo Cine Appreciation Foundation.
October 4, 2007: President Arroyo invites India pharmaceutical firms to make RP base of export operations  
PRESIDENT ARROYO IN INDIA STATE VISIT-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo addresses the Confederation of Indian Industries (CII) Meeting at the Ballroom of the Taj Majal Palace and Towers in Mumbai, India Thursday afternoon (Oct. 4). The President, who is in India for a three-day state visit, invited the Indian businessmen to invest in the Philippines. Also in photo are (from left) Philippine Ambassador to India Teresita Vega Berner, Foreign Affairs secretary Alberto Romulo, and Deputy Chairman Banmali Agrawala of the Confederation of Indian Industries. (Exequiel Supera-OPS/NIB Photo)

MUMBAI, India- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday invited India's pharmaceutical companies to make the Philippines their main base of operations in Southeast Asia. 

In her speech before the Confederation of Indian Industries at the ballroom of the Taj Mahal Hotel this afternoon, the President said the Philippines is strategically located as a base of their export operations to Northeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand. 

She said that only two days ago, the Quality Affordable Medicines Act was approved by the Philippine Senate on second reading and the House of Representatives is expected to follow suit soon. 

"The final passage of the Quality Affordable Medicines Act will be a major milestone in our administration's efforts to promote better health and longer productive lives for our people," the President said. 

She thanked the senators for their speedy action on the bill as she called on the House to approve the measure. "The people have waited far too long for this measure to be enacted," she said. The government said the enactment of the Quality Affordable Medicines Act will promote better health, particularly among the marginalized Filipinos. 

When enacted into law, the President said the measure would provide the legal framework to allow the production of cheaper medicines in the Philippines instead of sourcing them from abroad. "We share this good news with the Indian business community to encourage your pharmaceutical companies to set up production facilities in the Philippines so that you can keep your market," she said. 

October 4, 2007- President Arroyo backs India's 'Look East' policy  

MUMBAI, India- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that the Philippines supports India's "Look East" policy that could open more opportunities for cooperation and integration between their economies. 

Speaking before Indian businessmen at the Taj Majal Hotel here, the President said that India, now the world's fourth largest economy, has made impressive economic strides in recent years. 

"India is becoming an undeniable driving force behind global economic growth. Because of the growing market of India and China, growth in Asia is transitioning from being export-driven to being domestically-driven," she said. 

"We are delighted with the growth of India, along with China, to add to the power of Japan in the region," the President said, adding that the Philippines benefits from this growth. 

She said India's awakening can only lift up the Philippines. "This is a positive healthy development. We welcome the economic growth of India." The President said India's ascendance to the world economic stage has political, economic and strategic implications for both India and the East Asian region. 

"That is why we support India's 'Look East' policy and your plans to integrate with both South Asia and Southeast Asia. We hope this policy will include greater economic integration between the Philippines and India," the President said. She expressed the hope that there will be greater integration between the two countries through closer political, economic and security engagements, and cooperation in tourism and movie production. 

Aside from being the Philippines' biggest supplier of half-priced medicines, India is also into textile, business process outsourcing (BPO) and steel in the country. 

The President said her state visit here to entice more investments reciprocates the state visit of Indian President Abdul Kalam to the Philippines in 2006, and the participation of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the East Asian Summit held in Cebu last January. 

"We hope these three visits coming one after the other will lead us toward closer political security and economic engagement," the President said. 


October 4, 2007: $60-M trade agreements signed between RP, India  

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo witnesses the signing and exchange of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) between IP Biotech Philippines and Indian Immunologicals Limited for the manufacture and distributorship of cheap medicines and other pharmaceutical products in the Philippines. The MOA signing took place Thursday afternoon (Oct. 4) at the Taj Majal Hotel in Mumbai, India between IP Biotech Chairman Jaime Gonzales (left) and Vijay KV Balasubramaniam of Indian Immunologicals Ltd. (Exequiel Supera-OPS/NIB Photo)


MUMBAI, India - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo witnessed the signing here Thursday of three trade agreements worth more than $60 million that are expected to further strengthen economic ties between the Philippines and India. 

Signed in the presence of the President were the Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) between IPVG Corporation of the Philippines and Credence Analytics of India; Family Vaccines and Specialty Clinic (Philippines) and Panacea Biotec Ltd. (India); and the Joint Venture Agreement between Emcure Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (India) and Macropharma Corp. (Phils).

The President who, prior to the event, keynoted the Confederation of Indian Industries meeting at the Ballroom of the Taj Mahal Palace and Towers, was joined in the signing ceremony by Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo and Energy Secretary Angelo Reyes. 

The agreement between IPVG Corp. and Credence Analytics of India provides for the establishment of knowledge process outsourcing facilities for the banking and financial sectors which represent 30 percent of the total global outsourcing industry estimated to reach $110 billion dollars by 2010. The estimated transaction is valued at US$50 million in one year for IPVG. IPVG Corp. Chairman Jaime C. Gonzalez and Credence Analytics (India) Pvt. Ltd. President Vijay Simha signed the MOA for their respective companies. IPVG Corp. is a publicly-listed company in Makati City engaged in businesses relating to information technology, and manages and operates, among others, a business process outsourcing (BPO) company. Credence Analytics is an India-based specialist financial solutions firm that offers software products and outsourced services primarily to banking and financial units and businesses. 

The MOA signed by Panacea Biotec Ltd. Managing Director Rajesh Jain and Family Vaccines and Specialty Clinic Inc. of the Philippines through its Managing Director Jaime Enrique Gonzales provides for the importation and distribution of medicines and vaccines leading to the setting up of additional 100 clinics and providing quality and affordable healthcare to a minimum of half a million Filipinos. The estimated transaction value is US$10 million over two years. 

The joint venture agreement between Emcure Pharmaceuticals Executive Director Arun Kumar Khanna and Macropharma Corp. President Jose Salvador M. Rivera provides new, effective and reasonably priced medicines to the Philippines. Emcure chose to award exclusive marketing rights to Macropharma because of their similar adherence to current goods manufacturing practices and to high ethical standards in drug marketing. Emcure manufactures and distributes pharmaceutical products and formulations in India and markets the same in the domestic and international markets. Macropharma is in the business of marketing and selling of pharmaceutical products in the Philippines and is desirous of promoting, marketing and selling the products of Emcure in the Philippines. In this agreement, Macropharma will be able to initially offer drugs in renal diseases, including anti-rejection drugs for renal transplant and anti-cancer therapy. 

October 4, 2007: Indian BPO firm to expand RP operations  

MUMBAI, India - Sutherland Global Services (SGS) of India announced Thursday that it will expand its call center operations in the Philippines with two new sites to be established outside Metro Manila. 

Sutherland president K.S. Kumar made the announcement when he paid a courtesy call on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Taj Majal Hotel where she is billeted while in Mumbai. 

Kumar informed the President that SGS's new call centers would be established in Camarines Sur and Davao City. The Davao City call center will hire 100 workers. 

The two new SGS's sites are expected to create 500 additional jobs to the firm's total workforce in the country. There are 2,000 Filipinos employed by the Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) company at its Clark Freeport Zone (CFZ) operations. 

Sutherland Global Services was also among the first locators at the new IT Park in Tarlac, with its 100-seat call center expected to be online by January 2008. 

He told the President that SGS is finalizing the evaluation of a proposed 200-employee call center operation in Iloilo and the planned training facilities in seven provinces to accommodate 500 graduates every month. 

The President thanked Kumar for his company's confidence in the Philippines and assured him of the government's full support for SGS's expansion program. 

In a separate courtesy call, WNS Global Services, India's largest BPO company, presented to the President its upcoming call center project in the Philippines which was registered with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) last Sept. 26. 

She said Global Services made the right decision when it chose the Philippines as the site for its operation. The country now boasts of an expansive telecommunications network and a highly productive and English-proficient Filipino workforce. 

With India leading the group, the Philippines is currently ranked among the most favored destinations for BPO operations worldwide. 

October 4, 2007: President Arroyo invites Indian investors to join bidding for privatized government assets  

MUMBAI, India - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has invited Indian businessmen to participate in the bidding for state properties under the government's privatization program. 

The President extended the invitation during her meeting Thursday with members of the Confederation of Indian Industries at the Taj Majal Hotel. 

"We invite Indian corporations to participate in the bidding for our asset privatization and to invest in Philippine government-owned and controlled corporations," the President said. 

She said the Philippines has cut red tape and liberalized its visa policy to make it easier for investors and visitors to enter the country. 

A good example of a privatized government asset is the Iligan Steel Mill in Iligan City which was acquired by India's Ispat Industries Ltd., owner of Global Steelworks Philippines, for $225 million in 2004. Before it was privatized, Iligan Steel was operated by the National Steel Corporation (NSC). 

Ispat Industries managing director Vinod Mittal paid a courtesy call on the President Thursday afternoon at the Taj Majal Hotel and briefed her on the status of his company's operation in Iligan. 

Mittal said they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrading the Iligan steel mill, already the largest single investment so far of an Indian company in the country. 

Ispat Industries' Iligan steel mill, which has an annual output of three million metric tons (MTs), supplies the requirements for cold rolled coils and flat steel products in the Philippines and other countries. 

October 4, 2007: President Arroyo out red carpet to Indian investors  

MUMBAI, India - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has rolled out the red carpet for Indian businessmen wanting to invest in the Philippines. 

In her meetings Thursday with various business leaders here, the President cited the investment opportunities the Philippine has to offer, ranging from, among others, investor-friendly policies of the government to a highly-reliable, efficient and productive workforce. 

Among the India companies the President invited to invest or expand their business operations in the Philippines were Praj Industries Limited, hotel and resort operators, and film producers. 

During her meeting at the Taj Mahal Hotel with executives of Praj Industries Limited, a pioneering Indian distillery firm, the President also invited Praj Industries president and chief executive officer (CEO) Shashank Inamdar to establish his company's regional headquarters in the Philippines. 

Praj Industries is one of the world's leading distillery companies providing innovative solutions in ethanol, bio-diesel and brewery technology as well as wastewater treatment. Aside from their Indian home base, Praj Industries also has plants in Britain, Germany, the United States and Australia. 

The President had earlier announced her administration's determination to pursue a sustainable alternative energy program to lift the country from its dependence on expensive imported fossil fuel and at the same time help minimize greenhouse gas emissions that lead to global warming. 

The President is also pushing for the massive propagation in the Philippines of jatropha that could be used as a diesel substitute. Jatropha seeds could be exported to India for processing. 

The President also invited India's hotel and resort owners to invest in the Philippines, particularly in the Central Philippines beltway, to promote tourism. 

The Philippines, she pointed out, has a lot to offer to tourists such as pristine waters, scenic spots and white sand beaches. 

"We invite tourist and tourism investors to come over. We invite Indian hotel chains, such as the Tata Group and the Oberoi Group to look at, and consider the Philippines as a destination for your next projects," she said. 

She also told Rajiv Gujral, chief executive officer (CEO) of Taj Mahal Hotel Resorts and Palace, to take advantage of the increasing tourists traffic in the Philippines. Ecotourism has become extremely popular and a growth sector in the Philippine economy, she said. 

The President also regaled Indian filmmakers with the captivating location sites in the Philippines for making movies, the Filipinos' creative talents, post production houses and other technical and logistical requirements. 

"This is an advantage not only for investments but also as a film location site for the largest movie industry in the world, Bollywood," she said in her address before the Confederation of Indian Industries at the Taj Mahal Hotel. 

October 5, 2007: President Arroyo looks forward to revival of cultural ties with India  

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is accorded full military honors as part of the welcome ceremonies for her at the Forecourt of the Presidential Palace Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi Friday morning (Oct. 5). The President is on a three-day state visit to India to promote economic, trade, political, cultural and other aspects of diplomatic ties between India and the Philippines. (Exequiel Supera-OPS/NIB Photo). 

NEW DELHI - President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said here today that she looks forward to the revival of cultural ties and enhancement of economic, political, trade and diplomatic integration between the Philippines and India.


"India played a very important influence on the culture of the Philippines way back before the Spaniards colonized us and we want to revive our cultural ties," she said in a brief media interview after the welcome ceremonies accorded her at the Forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi this morning. 

The President described India now as the fourth largest economy in the world and with that, she said, comes great responsibilities to her neighbors in the economic, political and security fields. 

"And as one of the neighbors of India in the East Asian region, we are happy to be here to move the integration of our economies forward," she explained. 

The President arrived Thursday night at the Palam Air Force Station here from Mumbai. She was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, Trade and Industry Secretary Peter Favila, Tourism Secretary Joseph Durano and Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye. 

Clad in an aqua marine dress, the Chief Executive arrived at the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the Indian Presidential palace, at 9:05 a.m. (11:35 a.m. Manila time) officially opening her State Visit here. 

She was accorded red carpet welcome by Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh and President SMT Pratibha Devisingh Patil amid full military honors. 

The President walked down the red carpet aisle towards the dais where the Indian Guard of Honor band played the Philippine and Indian national anthems. Singh and Patil introduced President Arroyo to the members of their cabinet and dignitaries. 

The Filipino Chief Executive then placed a wreath at the Samadhi (tomb) of Mahatma Gandhi, walked around the tomb in a clockwise direction before returning to the archway where she signed the Visitor's Book. She then returned to the Oberoi Hotel where she is billeted for the rest of her visit. 

This afternoon, the President will have an expanded bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Singh before attending a State Banquet to be hosted by President Patil in the evening. She will have a series of courtesy calls with various Indian businessmen and prominent personalities as well as a coffee meeting with the Filipino community. 

October 5, 2007: President Arroyo bares signing of 9 bilateral agreements with India  
PRESIDENT ARROYO IN NEW DELHI -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is welcomed by Indian President Pratibha Patil (left) and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh upon her arrival at the Forecourt of the Presidential Palace Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi Friday morning (Oct. 5). The President is on a three-day state visit to India to promote economic, trade, political, cultural and other aspects of diplomatic ties between India and the Philippines. (Exequiel Supera-OPS/NIB Photo)

NEW DELHI, India -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo announced today the signing of nine bilateral agreements aimed at fortifying the economic, political, security and cultural relations between the Philippines and India. 

The President made the announcement during the forum of the Filipino-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and India's Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Oberoi Hotel here this afternoon.

The President said these agreements are: 
Framework of Philippines-India Bilateral Relations, and Agreement to Establish the Joint Commission on Bilateral Cooperation. 

"These two agreements identify priorities, set directions and lead Philippines-India relations to a new era in various areas of cooperation such as defense and security, health and medicine, trade and investments, energy, agriculture, tourism and culture," the President said. 

The $50-million credit line from the Export and Import Bank of India.

"We hope this can finance transactions that will correct the lopsided nature of our trade in favor of India. With India now as one of the world's top economies with a new middle class of half a billion people, your internal market demand and domestic consumption can have a direct and positive impact on us in terms of job creation, balance of trade and investment," the President said. 

Philippines-India Joint Declaration for Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism 

"Indeed, terrorism is an international blight. If we are to fight terrorism together we must strengthen our defense cooperation. Last year, we signed a defense cooperation agreement but that should be carried out and implemented," she said. 

The President said defense cooperation should be more intensive such as the exchange of military personnel and students, joint military exercises in non-combat activities such as disaster response, peacekeeping, and other humanitarian actions. 

Memorandum of Agreement in the Field of Health and Medicine, and Agreement between the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC) and the Indian State Trading Corporation for the purchase of $35 million worth of quality but affordable medicines from India. 

"Our massive spending on Ø health care includes importing pharmaceuticals from India as part of our program to cut in half the price of medicines commonly bought by the poor," the President said.

Memorandum of Agreement on Enhanced Cooperation in the Ø Field of Renewable Energy. 

"We are developing a biofuels industry that helps our energy independence, create jobs and keeps our nation clean for future generations. Yesterday Praj Industries informed us they are ready to roll out their Philippine bio-ethanol plant soon. We also want to explore joint ventures between Philippine and Indian institutions to produce biofuel from sweet sorghum and jatropha," the President said. 

The President said she has invited Indian corporations to participate in the privatization of the National Power Corporation (Napocor) and the National Transmission Corporation (Transco). 

"Yesterday, Kalpataru Power Transmission said they would join the bid for the December privatization of our national transmission grid," the President said. 

Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between the Foreign Service Institutes of the Philippines and India. 

Memorandum of Agreement on the Waiver of Visa Requirements for Holders of Diplomatic Passports and Official Passports. 

"We have liberalized our policy towards Indian nationals. We had an anachronistic policy considering Indians as restricted nationals. How illogical to restrict nationals of the world's fourth largest economy when we should be courting you instead," the President said. 

As a result of India's new-found economic power, the President said there are political, economic and strategic implications for India and the East Asian region. 

"As India becomes a true political and economic giant, your obligations to your neighbors also increase, separate from your obligations to your own citizens. These are big responsibilities which we hope will be accommodated in our bilateral relations with each other," the President said. 

October 5, 2007: Bollywood to produce movies using RP's beautiful scenery as settings  

NEW DELHI -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today that Bollywood (the Indian version of Hollywood) movies would be produced in the Philippines within the year using the country's beautiful scenery and alternative location sites as setting. 

Speaking before the Joint Business Forum (CII- FICCI- ASSOCHAM) at the Oberoi Hotel here, the President said she invited Indian filmmakers during their courtesy call on her Thursday in Mumbai to consider the Philippines as an alternative site for producing Bollywood films. 

"When we explained this to 17 members of Bollywood yesterday, they agreed to visit the Philippines before the end of the year to look for film locations. The leading producer, Aditya Raj Kapoor committed to make a movie in the Philippines within a year," the President said. 

The President said the Philippines offers fine location sites, creative Filipino talents, post production houses and studios, and other technical and logistics requirements for Bollywood, the largest film industry in the world which is producing some 1,000 films each year. 

In an earlier interview, Viva Films chief executive officer Vic del Rosario said the Philippines could take advantage of the huge market of India, having a population of some 1.1 billion next only to China's 1.3 billion people. 

Del Rosario said the Philippines could develop and offer alternative production sites for foreign filmmakers in Subic and Clark such as the Fantasia Philippines. 

Thomas Puig, chief executive officer of Compressor Films that was involved in the production of the top-grosser film "Pirates of the Caribbean," added that his company is eyeing alternative production and location sites such as Fantasia's giant water tank and the scenic islands and water areas in the country. 

October 5, 2007: President Arroyo hails new $1.6-billion investment of India's Ispat Industries in RP  

NEW DELHI, India -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hailed today the planned $1.6-billion new investment of Ispat Industries Ltd., owner of Global Steelworks Philippines, which is so far the biggest single Indian investment in the Philippines. 

The President made the statement during the forum of the Filipino-Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and India's Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry at the Oberoi Hotel here this afternoon. 

The President said that because of the highly conducive investment climate in the Philippines, Global Steelworks now joins the billion-dollar investments made by America's Texas Instruments and AES, Hanjin Industries of Korea and Marubeni Corporation of Japan. 

Ispat Industries Managing Director Vinod Mittal reported on their plan to establish a new integrated steel plant in southern Philippines during a courtesy call on the President Thursday afternoon at the Taj Majal Hotel in Mumbai. 

"Global Steelworks of Mittal joins our billion dollars club by informing us of their plan to set up an integrated steel plant in southern Philippines involving investments of $1.6 billion," the President said. 

As part of the government's asset privatization program, Global Steelworks Philippines acquired in 2004 for $225 million the Philippines' largest steel mill in Iligan City, formerly operated by the National Steel Corporation (NSC). 

During his courtesy call, Mittal reported to the President that they have already spent hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrading the Iligan steel mill operation that has an output of three million metric tons (MTs) per year. 

Mittal said they now supply the requirements for various steel products in the Philippines and other countries. 

October 6, 2007: President Arroyo brings home US $2 billion worth of trade and investment from India  

AGRA, India -- President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo left India today for Manila bringing with her more than US$2 billion worth of trade and investment she reaped during her three-day fruitful state visit here. 

The biggest investment that the President would bring home is the US$1.6 billion investment of Ispat Industries Ltd. for the establishment of the first large steel mill in the country in years to be put up in southern Philippines. 

Ispat Industries, owner of Global Steel Philippines, is the country's biggest producer and exporter of various steel products after acquiring the Iligan steel mill of the National Steel Corporation (NSC) for $225 million in 2004. 

Global Steel now joins the billion-dollar club of investors that include Texas Instruments and AES Corporation of the US, Hanjin Corporation of Korea, and Marubeni Corporation of Japan. 

Aside from this, the President also bagged several million-dollar investments from India's ICT and BPO companies such as Sutherland Global Services, Hinduja Corporation, and WNS Corporation which have committed to set up call centers and training facilities in Manila, Camarines Sur, Iloilo, Davao and other provinces in the country. 

The President also announced several new investments on energy from Indian companies like Praj Industries which will set up a multi-million dollar bio-ethanol plant in the Philippines, and Kalpataru Power Transmission which would participate in the bidding for the privatization of the National Power Corporation's transmission grid in December. 

In the health and medicine sector, five agreements worth some $170 million were signed between Indian and Filipino private companies, which would assure the continuous supply of low-cost medicines into the Philippines. 

These include the MOA signed between the Philippine International Trading Corporation and the State Trading Corporation of India for $35 million worth of medicines that would be sold in Botika ng Barangay outlets throughout the Philippines under the President's half-priced medicines initiative. 

On the diplomatic front, nine bilateral agreements were signed between the Philippines and India following President Arroyo's meeting with India Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pratibha Patil which would strengthen the relationship of the two countries in the areas of trade and investments, health, energy, agriculture, tourism and culture, and defense and security. 

In her series of meetings with Indian businessmen, the President was able to secure a commitment from top Indian film producer Aditya Raj Kapoor to produce a movie in the Philippines next year which would pave the way for more collaboration between Filipino and Indian filmmakers. 

The President was also able to secure an investment commitment from Taj Resorts and Hotels to consider Central Philippines tourism beltway as possible site for its next multi-million dollar hotel and tourism project. 

Other investment commitments she bagged are: a $50 million credit line from the Export and Import Bank of India for the financing of supply of gems and jewelry polishing equipment from India to the Philippines; 

A memorandum of agreement between the Philippines and India for the establishment of an Indian business process outsourcing (BPO) company named Credence Analytics with the Philippines' IPVG Corp; RP-India Joint Declaration for cooperation to combat international terrorism and agreement on the establishment of a joint commission on bilateral cooperation. 

The Philippines and India also signed memorandum of agreement on the exemption of visa requirements for holders of diplomatic and official passport; memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the Foreign Service Institute of the Philippines and the Foreign Service institute of India. 

The President and her official delegation toured the world-famous Taj Mahal here this morning and had plenty of photo opportunities in the world heritage site before departing back for Manila. 


Philippine Ambassador says that direct investments by Indian entrepreneurs in her country have reached a significant level, covering sectors such as BPO, textile, chemicals and steel production. Teresita V. Berner, who has recently joined in the Philippine Embassy at New Delhi, informed that Indian marketing executives, finance experts, software developers and management consultants had begun visiting the Philippines on assignments and as consultants discussing business strategies and conducting sales calls. She led the business delegation from Philippines in a meeting organized by FIEO on 18th May at New Delhi.


Earlier, FIEO Convener (IT & EP) Mr. Subhas h Mittal observed that though Indo-Philippines bilateral trade had reached USD 730.16 million in 2005-06 still there was large scope for expanding the trade between the two countries. The delegation was on a visit to India to explore business opportunities in the field of food manufacturing (snack foods, beverage products, fruity juices, soda), garments (nightgown and ladies inner wear), skin care products, jewellery (Philipineppine South Sea Pearls), logistics (international cargo and freight forwarding services), machinery for making brass shell casting of ammunitions. Visiting delegates revealed that they were looking to forge partnership with Indian businessmen in the field of transport logistics, shipping, BPO and financial services.



5 June 2007 - Philippine Ambassador to India Teresita V. Berner presents her credentials to H. E. President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, President of the Republic of India , on 22 May 2007 in New Delhi . Ambassador Berner is accompanied by Philippine Embassy Second Secretary and Consul Iric C. Arribas. Shortly after presenting her credentials, Ambassador Berner conveyed to President Kalam the warm regards of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.


The Filipino film Ang Kubrador (The Bet Collector), directed by Jeffrey Jeturian and with Ms. Gina Pareno in the lead role as the "jueteng kubrador" (bet collector), won all the major awards at the 8th Osian's Cine Fan Film Festival in New Delhi.

Ambassador Laura Q. Del Rosario said Ang Kubrador was voted "the best film" by the international critics' group at the festival and also by the international jury. The Filipino films was cited for depicting the day-to-day life of a poor bet collector and how her dignity and sense of honor could still rise above the difficulties of life in poverty.

Ms. Pareno's played the role of a female bet collector whose innate nobility has remained intact despite the many deprivations that people living in the slums suffer daily. Ms. Pareno was chosen Best Actor (Female). The festival's international jury decided not to award the Male Best Actor award this year.

The Philippine film's grand slam win of the top three major awards - best film by the international critics, best film by the festival's jury, and best female actress - is the first in Osian's Film Festival's history.



Fifteen wholesalers and travel agents from the cities of New Delhi and Mumbai went to the Philippines for the first-ever Philippines-India travel exchange. Organized under the guidance of the Philippine Department of Tourism and with complimentary airfares from Cathay Pacific Airways, the Embassy lent its assistance in bringing the Indian tour operators to three main destinations: Manila, Cebu, and Bohol from 10 to 17 July 2006.

Considered the world's second-largest nation with a population of 1.1 billion, India is also one of the largest tourism markets with a huge middle-class population of between 250 million and 350 million.

This introductory familiarization tour is the first phase of the marketing campaign that will try to tap into the huge Indian tourist market whose outbound travelers are expected to top 7 million in 2006.

According to one of the participants, Mr. Sanjeet of Buzz Travel Marketing of India-- that with the Indian economy growing at 7 to 9 percent annually-- the number of outbound Indian travelers is expected to also grow by 9 percent annually, reaching 50 million by 2020. He said that for this year Indian tourists are expected to spend a total of $2.5 billion, with "per visit average spending" amounting to $1,200 in shopping destinations like Singapore, while Americans and Europeans spend only an average of US$600 per visit.

Tourism Secretary Ace Durano cited the importance of selling the Philippines to India, because the country accounted for about 14,000 visitors of the total 6.5 million Indian tourists who traveled abroad in 2005. He noted that Singapore and Malaysia garnered a sizable volume of the total Indian tourist traffic. Data showed that in 2004, some 471,181 Indian tourists visited Singapore and another 172,966 went to Malaysia. During the Embassy's post-familiarization discussions with the tour participants, they identified the MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) and group tours as the potential target market from India.


The Philippines assumes Chairmanship of the ASEAN- New Delhi Committee (ANDC) from July to December 2006. In her acceptance remarks, H.E. Ambassador Laura Quiambao- del Rosario, Philippine Ambassador to India mentioned that ANDC would play an active role in support of the initiatives under the ASEAN- India dialogues. As the ANDC Chairperson, Ambassador del Rosario also assumes the role of Area Coordinator for ASEAN in the diplomatic corps of India. ANDC is a venue where the ASEAN Missions in India exchange information on consular, economic, cultural and political affairs. Apart from the regular meetings held among the ASEAN Heads of Missions in India, cultural and sports events are also organized under its auspices to promote the diversity and richness of the ASEAN culture in New Delhi as well as to strengthen camaraderie among the

ASEAN Embassy personnel and their families. H.E. Ambassador Laura Quiambao- del Rosario, Philippine Ambassador to India accepting the ASEAN logo that symbolizes Chairmanship of the ASEAN- New Delhi Committee from outgoing ANDC Chairman and Myanmar Ambassador to India H.E. U Kyi Thien.



The Philippine Embassy, New Delhi hosted a dinner to the Filipino Community in New Delhi in celebration on the Philippine Independence Day as well as a farewell dinner to 4 departing Filipinos. In her brief message, Ambassador Laura Q. del Rosario welcomed the guests and hoped that the event will be an opportunity to meet one another given the fast movement of Filipinos coming in and going out of India.

As a result of the event, an e-groups for the Filipino Community in India was created as an initiative of Mr. Gary Kho, a Filipino working for IBM India. According to Mr. Kho, "the purpose of this eGroup is to create a virtual community that will help Filipinos and friends living in India or about to live in India through discussions, insights, recommendations, advice, and support about living in India." The e-mail address isThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


(FICCI Media Press Release)

NEW DELHI, May 19, 2006. The Mayor of Cagayan de Oro City of the Philippines, Mr. Vicente Y. Emano, today made an impassioned plea to Indian business to invest in the city, strike beneficial business partnerships and explore the possibilities of export to third countries.

Addressing an Indian trade and industry representatives at an interactive meeting organized by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Philippine Embassy, New Delhi with the City Mayor and a high-power business delegation from the Philippines, Mr. Emano said: "We would want you to seriously consider Cagayan de Oro City as an investment destination and I assure you that we will adjust to you in making it easier for you do business in our city."

The Mayor said Cagayan de Oro is a veritable goldmine for those in search for new investment and tourist destinations. The city, he said, offered a range of advantages, which the Indian business could cash in on. It has rich agriculture environs, a broad consumer and manpower base, cheap and abundant power, strategically located international seaports, modern telecom facilities, adequate infrastructure and a highly efficient educational system.

Indian business, Mr. Emano said would find the city as an urban center with a regional market orientation, a high level of sophistication and an economy that is closely intertwined with the economies of the entire region.

Mr. Biren Nanda, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs, spoke of the strong desire on the part of India and the Philippines for closer economic and political links. He called upon Indian and Filipino business to pursue joint ventures and collaborations and reach out to third country markets in the ASEAN region.

Mr. Vikas Jalan, Chairman, India-Philippines Joint Business Council, said, there were bright prospects for technical cooperation between India and The Philippines in sectors such as dairy and other agro-based industry, CNG for public transport, bio and thermal energy and in space and defence-related industry. He expressed the hope that the India-Philippines bilateral trade would go up to US$ 2 billion before 2010 from US$ 577 million last year. This goal, he said, could be realized by working together in IT, pharmaceuticals, dairy, agriculture, manufacturing and agro-processing.

The meeting was also addressed by Ms. Ninfa U. Along-Albania, Administrator, Phividec Industrial Authority (PIA), who gave a presentation on the PIA Industrial Estate.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo hailed last night the visit of Indian President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam to the country, saying it highlighted the close political, economic and cultural relations between the Philippines and India.

"Mister President, your visit highlights our closeness in political, economic, and cultural affairs," President Arroyo said during the state banquet she hosted in honor of the visiting Indian leader at the Rizal Hall of Malacañang Saturday night. She said "Filipinos share with Indians a love for democracy, a passion to promote the health of our peoples, and a drive for enterprise and excellence in the knowledge economy."

"Filipinos and Indians are both spread all over the world. There are 10 million Filipinos all over the world, there are 20 million Indians all over the world. We can and we should complement each other's strengths and potentials," she said. As pioneering democracies in Asia, the Philippines and India can help create greater opportunities "for our peoples and the entire regional community," she added.

"India and the Philippines are long-standing pioneering democracies. And we shall continue together to fight soldier-to-soldier the serious threat of religious extremism and intolerance, and to defend the democracy that our two countries pioneered and championed in Asia," President Arroyo said.

She thanked the Indian leader "for putting the Philippines back on the radar screen of India.

"She said the Philippines will continue to work with India in making available to the people affordable medicines, developing alternative sources of energy, and promoting mutual visits and tourism. The Philippines is seeking complementary partnerships in information technology, heavy industries, electoral reforms, and the fight against religious extremism. President Kalam's visit has elevated bilateral relations between India and the Philippines "to a more meaningful level," President Arroyo said.



President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo received today from visiting Indian President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam the improved varieties of sweet sorghum and "Asha" peanuts from India, which are both being introduced for commercial production in the country.

The turnover of the improved varieties took place after the two Presidents witnessed the signing of several cooperation agreements this morning at the Reception Hall of Malacañang.

Asha peanuts, which are almost double the size of the local variety, were introduced to the Philippines last year and being pilot-grown in Cagayan and Isabela for possible commercial production.

Sweet sorghum is a good substitute for sugar and a raw material for the production of ethanol, which is already being blended with gasoline (up to 10 percent) in several Asian countries including India.

The improved variety of sweet sorghum is now being considered the best alternative to supplement sugarcane in line with the Philippines' plan to establish a national ethanol fuel program.

The cost of producing one liter of ethanol from sweet sorghum is lower that that from sugarcane molasses.

Local distilleries, which only operate at 50 percent efficiency due to the limited availability of molasses, can be fully utilized if cultivation of sweet sorghum is promoted for ethanol production.

Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban, one of the Cabinet officials who attended the bilateral talks with India, said, "sweet sorghum can be a good substitute for sugar."

Panganiban said they are now planting sweet sorghum in Cagayan Valley in commercial scale for animal feeds and eventually for ethanol production.

"The government, through Presidential Assistant (Oscar) Garin, with the DOST (Department of Science and Technology), DOE (Department of Energy), and SRA (Sugar Regulatory Administration) will send a delegation to India to look at their operations (ethanol production) and learn from it," Panganiban said in an interview. Panganiban said sweet sorghum is very resistant to drought and can be harvested in shorter time than sugarcane.

He said quick planting of the improved variety of sweet sorghum is a good substitute for sugar in case of a shortage, aside from providing animal feeds richer in micronutrients and minerals from the bagasse of sugarcane.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo formally welcomed Indian President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam in the course of his four-day state visit to the Philippines during appropriate ceremonies in Malacañang this morning.

President Kalam and his 50-man delegation arrived at 10 a.m. and were welcomed by the President upon embarking at Malacanang's Kalayaan grounds.

A 21-gun salute welcomed the visiting Indian President as the national anthems of the two countries were played successively. Afterwards, President Arroyo invited President Kalam for the inspection of the honor guards.

President Kalam was then introduced to the welcoming Cabinet officials and members of the diplomatic corps. India's chief of protocol likewise introduced President Arroyo to the Indian delegation.

President Arroyo and President Kalam walked toward the main entrance of the Palace for the signing of the Guest Book. The two leaders then held a 20-minute one-on-one talk at Malacañang's Music Room and a 30-minute bilateral talk at the Aguinaldo State Dining Room.

After the bilateral meeting, the two Presidents witnessed the signing of agreements on defense cooperation, tourism, agriculture, and expanding the Philippines' supply base for quality but low-priced medicines from India.

President Kalam turned over to the President the improved varieties of sweet sorghum and Asha peanuts from India which are both suitable for commercial production in the country.

The President then guided President Kalam to the main staircase and bid him goodbye.

President Kalam arrived in Manila Friday afternoon for a four-day state visit that includes an address before a joint session of Congress on Monday.

The Indian President and his delegation will depart for Seoul, South Korea on the same day.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will hold a one-on-one meeting tomorrow (Saturday) in Malacanang with visiting Indian President Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam.

The first Indian President to visit the Philippines in 15 years, President Abdul Kalam arrived in Manila this afternoon for a three-day State Visit.

The two Presidents are expected to sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on tourism and defense cooperation, abolition of visa requirements, executive program of culture, renewable energy and medicine.

President Abdul Kalam will be accorded arrival honors in Malacanang at 10 a.m. before his meeting with President Arroyo, who is expected to request India to play a key role in promoting inter-faith dialogue in addressing conditions that give rise to religious extremism.

The Philippines is also expected to make a good case on complementation, rather than competition, with India on the multibillion-dollar information and communication technology industry (ICT).

The country is likewise expected to engage India on affordable medicines and pharmaceutical raw materials in support of President

Arroyo's "Botika sa Barangay" program that offers quality but cheap medicines for common illnesses such as colds, fever and diarrhea.

Also tomorrow, President Arroyo will host a state dinner in honor of the visiting Indian leader at 7 p.m. at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang.

On Monday (Feb. 6), President Abdul Kalam will address the joint session of Congress.

The Indian President's Philippine itinerary includes a visit to the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna, and the Philippine Science High School in Quezon City.


Investments in health and technology are expected to highlight talks between Manila and New Delhi during the three-say state visit to the Philippines by Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam starting tomorrow, Feb. 3.

Both India and the Philippines are considered leaders in business process outsourcing and have strong potentials in the medical tourism market, factors which could very well be tapped by both countries in their bilateral talks.

The Philippines is expected to enlist India's support for its initiatives in international fora on inter-faith dialogue, counter-terrorism and maritime cooperation.

It is also ready to engage India on affordable medicines and pharmaceutical raw materials and ICT operations and partnerships with the latter's "Look East" policy.

Kalam's visit to Manila is upon the invitation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He will be accompanied by three members of the Indian parliament and officials from the Indian Foreign office.

The Indian President will be accorded arrival honors at Malacanang at 10 a.m. Saturday, followed by the signing of the Palace Guest Book.

An expanded meeting, which follows the one-on-one talk between President Arroyo and Kalam Saturday, will culminate with the signing of Memorandums of Agreement in tourism and defense cooperation, abolition of visa requirements, executive program of culture, renewable energy and between the Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC) and the Indian pharmaceutical sector.

A state dinner in honor of Kalam will be held at the Rizal Hall of Malacanang Saturday starting at 7 p.m.

Upon his arrival in Manila Friday, Kalam will visit the University of the Philippines College of Nursing in Manila and host a reception for the Indian Community at the Philippine Plaza Hotel.

On Sunday, Kalam will visit the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and Philippine Science High School in Quezon City before addressing a joint session of Congress at 2 p.m. Kalam will be the fourth head of state to address a joint session of Congress following US President George W. Bush, Chinese President Hu Jin Tao and Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.

He leaves for Seoul, South Korea at 3:40 p.m. for the next leg of his three-nation swing which also includes Singapore.



President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is expected to encourage India to play a key role in promoting inter-faith dialogue and understanding among people of diverse religions, when Indian President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam makes his three-day state visit to the Philippines starting tomorrow, Feb. 3.

Inter-faith dialogue is a distinct Philippine advocacy which it has been pushing in various world forums, including the United Nations where it has gained recognition and endorsements as a means of creating inter-faith harmony and addressing conditions that give rise to religious extremism and intolerance.

India, a multi-religious society, hosts the second largest Muslim population in the world.

President Kalam's visit, the first by an Indian head of state in 15 years, is upon the invitation of President Arroyo. It will reciprocate the 1997 state visit to India by then President Fidel V. Ramos.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto G. Romulo said Philippine-India talks during the visit will focus on revitalizing the bilateral ties between the two Asian democracies and to explore areas for regional cooperation.

India and the Philippines are fellow participants in the ASEAN-lndia Summit and the East Asia Summit of Leaders, which the Philippines will host in December this year as the incoming ASEAN chair.

The East Asia Summit is a meeting of the heads of state of regional neighbors China, Japan, South Korea, India, Australia, New Zealand, and the 10 member-states of ASEAN.

The highlight of the state visit will be the official bilateral talks between Presidents Arroyo and Kalam on Saturday (Feb. 4) in Malacañang, with the further strengthening of bilateral trade and investments on top of their agenda. Romulo said the Philippine government is keen on inviting Indian investments in the health and technology sectors where the economies of both countries can complement each other's strong points. Both countries are considered leaders in business processes outsourcing and have strong potentials in the medical tourism market.

The Philippines has identified India as a major source of affordable quality medicines in line with President Arroyo's program to make medicines accessible to all Filipinos.

Romulo said the Philippines and India are also expected to sign a defense cooperation agreement during Kalam's visit. The accord, he said, will boost defense ties, deepen naval and maritime cooperation and strengthen the annual security dialogue between the two countries.

On Monday, Feb. 6, the Indian leader will address a joint session of the Philippine Congress. An eminent scientist in India, President Kalam is also scheduled to visit several educational institutions in Metro Manila including the Philippine Science High School and the University of the Philippines, where he will interact with students, faculty members, and Filipino scientists.