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21 October 2008

SBMA's Salonga gets achievement award from USMMA

Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) Chairman Feliciano G. Salonga recently received the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) — his second award from his alma mater for various achievements in the maritime industry.

Salonga, who holds the rank of a commodore in the Philippine Coast guard Auxiliary, is largely credited for shifting the focus of the Subic Bay Freeport to the maritime industry since taking over as SBMA chairman in 2005.

The paradigm shift, SBMA officials acknowledged, ushered in investors in maritime trade like the Korean shipbuilder Hanjin Heavy Industries and Construction Co., which now operates a $1.6-billion shipyard here.

The award, according to the USMMA Alumni Foundation, is given to graduates of the academy who best exemplify the finest tradition of the merchant marine corps "Acta Non Verba" — or deeds, not words — by attaining personal achievement in their chosen field.

The USMMA, which is based in Kings Point, New York, trains men and women as officers in either the maritime industry, which is considered the fifth service in the US armed forces, or the army, navy, air force or coast guard.

Salonga entered the academy in 1949 as a scholar under the US government's Philippine Rehabilitation Act of 1946, and graduated from the prestigious school in 1953.

He is the first Filipino in the USMMA Class of '53 to receive the Outstanding Professional Achievement Award.

Prior to the recent award, the USMMA had honored Salonga with his first achievement award in 1988 when he was an executive of a private shipyard in Batangas.

During that stint, Salonga was instrumental in the successful negotiation to build three ships for ARAMCO — the country's first business contract for the giant Saudi Arabian petroleum firm.

The second USMMA award, however, "is truly special because I consider it as an affirmation of what I have kept close to my heart — the academy's tradition of 'Acta Non Verba'," Salonga said.

"This is what drives me to perform well, to pitch in my modest share in building a better future for the young generation of Filipinos," he added.

Since his appointment as head of the SBMA, Salonga has tapped his connection with the USMMA to introduce modern education to local students in the maritime industry.

Last year, Salonga proposed the establishment of the Subic International Maritime Institute (SIMI) and tapped the assistance of the Global Maritime and Transportation School (GMATS), a Kings Point-based institution which has a continuing education program.

The Subic project is envisioned as a collaboration with local maritime schools like the Philippine Merchant Marine Academy in San narciso, Zambales to produce more qualified seafarers, especially shipboard officers.

These efforts, Salonga said, "comes from a keen sense of obligation to give back what I have received from my scholarship at Kings Point."

"It is also what continues to drive me today to maximize resources in making a maritme powerhouse out of Subic," he stressed.

Salonga explained that it was his background in the maritime industry — and his education at the USMMA — that earned him the appointment by President Arroyo to head the SBMA.

"Knowing that Subic Bay is a huge maritime resource just waiting to be tapped, the President told me three years ago to run Subic. And look at what we're doing now — Administrator Armand Arreza and I really work ourselves to the limit to make Subic a leading maritime service and logistics center in the whole of Asia," he said.
Salonga is also slated to be elected chairman of the International Network of Affiliated Ports (INAP) during the group's 10th annual assembly here in Subic late this month. INAP is composed of seven international ports in the Asian region. (SBMA Corporate Communications)

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