During a trade mission assessment visit in Subic Bay, led by the Philippine Embassy and Virginia Beach, Senator Dick Gordon made the recommendation that Olongapo City be a trade mission possibility for Virginia Beach. This assessment trip included Press and Public Relations consultant for The Philippine Embassy, Bing Branigin, CEO and President of Travel Outlet, Roy Estaris, Businessman from Washington DC, Herman Ayayo and COO/VP of Travel Outlet, Naomi Estaris.  This recommendation was shared with Virginia Trade Department. 

 November 2012:

As Ambassadors change in office at the Philippine Embassy, it is usual form to introduce the new entourage to the Hampton Roads community, as it one of the largest Filipino communities on the East Coast. During the visit of Ambassador Jose Cuisia, Jr. and his entourage, the discussions arose in regards to the trade mission and a Virginia State Trade office to be placed in the Philippines.  This discussion included Secretary of Trade, James Cheng, State Delegate Ron Villanueva and COO/VP Naomi Estaris.  Secretary Cheng and Ambassador Cuisia were very enthusiastic of this possibility.  Mayor Sessoms suggested that the group entertain the idea that this location also be considered as the Sister City for Virginia Beach.  From many meetings and visits to the Philippine Embassy, many discussions were made to finally make the Sister City and Trade Mission become a reality.  With the assistance of the Chief Councilor Trade and Investment, Maria (Nini) Alvero and Economic Attache, Lilibeth Almonte-Arbez and Press Officer Elmer Cato, meetings were scheduled for the trade mission in the Philippines

 May 2013:

An organized trip meeting by State Delegate Ron Villanueva and Virginia Beach Economic Development Director Warren Harris to Virginia Beach, The Philippine Ambassador Jose Cuisia and entourage returned to follow-up on the trade mission and the Sister City Program.  It was recommended by Ambassador Cuisia that Olongapo be considered as a possible Sister City.  During this visit, a meeting was held with Rebecca Gurley, Director of Global Studies at Tallwood High School.  It was considered to tie-in a Student Exchange program to the Sister City Program.

 August 2013:

Our first trade mission to the Philippines was accomplished. This trip organized by the Philippine Embassy was attended by State Delegate Ron Villanueva, Economic Development Director of Virginia Beach, Warren Harris and CEO and President of Travel Outlet, Roy Estaris. An assessment trip to Olongapo City was termed successful as Mayor Rolen Paulino presented a Resolution signed by all City Council members to engage in the Sister City Program process.  This is the first of exchanges to meet the requirements of a Virginia Beach City “Sister City”.

A visit to 2 high schools also started the process of engaging in a first-ever Student Exchange between Virginia Beach and Olongapo City. In Manila, the Trade Mission began to start the process for possible food distributors and other products and service-type trades to enact a full trade mission to be delivered in October 2013.  This will also be a possible date for further exchanges for the City of Virginia Beach to continue the Sister City Program to go to the Philippines.


Mayor Paulino and his official Delegation joined SCAVB in celebrating Virginia Beach’s 50th Anniversary September 18-22.  They participated in the Economic Development Forum, the Mayoral Summit, the Tallwood High School Global Studies presentation, rededication of the Japanese Azumaya, planting of trees, dedicating two Peace Benches and Two Peace Poles and the Grand Finale Gala at the Sandler Center for Performing Arts.

 Mayor Paulino and members of his Delegation also met with the local Philippine Community and their Virginia General Assembly Delegate as well as a member of the Virginia Beach City Council to coordinate future exchanges and activities with the local community representatives.


 Student Exchange:

 March 2014 – Olongapo Students came to Virginia Beach.

October 8-18, 2014 – Virginia Beach Students went to Olongapo. This is the first complete High Sschool rotation of its kind per Ambassador Cuisia.  The Ambassador met with both teachers that accompanied the students – Mrs. Jessica Windish and Mrs. Heather Comer at the 70th Anniversary of MacArthur’s Leyte Landing in the Philippines held at the MacArthur Memorial on Sunday, October 19.  The Ambassador was pleased to hear of their trip and was looking forward to a formal presentation of the outcomes of both exchanges and the future goals of the student exchange relationship.

Eight Students from Tallwood participated in the program. Planned meeting at the PCC on November 2 to have teachers and students to present and thank the supporters and to gain further community support for the program.


Sister City and Trade Mission

 Olongapo has designated a City of Virginia Beach Office at City Hall. This office will be for multi-use:  Sister City Business and Trade-Related Business Use.  The volunteers of the Chamber of Commerce will be manning the office. Computers have been donated for this office by the City of Virginia Beach.  The office was officially Christened during the May visit.  The City of Virginia Beach Flag stands next to the City of Olongapo in front of City Hall.  The flag ceremonies were  led by City Councilman Jim Wood during the May 2014 visit. This was witnessed by Economic Development Director, Warren Harris, Scott Hall, Virginia Beach Sister Cities President Ruth Fraser, and Roy and Naomi Estaris.  As a symbol of the relationship between Olongapo and Virginia Beach, Olongapo City officials chose an Anchor to denote the past and now the present and future of the relationship.  The two cities will be anchors for one another.  Discussions are on-going to replicate the Anchor Statue and  erect one in Virginia Beach.  The Virginia Beach Peace Pole now stands in the heart of the City of Olongapo.  It points in the direction of Virginia Beach.  The markers that were handed out during the City’s 50th Anniversary were used on the post. 

 The Mayoral visit with Economic Development Director, Warren Harris occurred November 1- 9.  The visit consisted of a follow-up on the Trade trip taken by Economic Development Director, Warren Harris, State Delegate Ron Villanueva and Businessman Roy Estaris in July 2013.  The focus of the trip was to make plans for a Trade Mission in May, 2015.  The meetings included US Ambassador Goldberg, Secretary of Foreign Affairs Delrosario and the  Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Tourism.  Mayor Sessoms met  with the City Council of Olongapo and with the Chambers of Commerce of Manila, Olongapo and Clark. 

 Future endeavors will include an EMT/Safety Training facility in partnership with Norfolk Sister Cities Association and to launch a National EMS Program for the Philippines. Plans include building a Security Training facility and to provide security training for both the Philippine Military and Philippine Police.

Miyazaki City Celebrates 90th Anniversary

SCAVB President. Delegation

SCAVB President and Delegation members at Cape Henry Lighthouse Replica – Miyazaki

Ruth Fraser, Jim Wood

A Delegation led by SCAVB President, Ruth Fraser and Sister Cities City Council Liaison, Councilman James Wood, accepted Miyazki’s invitation to celebrate their 90th Anniversary in May, 2014.  They received a warm welcome at the airport upon arrival with over one-hundred people there to greet them waving Virginia Beach flags and a Banner.  Delegates were treated to a myriad of activites and tours by Mayor Tojiki and his committee, as well as the main celebration at the Kanko Hotel which was a true International Event.

Warren Harris, Director and Scott Hall, of the Virginia Beach Office of Economic Development were members of the Delegation and participated in an Economic Development Forum.

Following the celebrations in Miyazaki, the delegation continued on to Olongapo, Philippines to strengthen ties with this “Friendship City”.

SCAVB President Ruth Fraser, Council Liaison Jim Wood Mayor Tojiki



SCAVB has been honored with the 2013 “Best Overall Program Award” for cities in the 300,000-500,000 population range by  Sister Cities International.

This award recognizes the outstanding Celebration of Virginia Beach’s 50th Birthday by SCAVB that involved Mayors, Chief Executives and official delegates from North Down Borough, Northern Ireland, Miyazaki City, Japan, Moss, Norway and two potential new Sister Cities, Olongapo, Philippines and San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua. The event included business and economic summits, tree plantings, dedications at Miyazaki Gardens, youth activities and a Gala Evening of dance and music representative of each Country.  SCAVB was privileged to have Moss, Norway’s ladies vocal group, VOCALIS, perform also.

SCAVB is very proud of this Award, the second time it has been received by Virginia Beach; the first being for the 40th Birthday Celebration.

SCAVB President, Ruth Fraser and Vice President Carolyn Garrett will receive the award on behalf of the Association at the SCI International Conference in San Jose, California.


North Down, Northern Ireland Student Delegation

North Down, Northern Ireland Student Delegation

Tallwood High School’s Global Studies Department, under the leadership of SCAVB Secretary/Treasurer, Rebecca Gurley sponsored both inbound and outbound exchanges across the world.  Most notably, with Virginia Beach’s Sister City of Moss, Norway where students attended the International Youth Peace Conference August 12-16, 2014 and helped celebrate the 200th Anniversary of Norway’s Constitution.   SCAVB helped defray travel expenses for the Moss, Norway trip by contributing $100 per student toward airfare.

Students also traveled to our Sister City in Northern Ireland, April 4-12, 2014 and then hosted a reciprocal visit in Virginia Beach in September. 

On March 17-31, 2014 they hosted students from our Friendship City of Olongapo, Philippines.  October 9-18 Tallwood students, accompanied by School Board member Leonard Tengco, will visit Olongapo where they will have the opportunity to absorb Philippine culture while touring, participating in a Model UN Simulation, official ceremonies and staying in the homes of local families


On July 25, 2012, a ribbon cutting was held at Red Wing Park to dedicate the Azumaya, patterned after a simple style house of eastern Japan.  It is a setting for contemplation, meditation and reflection.  Built in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of Sister Cityhood of Virginia Beach and Miyazaki City, Japan, the Azumaya was completed in March 2012.  

The Miyazaki Garden at Red Wing Park is a unique setting; which is open to the public year round.  The Azumaya anchors the rear entrance of the park and features flagstone flooring and walls made of parapet.  Dimensional lumber, bamboo, cedar shingles and roof sheating along with other materials complete the structure.

The dedication was enhanced by the presence of  The Honorable William D. Sessoms, Jr., Mayor and Chairmanof the Board Mrs. Ruth Hodges Fraser, President, Sister Cities Association of Virginia Beach, Mr. Tatsuya Ishida, President, Miyazaki Sister Cities and Dr. Hiroyuki Hamada, Chair, Japan Cultural Education Center.


SCAVB members participated in the 2011 Neptune Festival Parade. This effort, led by Kim Baylor, is a first for the Association and was a great way to let citizens and visitors know about Virginia Beach’s Sister City affiliations. A great time was reported by all the “floaters”. A special thanks to the members, friends and family who helped to decorate the float which was donated by the Neptune Festival.