A Review of the PhilMICECon 2011.
As MICE practitioner since 1984, and as pioneer MITE member I had been attending the MICE Conferences since PCVC-MITE inception of “Dream Meetings” in 1991. This time however, I had the honor to be part of the Philippine (Meetings, Incentive travel, Conventions, & Exhibitions) M.I.C.E. Conference (PhilMICECon) 2011 in Cebu, Philippines as invited Guest Speaker to share my advocacy on Sustainable Tourism, Hospitality & Events, during the Green-themed Plenary on the topic, “Stepping Forward without Footprints.”
From the pre-conference arrangements to arrival day after a direct flight from Tokyo to Cebu via the country’s flagship carrier Philippine Airlines and all throughout my stay, I was graciously attended by the ever-efficient and long-time Tourism industry friends, Ms. Noemi Cruz and Joma Gutierrez of the Philippine Tourism Bureau (PTB, which I still keep on calling PCVC) organizers of the Phil MICE Con. Right after my check-in at the Continental Club of Marco Polo Cebu, networking started with co-speakers, Bill Laviolett Managing Director, I&MI (Incentives & Meetings International) Media from France and Corbin Ball, Owner, Corbin Ball Associates, USA.
Our first day started with a Welcome Lunch for buyers and speakers at the Imperial Waterpark Resort in Mactan Island, greeted by the entire Cebu Organizing Committee, which prepared exotic Asian themed dances. Most heartwarming was the Cebu’s children’s rondalla which performed lively native numbers. After the scrumptious Cebu cuisine highlighted buffet, entertained by Philippine dances, off we go to probably the most “thrilling” show of all –the world famous Cebu Dancing Inmates – doing their Michael Jackson tributes. Turned out, we not only watched but also danced with them! The Cebu Provincial Detention & Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) opens its gates for performances every last Saturday of the month –a good example of social responsibility in tourism. At sundown, we moved to the Waterfront Hotel Cebu for the Oriental Opulence-themed cocktails and dinner. The ballroom was transformed into a grand and lavish Eastern enclave and participants were beset with the bountiful Chinese buffet.
The next day, the Techno-themed Opening ceremonies were graced by Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia, Philippine Tourism Department Secretary Alberto Lim and Hans Hauri, Chairman of the Phil MICE Con Cebu Organizing Committee. Glad to see that Bluewater Resorts, with Director of Sales & Marketing Margie Munsayac, hosted coffee break has followed some green meeting practices I suggested for the event, with their native snacks in eco-friendly, reusable baskets and drinks in bamboo cups!
We segued to Marco Polo Hotel Ballroom, for the “i.WE.u.peopleconnect” – Techno motiff S.R.O. lunch, welcomed virtually by the hotel’s CEO in Hong Kong via Video conference. Educational Tracks Breakout sessions followed with various MICE-relevant topics.
Finally, Green Day Plenary has come keynoted by Authentic Ecolodges author Hitesh Mehta who awed the audience with his “Turning Blueprints into Green prints” presentation and “dance” performance. Then it was our turn to talk on “Stepping Forward without Footprints”, where I shared in the discussions moderated by Ms. Chit Juan of Echo Sustainable Living Store, with Engr. Eric Raymundo, who presented the “Zero Carbon Resorts” project of his NGO, Gruppe Angge Passte Technologie (GrAT) and Ms. Agnes de Jesus, Vice President, Energy Development Corporation who imparted the Geothermal projects at Philippines’ eco sites.
After the coffee break, panel discussions on “New Media Marketing” and an energetic Hi-tech Connect-motif lunch was hosted by the Radisson Blu, Cebu’s newest de luxe hotel. Happy to meet long-ago hotelier friends, Lourdes Macalindong, VP Sales & Marketing of SM Hotels & Conventions and Agnes Pacis, dynamic Director of Sales & Marketing of Shangri-la Mactan.
After the afternoon and closing plenary session, an all-out pomp and pageantry Closing & Turn-over Ceremonies was tendered by Davao, the PhilMICE Con 2013 host, led by no less than their gutsy yet graceful Mayor Sara Duterte. So looking forward to helping out in the DAVAO Phil MICE Con, with long-time friend, Ms. Mary Ann Montemayor who is the Chair of the Davao Regional Tourism Council and has sounded me off that they are starting Sustainable Tourism activities for the province. Dazzling!
However, the big question for me during the whole conference as I was trying to observe is, IF the Philippine MICE industry insiders are ready to embrace Sustainability and Green practices in their respective activities? Phil MICE Con organizers led by dynamic Stanie Soriano has graciously included the “Greening Events Guidelines” that I have particularly prepared, on the printed program, but I doubt if anybody has read it. Not one participant even mentioned to me having seen it. Based on the almost non-reaction from the audience after our plenary “Green” presentations, it seems that “Greening” for them was just donning the green hats or outfits as was the obligatory theme for the day. Beyond that, no one has approached any of us speakers, as a matter of interest in implementing green hotel practices, zero carbon resorts nor green events at all.
At breakfast on our last day, with good tourism industry colleague, Angel Bognot who has launched his Afro Asian World Events, former Region VII Tourism Director Dawnie Roa, and Ms. Jenny Franco of Travel Vision, I have some encouraging signs that Cebu are into the Sustainable and Eco Tourism mode and that they are supporting greening efforts by the province. Likewise, I was also told earlier by long-time Cebu tour operator, Alice Queblatin of Southwind Travel that they are seeking help to improve their community-based rural tourism endeavors in Olango, Cebu. Alice’s daughter, Cookie Chan @kukitalk, likewise sent me a direct message via Twitter that she will implement green practices that I have shared in the next big convention she will be organizing next in Cebu. At least with these pro-active and reliable pillars of Cebu’s Tourism industry, I can see the “green” light at the end of the tunnel that came out of the Phil. MICE Con 2011.
This is a call to action and cooperation to GREEN Philippine M.I.C.E., folks. It is high time for Filipino tourism industry leaders to focus on Sustainable Tourism, greening their hotels/resorts and organize Green Meetings & Sustainable Events as a way forward and uplift the Philippine Tourism industry.
For details on the PhilMICE 2011 conference program, please click here.
Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific is working on Sustainable Festivals & green events with its Sustainable Tourism programs and projects in the Philippines – The Coron Initiative , The Boracay Initiative & The Negros Initiative . Environmental, Social, Good Governance & Resilience Capacity building programs & training include Disaster Preparedness & Management for both public and private local stakeholders/proponents. Sustainability Guru Asia Pacific is working towards green economy for the grass roots, in cooperation with Zero Carbon Resorts, Green Hotels and The Clean Blue Asia Pacific. For more info, visit our Society for Sustainable Tourism & Development Inc. website or contact SSTDI on how we can help.