Feature: People behind the scenes that make UNWTO ASEAN Summit a success

LEGAZPI CITY, May 26 (PIA) – They made the recent United Nations World Tourism

Organization (UNWTO) and Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) International Conference on Tourism and Climate Change a success but they did not make it to the headlines.

At least 250 and probably more manpower served as the summit’s protocol officers, ushers/usherettes, tour guides, drivers, chorale members, dancers, members of the secretariat, emergency response and medical teams and media center staff who worked day and night prior, during and even after the weeklong international event that commenced on May 15 and ended on May 20 that happened for the first time in Albay and in the entire Bicol Region.

Roxanne Joy Jesalva, a 21 year-old business administration student of Bicol University, is one of them who served as usherette .

“I was assigned at the Legazpi City Airport to welcome and guide guests,” Jesalva said.

Jesalva belongs to the Albay Pageant Academy, a local institution that trains future beauty titlists supported by Albay Governor Joey Salceda. She is a local beauty queen who won many titles such as Miss Sosogon 2010 (Sorsogon City’s festival), Mutya ng Magayon 2011 (Albay’s festival), Miss Bicolandia 2011(Peñafrancia Festival), and Mutya ng Ibalong 1st Runner Up 2013 (Legazpi City’s festival).

“Being part of the academy and a title holder, I was among the 20 ladies and 10 gentlemen handpicked for the event,” Jesalva revealed.

Ashley Himor is a member of the Bicol University (BU) and Albay Magayon Dancers of the provincial government Albay who entertained guests with different genres of dances upon their arrival and during parties of the weeklong event.

Prior to the UNWTO ASEAN preparations, the group was already on their toes the previous month with the month-long celebration of Albay’s Magayon Festival in April this year.

Greg Naz meanwhile was behind the wheel transporting representatives from different media organizations.

“I belong to a transport service company accredited and tapped by the Department of Tourism (DOT) to provide vehicles and drivers for the event,” Naz said.

Jesalva, Himor and Naz all affirmed that the trainings conducted by the DOT prior to the international event boost their confidence in dealing both international visitors and VIPs.

In accomplishing her tasks, Jesalva followed this simple mantra: Be patient, act professionally at all times and smile always.

Himor also learned that being hospitable, warm and kind is necessary for her task as dancer.

“Having all these I believe we could attract more tourist come and visit Bicol most especially Albay. The character of every people here is the best thing that we can be proud of,” Himor added.

“I have met different people with different personalities and culture and I need a lot of patience and flexibility in dealing with them,” Naz said.

Being part of the ground staff had some perks though, and “my most memorable experience was when I saw President Aquino face to face, not everybody is given the opportunity to see the President in person,” Jesalva smiled.

Himor candidly admitted that she really enjoyed all the activities of the UNWTO, “but the most memorable for me was the Retro Party when I played the role of Marilyn Monroe who was a very popular international movie icon.”

“I had the chance to meet media personalities that I only listen on radio and see on TV,” Naz revealed.

Bob Gigantone, DOT project coordinator for UNWTO ASEAN events revealed that DOT lined up trainings that they required for the working groups such as effective customers service, tour guiding techniques, food and beverage training, social graces, protocol Training and personality development, among others.

“We invited experts on the specified areas among them Ambassador Fortunato Oblena for Social Graces and Protocol,” Gigantone said.

Gigantone admitted that the selection process of personnel for different groups was tedious and meticulous, wherein a selection committee from the provincial government and DOT was formed to scout people based on international standards required and specified by the UNWTO-ASEAN organizers.

In a letter sent by UNWTO Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific Director Xu Jing to DOT Assistant Secretary Rolando Cañizal a month prior to the event, he specified the requirements for reception of participants, transportation, ground arrangements for registrations, invitations, recording of proceedings of the meeting, venue arrangements, ushering and a lot more.

“It is therefore essential that the staff deployed should be enthusiastic, motivated, responsible, patient and responsive to the participants’ needs,” Xu wrote Cañizal.

Gigantone meanwhile said thae greatest challenges that he encountered were during the lobbying for approval of plans, converging and synchronizing specific tasks, and responsibilities of the Joint Inter-Agency Task Force (JIATF) which was created by Governor Salceda through Executive Order No. 6 last March 14 to manage and supervise all tasks and activities related to the hosting of the said conferences and meetings.

“We did some trouble shooting outside the master plan, when some unexpected events happened,” Gigantone admitted.

Gigantone was thankful for the persons he encountered especially those who gave him encouragement to fulfill his tasks.

“They kept me going, reminded me to be strong and never be afraid to start over and rebuild things or do better the way people want it to be,” he said.

“I salute DOT Bicol regional director Maria Ravanilla for her strong leadership and management style and for giving me the opportunity to handle this event, and most especially to the competent leadership of Governor Salceda” Gigantone added.

Ravanilla expressed her gratitude to the provincial government of Albay, the member committees of the JIATF, and all those who provided their support for the success of the UNWTO ASEAN international meetings and conferences.

“This will not be successful without your support and help. We look forward for our unending support for one another in our future endeavors,” Ravanilla said in an official statement.

Salceda also confirmed through the social media that the UNWTO ASEAN top officials and delegates especially Xu were so impressed with Albay’s hosting and staging of the weeklong event.

For the meantime, Governor Salceda and the province of Albay are looking forward to its next international hosting, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference in 2015. (MAL/JJP-PIA5)
– See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/index.php?article=2591401092795#sthash.TNcNayvd.dpuf

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