2:54 am | Friday, May 31st, 2013
MANILA, Philippines—It will be a yearlong showcase of everything Filipino.
The Philippines has begun preparations for hosting the annual Asia-
Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum and related meetings in 2015, the second time the country will be hosting this important global forum that is expected to gather world leaders, top business executives and thousands of other participants.
“It’s going to be a one-year celebration,” Laura del Rosario, undersecretary for international economic relations at the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), told a press conference Tuesday on the Apec 2015 preparations.
“When people come, we want to make sure they not only get a lot of work done but they enjoy themselves here. It’s really a lot of fun in the Philippines, they know that,” said Guillermo Luz, co-chair of the National Competitiveness Council (NCC), who is also involved in organizing what could be the country’s biggest hosting of an international event this decade.
Key cities around the country will be hosting 21 Apec meetings—senior officials’ meetings and ministerial meetings, among them—throughout 2015, culminating in the Apec Leaders’ Summit around October or November, Del Rosario said.
The Philippines hosted the 1996 Apec summit in Subic, Zambales province.
With each meeting expected to draw between 500 and over 1,000 participants, the event could bring in 13,000 to more than 20,000 participants from Apec’s 21 Pacific Rim member-nations—and the organizers are bent on making the visit memorable for each one.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to showcase your culture, your art, your creativity, your heritage. It’s not just about coming in, staying in a nice hotel but having a great experience. Tasting the cuisine, looking at the art, listening to the music. So that’s part of it,” said Luz.
“Every Apec host country does a good job at projecting their culture, and that’s what we’re working on,” said Luz, who has attended several Apec summits and meetings around the world.
The Apec 2015 national organizing council (NOC) is currently selecting venues for the meetings, shortlisting the country’s cities that are not the usual choices for conference sites.
“Most people think that for international meetings, you go to Manila, Cebu. We’re thinking Clark, we’re thinking Subic, we’re thinking Tagaytay, we’re thinking Iloilo, not a big site for meetings, Bacolod, Davao, Boracay,” said Luz.
For two days this week, local government units hoping to put themselves on the Apec map—Boracay, Clark Field in Pampanga, Subic Bay in Zambales, Tagaytay and the cities of Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, Iloilo and Legazpi—pitched their localities’ virtues to the NOC.
While it is expected to announce its chosen sites for the senior officials’ and ministerial meetings by June, the NOC has yet to give a definite date as to when the summit venue may be known, citing security reasons.
“The real benefit [is] you’re going to get noticed. You’re going to get put on the map. You notice we’re picking cities that are not normally selected for meetings,” said Luz.
Organizers are evaluating the sites based on available facilities and infrastructure, including back-up sites, the stability of power and water services, cleanliness, peace and order, disaster preparedness plans, medical services, tourist services and the strength of the local government’s links with the national government and the private sector.
Another key criterion is the locality’s plans for carrying out its Apec programs well beyond the summit, particularly when it comes to infrastructure. As Luz explained, government is looking to invest in infrastructure for the chosen 2015 Apec sites not only for the event itself but as part of the country’s long-term planning.
“We want to permanently build infrastructure in a place and the benefit is not the meeting, the benefit is beyond the meeting, because you build a place that is good for business and good for repeat visitors, rather than for one-time tourists,” said Luz.
Part of this infrastructure network is good roads, airports, telecommunications networks and private facilities, including hotels and restaurants.
Luz said the NOC has given the travel industry a heads-up so it can pursue its own upgrading program in preparation for 2015.
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