A glittering affair with tourism personalities
EDISON JOSEPH GONZALES
The Manila Times
THE Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Philippines Chapter came up with a unique and attractive way to mark the Philippine tourism industry’s golden year through the “PATA Gala–A Fashion Show with a Heart.”The event gathered leading tourism personalities who presented a dazzling show that drew an overflow crowd. The successful fashion show allowed the association not only to celebrate its golden year but also raise to help restore and rebuild communities within the three neighboring towns of Laguna — Cavinti, Lumban, and Pagsanjan — where all roads lead to the famous three-drop Pagsanjan Falls. Clad in elegant and intricately woven Filipiniana and Barong Tagalog, Department of Tourism Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco and her husband, Deputy House Speaker Duke Frasco, walked the finale of the show, wearing the creation of world-renowned veteran fashion designer Renee Salud. The tourism chief was likewise joined by esteemed tourism stakeholders and veteran players in the travel and hospitality sector, including PATA International’s former Chief Executive Officer Liz Ortiguera, Tourism Congress of the Philippines President Bob Zozobrado, and Philippine Airlines President and COO Captain Stanley Ng. DoT Undersecretary for Tourism Regulation Coordination and Resource Generation Shalimar Hofer Tamano was also dashing in Wear Your Culture’s modern take on the Filipino Barong, as well as DoT’s marketing arm, Tourism Promotions Board Chief Operating Officer Marga Nograles and her husband, Civil Service Commission Chairperson Karlo Nograles, who both showcased the creation of Cebu’s fashion designer Philip Rodriguez. Also parading down the ramp were Hotel 101 Global Group General Manager Geraldine Gomez, Megaworld Hotels and Resorts Managing Director Cleofe Albiso, Davao Tourism Association Vice President Nicole Ledesma, Conrad Manila Commercial Director* Joanne Gomez, Bluewater Resorts Vice President for Sales and Marketing Margie Munsayac, PATA Philippines Chapter Chair Pat Alberto, Philippine Airlines Vice President for Marketing Ria Domingo, Chroma Hospitality Group Vice President for Sales and Marketing Carmela Bocanegra, and Okada Manila Vice President for Sales and Marketing Cielo Reboredo. The debonaire gentlemen who also strutted the ramp were Philippine Airlines Manager Brian Solis, Air Asia Financial Officer Ray Berja, Philippine Airlines Vice President for Sales Bud Britanico, Hotel 101 Global Senior Sales Manager Philip Olimpiada, and Air Asia Spokesperson Steve Dailisan. In her speech, PATA Philippines Chairwoman Maria Paz Alberto delivered the good news that for the first time, all three local chief executives of Cavinti, Lumban, and Pagsanjan in Laguna agreed to work together to reboot Pagsanjan Falls as a tourism destination as well as help its tourism community. With its proximity to Metro Manila, she said Pagsanjan has also been identified as a tourist magnet, particularly for the South Korean foreign market, which is currently the top source of international arrivals for the Philippines. “Why did we choose Pagsanjan?” Paz posed the interesting question before the 400 gala attendees, mainly from the hospitality and aviation industries. “We wanted to help the boatmen and their families who have suffered tremendously because if we don’t have tourism, no one will go to Pagsanjan Falls.” Directly addressing the audience, she continued, “This is an opportunity for us to work together with you to support not just the lives of the boatmen and their families in her family but make it a green and sustainable community,” she explained. In response, Frasco manifested her agency’s support for the worthy cause initiated by PATA. “The DoT will not only ensure that Pagsanjan will recover but also restore its former glory as one of our key destinations in the country,” the secretary said. Frasco also delighted the organizers from the private sector when she and her husband pledged P200,000 from their personal funds to support PATA’s advocacy on tourism education. The secretary also shared that this is how their initiative in Liloan town, Cebu started in 2008, which now has close to 16,000 scholars across the fifth district. Frasco then emphasized how instrumental PATA has been in championing Philippine tourism to the world for decades. “PATA Philippines was founded just a few years after the founding of the DoT. And since then, PATA in the Philippines has been instrumental not only in bringing attention to the Philippines and, most importantly, in championing Philippine tourism worldwide,” she added. For his part, Manila Hotel President and lawyer Joey Lina, who welcomed guests at the iconic property, also commended the efforts of the DoT for leading the industry away from the ill effects of the pandemic. “The first four months of 2023 are better than the entire 2019; that is based on our observation and based on our actual record here at the Manila Hotel,” he explained, noting a tourism rebound for Manila Hotel in particular. “So, that’s good news for everyone. And we hope and pray that the trend will continue and that 2023 will be a banner year for Philippine tourism. The projection is that the total economy of the country will rebound by 2024, and we are still in 2023, but just in the first four months, we can already see a rebound of the Philippine economy,” he emphasized. “We are very happy with what’s happening with tourism in the country with Secretary Frasco at the helm of DoT,” the pillar for the private sector added. Founded in 1951, PATA is a notfor-profit association internationally acclaimed for acting as a catalyst for the responsible development of travel and tourism to, from, and within the Asia Pacific region.