Friday, December 2, 2016

Random Sights and Scenes from Travels

On the bus and plane windows, I often think of how lucky I am to have been given many opportunities to roam around the country and learn - see the country's beautiful and ugly sides, talk to people from their own lenses...and contemplate on how interesting life is. They say pictures speak a thousand words,so, here are Random snapshots from my Philippine travels:

Sasa Port, Davao City

Bacnotan, La Union

Tuba, Benguet

View from Mt. Cabuyao
Tabuk City, Kalinga
Vigan City, Ilocos Sur
Heroes Hills, Quezon City

Alaminos, Pangasinan

Espana, Manila
Bat Cave, Samal City
Siburan, Mindoro

Mt. Kalawitan, Mt. Province


Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Tourism Security and Safety Conference in Davao City

TOURISM SECURITY AND SAFETY CONFERENCE
SMX, Lanang, Davao City (August 23-25, 2016)
_______________________________________________________________
       TOPICS:

1.       Establishing Security and Emergency Response Department
2.      International Terrorism
3.      Landmark cases on Tourism Security
4.      Hotel and Travel: Inseparable with Tourism
5.      Linking HR and Security and Safety Risks
6.      Events: Security Preparedness
7.      Policies in Tourism Security
8.      National Tourism Situationer

Day 1: National Tourism Situationer and the Tourism Systems as a whole

“We look at our structures (including own buildings) as a tourism spot - airlines not as aviation centers but as an attraction…security guards as tourism officers” explained Mr. Sigfried Mison, the guest speaker of our convention. Mr. Mison further explained that; in a system where we have a government that do not understand tourism, and tourism people who do not understand the government, the marriage between their orientation and thinking is the only way to make sure that tourism will thrive.

 The tourism industry, which involves many aspects, contributes to ten per cent of the world’s Gross Domestic Product. In the Philippines, it is responsible for 8.2% of our GDP and it involves one out of eleven people in the entire country. It is a people’s business. As such, there is a need to protect the industry from external and internal factors; terrorism, criminality, under-investment on businesses’ security, health risks, and other threats.
“Speak well about our Country” encouraged Ambassador Marciano Paynor, who hinted that Filipinos are the first to speak against our tourism marketing and promotions. “When we speak bad things about our country, we most likely deprive economic opportunities for our people..” he explained.


Day 2: Tourism Security and Safety (Special Topic: Event’s Safety)

In the present National Tourism Situationer, the Philippines ranked 128th out of 141 countries as to tourism safety and security. The indicators include reliability of tourism services, peace and order, and the state of stability and well-being of the receiving community. This begs the question:"Is our home safe for visitors?". All speakers highlighted that even without marketing and promotions, "Safety sells in tourism". This means that visitors, in addition to feeling a sense of community, must also have a sense of comfort and safety. This, without a question, involves the effort of all. As exhibit "A". the conveners presented the Davao Public Safety Center set-up (including the 911 system), and other systems used by tourism stakeholders to promote a culture of safety for tourists. 

Insights:

In Tourism Security Operations, they classify the asset as either “natural attraction” or “man-made attraction”. Because “natural attractions” can easily be secured, the speaker focused on man-made attractions, which includes the ever popular “Special Events”.

Important definitions: 

  1. Situation • a condition or combination of conditions that exist at a particular time
  2. Security Situation • is a situation that is or may be potentially a security threat event or incident
  3. Security • the state of being free from danger or threat
  4. Incident • a security event or occurrence
  5. Emergency • a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action (potential for loss of life or great damage)
  6. Disaster • a sudden event, such as an accident or a natural catastrophe, that causes great damage or loss of life
 Special Events under “Events Tourism” includes Festivals, Parties, Conferences, Summits, Exhibitions, Fairs, Meetings, Games and Sports, Religious activities and other events which draws people. These involve high-level of operations since they come with many risks and threats. Although such events only last for a short duration, they nevertheless involve long and careful planning.

Special Events management must always ensure effective preparation. That is why organizers should always consider the following areas: Administration, Design, Marketing, Operations, and Risk management (ADMOR).


Events are planned disasters that is why there should be “Command Centers” to monitor the whole activity, and Security Plans. Events and Tourism Security all comes with a cost (for peace of mind). We should weigh public safety versus public sentiment. In the end, lives are more important than criticism.



The third Day of the Conference is a city tour where I got the impression that the best security multiplier is a town with a sense of community. People who look after their own neighborhood is an effective deterrent to criminality and other threats to tourism.


Daghang Salamat Davao!

(A week after the Security and Safety Conference, a terrorist bombing happened there days ago. It  was unbelievable in so many levels - like a foreshadowing of a future event. But that is what terrorists do, they strike the heart of the current efforts of security and safety. Let us be vigilant and unite against people who are bent on destroying our country and all the lives in it.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Monfort Bat Sanctuary and Hagimit Falls

If you are in Davao City and you have six hours to spare, go visit the Monfort Bat Sanctuary and Hagimit Falls while having a view of the island life. Just take a taxi to Sasa Port and ride a ferry (only P10.00 pesos) to the Island Garden City of Samal (IGACLOS). The distance is only 15 minutes from the Davao city main land. The boat trip is also scheduled in an almost every 30-minutes interval so you are assured that you can get back immediately to your hotel in a moment's notice (if you don't want to stay overnight in the island).

At the Samal Port, haggle with the tricycle drivers there for a good price. The city tour which includes the Monfort Bat Sanctuary, and Hagimit Falls usually takes about P 800 to P 1,200 transportation cost, depending on the arrangement. 

The Monfort Bat Sanctuary

Batman fans like me would like to see the "Bat Cave" of Samal which is a home to about 2.5 million fruit bats. The site is recognized by the Guiness book of world records as the largest single colony of its kind. 

Upon arrival, we could already hear the screeching sounds of the night creatures. There is a P 100.00 entrance fee which includes the services of the most friendly tour guides I've ever met. Here are some pictures of the place:

"Without bats...there will be no Durian.." stressed our kind tour guide. She lectured about the big role of bats in the balance of the ecosystem in the region, as well as its role as night pollinators and farmer's allies in controlling pests. The tour was enlightening. After the experience, you will see bats in a much different light. They are our friends.
Hagimit Falls

About thirty to forty five minutes ride from the sanctuary, the majestic Hagimit Falls is an oasis to the tired traveler. You just have to pay Forty-pesos for entrance fee, a One hundred fifty fee for a shed, and a Five-peso environmental Fee. The cool and fresh waters from the mountain springs? Priceless.



After dipping in the nice waters. Just tell manong pedicap driver to take you to the the best views in town before going to the sea port. Just have a feel of the island life.



Inhale all the experiences with gratitude, and proceed to the seaport back to your Davao City hotel..:) Salamat Kaayo Samal!

Related Article: Tourism Security and Safety Conference in Davao City

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Malaysia: Truly Asia

I’m writing my experience after a couple of months. There were (un)expected misfortunes which hauled me to some needless heartbreak – I just have to run away from it all. I am a firm believer that things happen either for or because of something. Such ribbing philosophy which is both hopeful and humiliating is naturally, human, I must accept. "That is life!", as people would say.

***
We landed at Kota Kinabalu International Airport at dawn, eager to flag a taxi to our hotel. Outside, I didn’t feel away from home, and  except for the Malay signages; the environment, the feel if you may, even the vegetation around is no different than Davao City, or even the nearby Ilocos towns. Hell, even the people there looks like us.

We checked-in at Likas hotel and proceeded to Likas Bay – a cove featuring a park that will put Manila bay to the depths of shame; it has health and wellness facilities, children’s park, and recreational areas, all open to the public. The city area reminded me of Singapore, though not as clean, but, because of its sound urban management, great zoning compliance, and decent housing, I can see it as an extension of Lakeside, SG.
 
Likas Bay at 6:00 in the morning 
***
The next day, we had a city tour starting from its famous bay KK City Waterfront which is even more energetic at night, and the the KK City Mosque and surrounding temples, the University of Malaysia (Sabah), Atkinson’s Tower and Signal Hill,  and the Sabah Museum which wrapped up the day for me.








Many of us (Igorots including) might not consider that we are not 'that' unique as a people...perhaps, until we learn about things we share with our neighbors. For example, the Malay word for "road" or "path" is called "jalan", similar to our "shalan" (ibaloi), or "dalan" (Ilocano), or "danan" (Kankana-ey)or "daan"(Filipino)...I can go on and on about the similarities of our language as Austronesian people, but maybe a little visual evidence may convince us (below): he is not from the Ifontoc tribe, he is actually from a head-hunting tribe in historical Malaysia. Karkarupan ikit tako inya? jeje. And the wooden plank they use to display/offer the hunted heads? They call it "atang".


The next day, we proceeded to Jesselton point to rent a boat to Manukan and Mamutik islands. A boat owner instantly recognized us as Filipinos and offered discounted prices for their water sports. At Mamutik island, we met Jessie, a water sport coordinator, who also introduced himself as a Filipino. I’m beginning to believe that 25% of the population in Sabah is composed of Filipinos (most from Mindanao who have escaped the decades of conflict) as claimed by a Filipino vendor at Gaya Street.


The Water sports are as good as those in our islands!




                    
Terimah Kasih KK, Malaysia!