Espina: 2013: its bright and low moments

I WITNESSED the initiatives of the Cebu’s private sector during the good and bad times in 2013. And we all survived, and still moving on.

1. Jay Aldeguer’s call, then follow-up by Wilson Ng for Bangon Sugbohol had a multiplier effect and brought the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mandaue Chamber, Province and City of Cebu, the media, church, academe, non-government organizations, Zonta Clubs, Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association, and other groups like American Chamber of Commerce (members like Timex, East Asia Utilities, Dedon, Lexmark, etc.) on their feet to distribute relief goods to fallen victims.

2. The Mega Cebu led by Dondi Joseph of the Cebu Business Club in cooperation with other business entities had long structured a multi-sectoral system to initiate partnerships for a long-term program in power, infrastructures, business and investments and tourism for Cebu.

3.The Cebu media garnered valuable awards in recognition of the integrity, dedication and expertise of local journalists, both in national and international levels.

4.The Ayala and Cebu Holdings launched expansion programs with over 200 stores, four levels connected to existing building, adding 36,500 meters of gross leasable area; merchandise mix of foreign and local, high and mid-priced. Soon, its corporate center and Amara chapel will get wider patronage to cater to growing BPO-IT industry.

At the same time, many real estate entities, malls and department stores (SM CITY expanding at SRP; E-Mall; JY Square; Robinsons; Metro Gaisano, Whitegold Club and Gaisano supermall chains) contributed to the economic pace of Cebu; Aboitiz sustained and even enriched its programs in youth leadership and education, and environment and entrepreneurship. Cebu IT Park flourished with new ICT and BPO outlets as well as the Walk Food Hub. Salinas Drive maintained its sustainability as all around Food Street.

5. During the first quarter of the year, tourism arrivals significantly increased. Food tourism was a big contributor. Thus restaurants and hotels renovated their structures and incentivized their offerings to cope with increasing demands. In the 2013 Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industy Inc. (CCCI) Cebu Business Month (CBM) Tourism Congress chaired by Hans Hauri, Lita Urbina and Edwin Ortiz, stakeholders from Cebu, Manila, Singapore, Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Canada, USA, among others, tackled the issues of branding Cebu and upgrade its services, like power, infrastructures and landmarks. Tourism-related ventures like medical/retirement; sports; education and environment; entrepreneurship and investment promotions were considered productive in enriching tourism. Resolutions were drafted and will be submitted to appropriate agencies.

As the CCCI Tourism chair, I believe these sustained interest in tourism growth had encouraged investors and tourists. The 2013 CBM chaired by Melanie Ng re-strengthened new vistas for trade and investments.

6. Cebu was the venue of many international and national conventions, noteworthy of which was the Confederation of Asia-Pacific Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, among others.

7. Creative small business entrepreneurship gained support from the public and private sectors and local products had bigger channels for selling.

8. Senior citizens received more attention and benefits.

9. The Fun Run became one of the more popular health-related fund raising projects and most sustainable were those led by the team of Dr. Yong Larrazabal.

10. Advocacy programs, specifically those promoting gender equality and curtailing domestic violence against the youth and women, drugs, bullying, street crimes and hazing, were dealt with accordingly. The ZONTA 1 won an international awards for advocacy.

11. Fashion, local entertainment/artists and theater expanded their mileage.

Noteworthy were the awards garnered by the Cebu Dancesports; the University of the Visayas; University of Cebu and the Mandaue Children’s Choir (now the Mandaue Children and Youth Chorus).

12. Colon is the oldest street in the Philippines. Many efforts were initiated to restore its vestiges, but taking off was difficult. It was good to see how the Colonade had started refurbishing its structures to make the place more spacious and comfortable for movies (Oriente Theater has started to modernize its facilities) and shopping. We hope for more efforts to clean-up and restore Colon.

I am sure others may have seen more milestones, but my observations were based on my readings and involvements. The natural calamities that hit Cebu upset many of the development thrusts of the past years, 2013, to be specific, but we hope 2014 will see brighter days for recovery. Happy New Year to all! (To be continued)
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