Meet You In Iloilo

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As the private sector and the government through the active coordination of the Department of Tourism (DOT-6) gears towards making Iloilo City as the next Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Events (MICE) destination in the country and perhaps in South East Asia, several personalities and sectors are now making themselves visible and busy crying the same: “We need to act as one and make Iloilo great again!”

Such spirit. Is it enough? Iloilo City’s feat as a booming business center is undeniable if we are to make as basis the high rise buildings, first class hotels and mushrooming malls. Other than Dinagyang which is now under a new set of old mammals, the city is home to the longest river Esplanade in the country that spans eight kilometers.

Now Iloilo City is lucky to have a senator who has survived Cory, Fidel, Joseph, Gloria, Noynoy and now Digong in the person of Franklin Drilon. His penchant for bridges has interconnected the city to areas that are frequented by at least three percent of the motorists. Senator Drilon has a vision and it gave birth to the construction of the multi-million peso Iloilo Convention Center or ICON. Maybe the continuous non-utilization of it for its purpose after the management was turned over to Alfonso Tan, the famous contractor and friend of Drilon, pissed the good senator and so he turned the brunt to Atty. Helen Catalbas of the DOT-6 for not doing much in furthering the cause of MICE.

Drilon has a valid point actually. ICON is not being used and instead several private establishments are hosting numerous big events. There is one problem though. The dream project of Drilon is not accredited by DOT which is being mandated by law. It’s interesting that ICON cannot comply the requirements for accreditation while small businesses are accredited. Good thing, Catalbas, a real Duterte appointee stood her ground and gave justice to the small players who willingly complied and was not intimidated by the big ones who did nothing but hide behind the bellies of the politicians they are supporting.

So goes the rant of Drilon that resulted to several DOT undersecretaries frequenting the city just to managed the MICE endeavor of the city.

Meet You in Iloilo then. However, how inclusive is this endeavor?

The Departments of Trade and Industry, Science and Technology and especially Agriculture should come into the picture not as mere support groups but as major players alongside DOT.

In case of the influx of arrivals for major meetings, events, exhibitions and conventions in Iloilo, is Western Visayas ready to feed them with the local produce or the establishments would still depend on the products coming from Luzon and Mindanao? 

Is Iloilo ready to sell local peanuts in value-added packaging or the usual peanuts in small plastic packs at P10 each?

Are there enough novelty shops selling locally produced products from local craftsmen supported by the Trade Department or the visitors will be bombarded with plastic paintings coming from China?

Lastly, what will be the contribution of Iloilo City Government whose understanding of tourism budget is limited to spending only for Dinagyang and will only shell out more than P5 thousand as support to other tourism endeavors?

Meet You In Iloilo. Yeah, great things start from small beginnings. Let’s start with a dream here.



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