The joys (and worthwhile stress) of Apec hosting
HOSTING a simple gathering for friends and family, planning a wedding, or organizing a birthday party are not only time-consuming, but highly stressful as well.
Having said this, imagine how taxing it is to host a year-round of events attended by VIPs from all over the world.
This was the great challenge the Philippines gladly accepted when it gave its nod to hosting several meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec).
A group of 21 economies surrounding the Pacific, Apec gathers in various meetings heads of states, Cabinet secretaries, other ranking government officials, business leaders, members of the academe, and advocates from nongovernment organizations to talk about pressing economic and social issues.
To say the events were successful, every aspect of the logistical and substantive aspects should be seamless.
And because Filipinos are naturally conscious of providing only the best for their guests, every small detail of the hosting should be properly planned.
“Preparations for each of the Apec meetings involved careful planning of all the requirements of the hosting, as well as coordination meetings that would run until late in the evening or even early hours
of the next day,” said Finance Assistant Secretary Maria Edita Tan. She was the go-to person in all the Department of Finance-organized Apec meetings this year.
On the logistical side, the registration process, security, transportation to and from meeting venues, accommodations, giveaways, food selection, programs for reception dinners and entertainment are just some of the top-of-mind considerations to make the visit of hundreds of delegates comfortable and memorable.
On the substantive side, the conference’s agenda should be understood and, if possible, embraced not only by the event attendees but also by citizens of Apec member economies.
Like other government agencies hosting their own sectoral events for Apec, the DOF, which is in charge of organizing the finance-related meetings of the international organization, believes that the joys of hosting far outweigh the enormous stress involved in the job.
Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima said the hard work required in hosting meetings for a huge organization like Apec was worthwhile, citing the great opportunity to promote the country’s economy, culture, tourism destinations, and its people.
“The advantage of hosting events like this is that we expose the country not only to our colleagues and their team, but also to the entire world, particularly through the members of the media who cover the events,” Finance Secretary
Cesar Purisima said during the closing press conference for the Apec Finance Ministers’ Meeting and Related Meetings. The events were held in Mactan, Cebu, from Sept. 9-11.
DOF-organized Apec meetings and workshops were held in five other locations: Clark, Pampanga, in January; Tagaytay City in March; Bacolod City in April; Bagac, Bataan, in June; and Iloilo City in July.
The meetings and workshops were dedicated to putting meat into the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), a development roadmap for the Asia-Pacific region drafted by the Philippines with inputs from other member economies and stakeholders.
Tourism promotion naturally comes alongside hosting international events.
“Let us bring Apec to the different parts of the country and promote the wonderful places outside Metro Manila,” Purisima said in one of the coordination meetings this year.
He said promoting areas outside Manila was a key consideration in hosting Apec.
Through the DOF-organized meetings alone, local and foreign delegates got to marvel over the wonder that is Taal Volcano, the charm of Bacolod, the picturesque sites and rich history of Bataan, and the combination of countryside beauty and economic progress of Iloilo and Cebu.
At the end of all the formal meetings, delegates were treated to sightseeing tours.
Apec meetings organized by other government agencies were likewise scattered all over the country, with the goal of tourism promotion in mind.
Besides promoting tourism, Apec hosting also provides the chance for local governments to promote investment opportunities. One of the goals was to spread economic growth toward the countryside and making it less concentrated in Metro Manila.
Host cities and provinces did not lack the chance to entice businesses.
For instance, the government of Bataan hosted a reception dinner to be able to show an audiovisual presentation of business opportunities in the province.
During the DOF-organized Apec event in Cebu, a “Spouses’ Program” was put up to showcase what Cebu had to offer to potential investors. Spouses of finance ministers and heads of delegations from member economies visited various exhibits featuring Cebu products.
Taking advantage of the limelight, host cities and provinces also talked to the media about business opportunities.
Contribution to regional development
In the case of the Philippines, another important benefit of hosting Apec was the chance to significantly contribute to regional efforts in promoting inclusive economic growth.
Through the Cebu Action Plan (CAP), launched on Sept. 11 in Mactan, Cebu, the Philippines has provided a nonbinding roadmap that will guide policy directions of economies over the medium to long term.
The CAP has four key development pillars: financial integration, fiscal reforms and transparency, financial resilience, and infrastructure development and financing.
“It is our hope that the [CAP] will be referred to again and again [in Apec meetings of succeeding years] in a similar way to how the trade ministers continually referred to the Bogor Goals of 1994 (a trade-related roadmap adopted during the hosting of Indonesia) in order to gauge progress,” Purisima said.
Happy about the opportunities the Apec brought, the Philippines will not get tired of hosting more international events in the future.
The Apec was not the first international organization that the Philippines hosted. The country hosted the annual meetings of the Asian Development Bank in 2012 and the conferences of the World Economic Forum in 2014.
The Philippines will again host another big international event—the meetings for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
“We are scheduled to host and chair Asean in 2017, and there are other events being planned,” Purisima said.
The officers and staff of the DOF are of the consensus that the hosting of the Apec meetings was truly worthwhile—the warm smiles and expressions of gratitude by the guests served as meaningful pats on their backs.
Despite the huge amount of time and energy put into the finance-related meetings, they all agreed that welcoming guests from the different parts of the globe and showcasing the best of the Philippines were priceless.
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