“One vision, one identity, one community.”
—The ASEAN Motto
The ASEAN Plus Three Youth Tourism Summit
The ASSOCIATION of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)—consisted of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam—was constituted on August 8, 1967 with aims “to accelerate economic growth, social progress, and cultural development…through joint endeavors and to promote peace and stability” throughout the southeast Asian regions.
On the twelfth assembly of ASEAN, China, Japan, and Republic of Korea (ROK) tourism ministers held in Vientiane, Lao PDR, last January 2013, the ASEAN Plus Three Tourism Cooperation Work Plan 2013–2017 had been outlined, and Philippines and Thailand were chosen as lead coordinators for this grand undertaking.
The Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT)—following the success of its previous summit hosting last September 28 to October 3, 2015, held in Cebu and Bohol—had invited three youth delegates from each ASEAN nation, an ASEAN secretariat and a marketing coordinator, and sixteen delegates from different regions of the Philippines for the fourth ASEAN Plus Three Youth Tourism, themed “Scenes. Senses. ASEAN Spirit.”
The “ASEAN Spirit” in Siquijor and Dumaguete City (June 19 to 25)
Upon arriving in Sibulan-Dumaguete Airport, the delegates were greeted by the DOT and the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) of Negros Oriental with the “warm, natural smiles and unmatched hospitality” Filipinos were known for and were then escorted to Coco Grove Beach Resort in Siquijor, where a barrio-fiesta welcome dinner, orientation, and a set of local cultural presentations prepared by the Siquijor tourism office awaited them.
The delegates were delighted with the series of workshops, lectures, and forums on the tourism industry, ecological conservation, and cultural appreciation the DOT facilitated the following day. This was then amplified and put into focus by an island tour wherein the delegates were brought to ASEAN homestay awardees and local attractions such as the San Isidro Labrador Church and Convent, Cambuhagay Falls, the fish spa at the “enchanted” century-old balete tree, and to where they could buy the rumored, mysterious amulets, or “anting-anting,” and love potions, or “lumay.”
And in Dumaguete City, the delegates had their race-style tour where they “really felt the warm touch of the Filipino community” on a dry and lovely morning. The delegates had to search for the Bay Walk, Campanario de Dumaguete, Silliman University (to ask students to teach them local songs and crafts), and the city’s delicacies (e.g. Sylvanas). After which, they had their afternoon symposium about the ASEAN Tourism Development Plan, at Bethel Guest House, which was also attended by local tourism and hospitality students.
Not long after checking in to Bahura Resort and Spa, the delegates were brought back to the iconic bay walk where the majestic and magical “Flavors of Dumaguete” program and presentation was going to be held that evening. The following morning, the delegates were brought to Tañon Strait for dolphin watching and to the Manjuyod Sandbar for lunch.
“Pinoy-Style” Team-Building Activities
Proudly representing Cebu Teambuilding Facilitators’ Network (CTFN), Lorenzo Jose Cahig and Nicolo Nasol employed Pinoy games as team-building activities, such as “Bahaw-Bahaw,” “Slipper Game,”and “Patintero”; this set was paired with teaching the delegates folk songs and children’s rhymes like “Leron-Leron Sinta,” “Tatlong Bebe,” “Bahay Kubo, “Sampung Palaka” and having them choreograph and perform their own interpretative dance of the song.
The debriefing of each activity was followed by discussing Filipino values (e.g. Bayanihan) and relating them with the cultures of the other ASEAN nations. The Pinoy games proved to be impactful learning experiences as the delegates were affected not just physically and mentally but emotionally as well, and they even realized the striking resemblances of each other’s cultures, thus sensing a newly found camaraderie and belongingness.
During “the carousel,” the climactic activity of the team building, held at the viewing dock of the Balinsasayao and Danao Twin Lakes, the delegates felt how close they were bonded by the Pinoy games and the summit itself and were in tears throughout the activity.
The “intended major output” of the summit is the Youth’s Declaration of Commitments that “highlights their vision” for the tourism youth. This was held in Bahura Resort and Spa, which was preceded by the awarding and cultural presentations of each country’s delegates, performed wearing their national costumes.
(Published on Sun.Star Weekend Cebu: July 28, 2016; All photos by CHADA photography)