THE Philippine Pavilion pavilion was designed by Budji Layug and Royal Pineda. — PHOTO FROM EXPO2020DUBAI.COM

HSMA launches 8th Virtus Award

SAYING that it is “time to snap out of the shackles of the ‘safe only’ discipline of the past years,” the Hotel Sales and Marketing Association (HSMA) is launching the 8th edition of its Virtus Awards, which honors outstanding sales and marketing professionals and institutions in the hotel industry.

Launched on April 28 at the Kingsford Hotel, nominations have been made open for candidates. The awards, slated for October of this year, will be the first to be held live after two years of the pandemic.

“It’s time to snap out of the shackles of the ‘safe only’ discipline of the past years and focus on better, livelier options that hotels and resorts can offer to families, gatherings for leisure and business,” Rose Libongco, Virtus Awards Chair, said. “HSMA will release the tension and tedious controls to serve new schemes, delights in pursuing fun, fantasy and new hopes to allow us to dream again,” she said.

The awards will honor the best Sales and Marketing Associate, Sales and Marketing Manager, and Sales and Marketing Leader. Meanwhile, the Institutional Award for Marketing Campaign looks for the best marketing campaign for the industry, taking into consideration the Campaign theme, objectives and content; implementation, results and returns on investment; and presentation.

In a speech during the event, Ms. Libongco said, “Walang kasing-sarap na makasama kayong muli. Hindi biro ang ating pinagdaanan ng mahigit na dalawang taon. (There is no greater pleasure than to see you all again. What we have gone through for the past two years has been no joke). We fought for health, life, and businesses and settled difficulties and differences and, yes, losses, with tenacity, resolve, poise and hope.

“Here is a turning point that is presented. We cannot afford not to take this chance to separate from the past, change the course and leap towards better and brighter,” she said.

A highlight of the launch was the keynote speech of Assistant Secretary and concurrent OIC Undersecretary for Trade Promotions of the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry Rosvi Gaetos, who had just come back from Expo 2020 hosted by Dubai. Over 190 countries participated in the World Expo, including the Philippines. The event was held over six months, from Oct. 2021 to the end of March 2022.

The “constant, incessant movement of Filipinos all over the world up to this day” became the inspiration behind the Philippines’ presentation at the Expo, said Ms. Gaetos in a speech.

The Philippine Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai was named Bangkota (coral reef in Ancient Filipino). Explaining the theme, she said, “Like a coral reef where a single polyp can travel oceans, attach itself to other polyps, then grow into bigger corals; Filipinos travel and migrate, build vibrant communities anywhere they go, bringing with them their skills and talents, and contributing tremendously to the economies of countries where they settle.

“We had the biggest pavilion in the history of our participation in world expos, [and] it was the very first time that we had a self-built pavilion of such scope and magnitude where we had to built from desert, ground-up,” she said.

The pavilion was designed by Budji Layug+Royal Pineda, and measured 1,386 sqm. on a 3,163.25 sqm. lot.

“The Filipino community in the host country fully mobilized in the true spirit of bayanihan (mutual support in a community) to support the Philippine pavilion and drive up our final number to 1.4 million visitors at closing,” she reported. — J.L. Garcia