Despite the power outage and the slight drizzle, Meet Manila’s launch party entitled “A Tertulia Night” held last May 23 in Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant was a success and definitely something that I was glad to attend.
What is Meet Manila? From their website:
It is a non-profit informational site whose core focus is to promote Philippine tourism through social media, encouraging the creativity of the Filipinos in sharing Filipino culture and Philippine tourism expressed through blogs, photos, tweets, and Facebook posts.
Meet Manila aims to cultivate online community participation and interaction through shared content, in promotion of Philippine tourism. Serving as a response to the surge of travel interest by social media users, the portal will provide a centralized portal featuring the best of Philippine travel through aggregated user reviews. In effect, this will propagate a culture of thoughtful and responsible tourism that encourages pure appreciation of the Philippines’ authenticity in culture and natural resources.
“A Tertulia Night” served to officially launch Meet Manila and to introduce their Heroes for #ThoughtfulTourism.
I arrived slightly late due to wanting to finish my latest book review before leaving the house. When I got to Adarna, I found out that there was no power because of a blown transformer just outside the restaurant. Dinner would be by candlelight instead. The blackout wasn’t so bad once I spotted Tita Susan Arcega (who was there as Lito Perez’ publicist) and she invited me to sit at their table. Within the 15 minutes, I’d gotten acquainted with Eric from Boracay Mandarin, Nix and Nikki from Save Philippine Seas, and food blogger Apple.
The event kicked off with dinner by Chef Giney Villar of Adarna Food and Culture, a restaurant specializing in Filipino cuisine. We were treated to caldereta, adobo, and chicken relyeno. I couldn’t see how pretty the food looked because of the dim light but it sure was delicious.
Once our bellies were full and we’d made new friends with out table-mates, a bugtungan (riddle game) emceed by Vince of Mellow 94.7 and Ysobel of Meet Manila served to break the remaining ice. Tita Susan answered one and was recruited to read another. Unfortunately, I’ve never been good with riddle games so I just watched and cheered from the sidelines.
After the bugtungan came the short introduction to Meet Manila and the featured speaker, Ivan Henares. He spoke on preserving heritage houses. I had to move closer to the staging area to hear him but I didn’t mind. He focused on the troubles facing historical houses around the country – neglect, vandalism, and demolition – and what we can do to preserve them. After all, people come from all over to visit Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral and Thailand’s temples. Aside from preserving our cultural heritage, our historical houses could become another draw for both domestic and international tourists. Case study for success: Vigan.
After Mr. Henares were the talks from the Heroes for #ThoughtfulTourism. They are:
- Carlos Celdran of Walk This Way
- Chairell Winston Almendras of Batang Yagit
- Loren Legarda of Luntiang Pilipinas
- Melissa and Francesa Villa-Mateo of Project Pearls
- Jay Jaboneta of Yellow Boats Foundation
- Antonio Ingles of Aral Pinoy
- Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas
- Niccolo Cosme of Project Headshot Philippines
- Elizabeth Angsioco of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines
- Jayvee Fernandez for Diving in the Philippines
- Lynn Pinugu of Mano Amiga Pilipinas
- Froilan Grate of Mother Earth Foundation
- Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte
- Lito Perez for Filipino Heritage and Fashion
While they all deserved their moment in the spotlight for their contributions to Thoughtful Tourism, my own personal biases towards environmental efforts and because I’ve stayed in Villa Tortuga, one of the places that Lito Perez has restored, led me to pay just a little more attention to Anna Oposa, Lito Perez, and Jayvee Fernandez. I appreciated hearing their thoughts on how the online community and social media could be used to promote advocacies and build connections. Unfortunately, Carlo Celdran arrived much later because he got stuck in traffic.
The night ended with the awarding of the Empowered Travelers: travelers selected by Meet Manila and the sponsors to become ambassadors for Thoughtful Tourism. Congratulations to the three folks who were awarded that night!
(My nice surprise a few days later: I was chosen to be an Empowered Traveler too, along with Manyel! Apparently, they wanted to call all the Empowered Travelers to the front but with the power outage, they couldn’t round us all up in the dark. Haha. Thank you Meet Manila for this opportunity!)