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Missed opportunities, bright prospects

/ 02:18 PM October 28, 2013

It’s back to square one for some organizations involved in planning big events in Cebu City after the 7.2 killer earthquake caused heavy damage to the Cebu International Convention Center (CICC).

The damage for CICC is quite considerable even in layman’s terms. The main building’s exterior walls fell down and cracks were noted in interior walls. The function rooms, exhibition halls, comfort rooms, electrical wiring and storage tanks were also damaged, rendering the facility unfit for use. The bill for repairs is pegged at more than P32 million.

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The CICC is just one of province-owned facilities affected by the earthquake.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III is currently finalizing the schedule for repairing damaged properties inside the Capitol compound, like the BAEX building that houses many offices. In addition, many school buildings, hospitals and bridges in different towns need to be rehabilitated. Because the administration also signified to help rebuild damaged churches in southern towns, tacking a budget for each project will be a monumental challenge for Governor Davide.

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Quantifying the damage in terms of the budget needed to repair and restore a structure like the CICC can be misleading because the facility was built to generate revenues for the provincial government.

The CICC was meant to accommodate the demand for big venues, Cebu being a hub of local and international conferences and events. Having said that, missed opportunities in terms of hosting such events are added up to the losses of the government.

Last week, I joined the Central Visayas Cooperative Congress together with some 500 participants at the convention hall of the J Center Mall in Mandaue City. The regional Coop Congress is a biennial event held under the auspices of local government units and the Cooperative Development Authority (CDA) extension office in Cebu led by Felipe Deri. The event was the highlight of Cooperative Month, an annual celebration during the month of October.

There are more than 1,600 coops throughout Central Visayas, and cognizant of their role in social development, Gov. Davide keynoted the two-day affair (Oct. 25 and 26).

In his speech, the governor cited the contribution of co-ops in bringing social services to the community, thus filling the gap of what the state is unable to do. The governor then asked co-op members to bring their concerns to his attention, even as he promised that he will respond to their needs and problems.

I think Gov. Davide has yet to finalize the outline of his program to help develop more than 700 co-op enterprises in the province. Coming up with a feedback mechanism, wherein co-operators are encouraged to interact with his administration will help the governor shape his co-op agenda.

The Central Visayas Cooperative Congress turned out to be an event within an event because it also launched the National Cooperative Summit 2014. The biennial event is sponsored by the Philippine Cooperative Center (PCC), the apex co-op organization in the country.

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PCC chairperson Sylvia Paraguya and PCC acting general manager and summit coordinator Elsie Remonte graced the launch in the company of CDA Administrator Mercedes Castillo and Executive Director Neil Santillan.

Part of the presentation was the turnover of the hosting job from co-operators in Northern Mindanao to Cebu City-based VICTO National and the Philippine Cooperative Central Fund Federation (PCF). The twin federations will share hosting responsibilities and after the Oct. 15 earthquake, nothing can be more challenging than looking for an appropriate venue for 5,000 expected participants.

This corner and media colleagues who attended the post-launch news conference gathered this info from VICTO National chairperson Doris Cañares. She said that since the CICC is now off limits to the public, they are considering a plush hotel in Lahug as an option, although she is a bit wary because the cost of bringing the co-op summit to a 5-star hotel could jack-up registration fees.

Well, I don’t think it’s a problem because I recall hosting a co-op event in 2011at the Radisson Blu hotel. The affair, which was attended by more than 1,000 local and foreign delegates, emphasized the success self-help organizations under a capitalist economic system.

I hear a lot of people saying the killer quake is a blessing in disguise because it allowed government officials to focus on retrofitting structures which have been neglected for decades. The tragedy has likewise opened a lot of possibilities for the private sector, such as building a big center to address the local demand for capacious halls.

This is a window of opportunity for the co-op sector; after all, it holds numerous events year in and year out.

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TAGS: Cebu International Convention Center (CICC), column, Earthquake, opinion
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