Saturday, February 28, 2015

4 decades of DATA

“4 decades of DATA
Sun.Star Davao, Feb. 28, 2015

Back in the mid-90s to early 2000, I had the privilege of expressing my deep love for Davao through my work at the Davao City Tourism Office.

I was in my early 20s then, passionate and eager to do my personal share in promoting Davao to the Philippines and the world.  One of the best times I’ve definitely had during this ‘season’ in my life was the unforgettable chance to collaborate with the private sector, particularly, the vibrant Davao Tourism Association (DATA).

DATA recently celebrated its 40th or Ruby Year Anniversary at The Marco Polo Grand Ballroom. 

Looking at the program’s list of past presidents, I felt honored to have worked with the likes of industry leaders Mary Ann ‘Baby’ Montemayor, Margarita ‘Margie’ Moran-Floirendo, George Walter Misa, and Art Boncato through my involvement with DATA as well as Women in Travel, SKAL Davao, among others.

Art Boncato, who now serves as the Assistant Secretary of the Department of Tourism, shares the story of how DATA came to be. “In the 70s, Davao tourism private sector leaders organized DATA with four gentlemen taking the cudgels of nurturing an infant organization”, says Asec. Art.

DATA’s first president was travel trade player Ricardo Acuña followed by historian and restaurateur Rogelio Lizada, Philippine Airlines executive Napoleon Doctor, and hotelier Ding Diaz.

“With their pioneering vision for tourism, DATA has counted years of strengthening the tourism industry in the city. DATA’s landmark projects and achievements include the hosting of an annual cultural gathering in the 70s that is considered the mother of the Apo Duwaling Festival (Mt. Apo, durian, waling-waling) and now the successful Kadayawan Festival; several prestigious Kalakbay Awards for Best Association from the Department of Tourism (DOT); and Hall of Fame Award for Best Pavilion from the DOT and Philippine Tour Operators Association (PHILTOA) at the Philippine Travel Mart (PTM)”, says Asec. Art.

He continues that the “game-changing Mindanao Culinary Festival (MCF); the trailblazing Php 7 million GATT Tourism Skills Training Program; Balik Davao blitzes in the US; the first of its kind eco-adventure travel trade show dubbed as 90s ‘Go! Mindanao Travel and Tour Expo’; recent MICE bids on MICE Conference 2013 (won); Philippine Advertising Congress (won but the event was cancelled); APEC 2015 (shortlisted), among others” were also among the many contributions of DATA to the tourism industry.

As DATA’s momentous Ruby Year was held on Chinese New Year, guests as well as past and present officers were encouraged to wear the auspicious color red.

The indefatigable Baby Montemayor, Chairman of the 4 Decades of DATA Steering Committee, eloquently delivered the welcome remarks. She highlighted the importance of DATA’s role in steering the Davao tourism industry to what it is today. “And, now the city is reaping the benefits”, she enthused.

After dinner, city, regional and national tourism updates were given respectively by the Davao City Tourism Operations Officer Lisette Marques; Department of Tourism Region XI director Robby Alabado; and DOT Assistant Secretary Art Boncato.

In addition, art pieces from Davao artist Vic Secuya’s Cross Series were presented to 16 (4 of which were posthumous) past DATA presidents, namely: Ricardo Acuña, Rogelio Lizada, Napoleon Doctor, Ding Diaz, Mariano Pamintuan, Claude Le Neindre, George Walter Misa, Efren Veneracion, Joji Ilagan Bian, Rudolf Lopez, Mary Ann Montemayor, Margarita Floirendo, George Walter Misa, Arturo Boncato (who was DATA president twice), Paul Borromeo, Angel Puentespina, Gene Bangayan and current president Salome San Jose.

Event sponsor Marco Polo Davao’s Francis Ledesma and DATA logo creator Lou Almendras were likewise honored with Secuya’s exquisite artwork.

Kudos to the 4 Decades of DATA Steering Committee, chair Baby Montemayor, co-chair Gene Bangayan, program head Paul Borromeo, solicitations/finance head Alexander Divinagracia, food and physical arrangement head Baby Montemayor and Lena Benedicto, awards/AVP head DOT through the Office of Asec. Art Boncato and secretariat Konkordans, Inc., for a well-attended and fun affair!

I shall forever be grateful to my loving mommy mentors during my tourism days, especially Tita Baby Montemayor, Ninang Gene Bangayan and former DOT Region XI director Kiling Dakudao, who have inspired me to work with grace even under pressure. It was truly wonderful to reconnect with the other DATA officers who I haven’t seen in years during their recent Ruby Anniversary!

My sincerest thanks to Paul Borromeo for the event photos.

E-mail the author at Visit

No comments: