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Speaking at the Extreme North: Rough it up in Ilocandia Convention Sep 27, 2012

Speaking at the "Extreme North: Rough it up in Ilocandia" Convention

Getting the Invite
A Facebook friend (Sherwin) has been reading my blog and suggested to the students of the 15th Annual Convention and Exhibit of the Mariano Marcos State University (Batac City, Ilocos Norte) to get me as a resource speaker. Who me? I haven't really done any kind of public speaking before, but my stint as a Survivor Philippines Castaway where I had to face the media and talk to people made me realize I could face and connect to my audience. Naturally, I said "yes" on clear stipulation that I didn't want any renumeration but would request a reimbursement of expenses. They agreed. After finalizing the details with Zyrelle Viloria (my contact person), I was on the plane for Ilocos.

VIP Treatment
I was lavished by the organizers as they looked after my needs - airport pick-up where I met some of them for the first time, the luxurious room they booked me into at the Plaze del Norte Hotel, sumptuous breakfast, etc. I felt like a pampered pig. I couldn't ask for better treatment.

Mistaken Notion
The entire time, I thought it was the graduation commencement of the tourism batch - so my speech was more about making a difference once they join the workforce. It was only a few minutes before my speech that I realized that the entire convention - the planning, organizing and implementation, was a semestral project by the graduating batch before they are sent off to do their OJT. I had to adjust my speech accordingly - but only in my head. I had no written speech prepared as I wanted to be spontaneous. Instead, I shared with them, lessons gleaned from my travels and how they impact on tourism.

Clueless on Stage
When I went up stage, they gave me a little metal thing. I didn't know it was a laser pointer. It was after my talk I realized I was expected to do a Powerpoint presentation on prepared materials like all the speakers - duh! Up on stage, it was a strange feeling - I couldn't see my audience as it was dark with only the blinding spotlight facing me. I tensed up trying to get aclimatized to this strange and discomforting situation. It took a while for me to loosen up.

Toursim Talk
I essentially talked about practices that either makes or breaks tourism for a place. I gleaned from my experience and also from fellow travellers. The common culprit was overcharging. Tricycles and jeeps are notorious for gouging tourists. Even taxis give you all the excuses why you should pay them more than the meter - because it's raining, because it's far from his home, because he's already hungry, etc. Next thorn was garbage - no explanation needed. The plus points? Providing services for free that tourist would expect to pay for, knowledgeable tourism officers who are impartial, accessibility, etc. Furthermore, I talked to them about professional ethics - this I find lacking in most industries. I also pointed out the imperative for doing things right the first time, according to specs (no shortcuts) within the agreed timeframe. I hope I was able to get through to my audience.

Q&A
After my talk, I entertained a few questions from the audience. It was my chance to finally connect to them. They posed questions about innovative approaches to Ilocos' tourism objective. Others posted questions on women's safety traveling alone, stupid things I've done as a traveler, etc.

Ribbon Cutting
That was followed by the official cutting of the ribbon to unveil the outdoor exhibit they prepared - 4x4s, mountain bikes, kayaks, sand, scuba gear, etc. What surprised me was the photo opt the younger students wanted to have with me - it was like the Survivor days again. I was just happy to indulge.

Night Swimming
What followed that night was the fun time at Plaza del Norte pool with the rest of the participants. I was no longer in my long sleeve shirt, and was ready to party with them. I liked the informality when I could ask them to drop the 'po', 'sir' or 'Mr.' From then on, I just wanted to be 'the dude' to them. That evening, I warmed up to them as they did to me. I enjoyed that.

Ending Thoughts
When I accepted the invite to talk, I thought it would be a cut-and-dry process - take the plane to Ilocos, do my speech and fly back. Yes, it happened that way, but there were many pleasant surprises that happened the following day, where we take on a 5km coastal hike and fun activities on the sand dunes of Paoay. It would prove to be great bonding for us all.

--- TheLoneRider

»» next story: Fun Time on Paoay's Sand Dunes - 4X4 and Sand Boarding

(Pictures provided by the organizers of the "Extreme North: Rough it up in Ilocandia" Convention)
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Reader Comments:

Gigit SulitGigit Sulit
"You are a great person with a great personality" -- Zyrelle Viloria
(Nov 17, 2012) That was really sweet, Zy. Thank you!
Zyrelle ViloriaZyrelle Viloria
(Nov 14, 2012) You are a great person with a great personality Gigit. We learned a lot from you. You inspire people around the world with your travel blogs and real sure, you have touched many lives. Continue sailing where life takes you and discover its many wonderful surprises for you. Godbless you always.
Kasian May T. Llagas
(Nov 1, 2012) It's an honor to have you in our convention Sir. Thank you for spending time with us. Hope we could explore the extraordinary and experience the extreme of Ilocos Norte again.
092712

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