Monday, November 17, 2014

Fablab helps Boholano designers
Compete for ASEAN integration

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, November 15, (PIA) – Since May 2014, Bohol fabrication laboratory (fablab) has helped some 25 micro, small and medium enterprise (SME) groups in making their products fare better as the country braces for ASEAN Integration by 2015, reports Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Regional Director Asteria Caberte. 

Of the 25 groups, 6 would come from the food industry where 3 are micro and another 3 belongs to MPCs, groups outside Bohol needing design assistance and students of BISU, Caberte told media. 

The rest are furniture, metal and woodworks, simple circuit boards for automations, packaging and food processing. 

Aside from the SME, the state of the art fabrication laboratory has provided an experience-based learning to science, technology and engineering students of the Bohol Island State University, adds Dr. Elpidio Magante, school president. 

The fablab is a shared service facility, which helps small and medium entrepreneurs produce better quality products.

This as the creative industries in the province sought for state of the art technology that could help them do rapid prototypes of high value and quality products to ascertain uniformity, product standard and the ability for mass production. 

A project of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Bohol Island State University (BISU), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the United States Agency for International Development (AUSAID), the fablab in Bohol is the country’s first of its kind, according to Trade Regional Director Aster Caberte. 

It is a technology filled laboratory that offers hardware, software and state of the art equipment which attempts to help designers, food technologists, local products specialists and travel retail craftsmen replicate any of their creations with the precision only computers can make. 

Machineries and technologies at the fablab Bohol include Small Milling Machine, a 3D Printer, Universal Laser System with water cannon, shopbot, Pina Teleconferencing with other Fablab experts and all Teleconferencing and sweatshirts

In Asia, regional leaders have been batting for an ASEAN economic community, to create one whole single market and production base in the region by ensuring free flow of goods, services, investment, capital and skilled or less skilled labor. 

The AEC, which was signed in previous ASEAN conferences, pegged the start of opening Asean Member States (AMS) doors to friendly ASEAN workers accepting work without the need for working permits anymore, That also means products can come in the country without having to collect import duties. 

As this bodes well to boost investments, open up jobs, and escalate incomes, for producers, they would need to brace for the flooding of cheaper products that could practically drown the local competitions. 

Here, the fablab forms as a laboratory for local designers and engineers needing the technological back-up towards the manufacture of product prototypes that could compete with the onslaught of cheap products.

We all need to work together to understand the pros and cons of global policy reforms to ensure that the poor communities in the tourism supply chain, can participate as destinations or suppliers of travel retails or souvenirs and food for the industry according to a hint by DTI Assistant Secretary Ceferino Rodolfo, during a round table discussion at the BISU Fablab Conference Hall, November 14. (RAC/PIABohol)

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Loboc relaunches floating restos 
implements new “twist”, system

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, For over a year of slump following a disastrous earthquake that drastically altered Loboc skyline, the tourism town relaunches its charming river cruises, now with a new twist.

The twist: a standardized tourism menu, a strict rotating departure system and more infrastructures to upgrade the river cruise experience, according to Loboc Mayor Helen Alaba in an interview Saturday.

Loboc River cruises “ranaground” when repairs had to be made to the Loboc Bailey Bridge, cutting the main access to the Loboc Tourism Complex where the floating restos depart, which can only be accessed by crossing the bridge.

As the town devised a system to use the unfinished jumbo bridge located alongside the bailey bridge, tourism arrivals slumped a bit due to the tourists inconvenience of walking up the steep ladders and using up precious enjoyment time.

TOURISM DOUBLE WHAMMY

But as if the closed bridge was not enough, the October 15 2013 earthquake jeopardized the boat docking facility and portions of the bridge leading to the Tourism Complex, which simply choked the town’s main tourism activity to death, narrates a boat operator who used to have three boat trips reduced to Once or none in a day.

The earthquake also toppled centuries old Sts. Peter and Paul Church, reduced the iconic cleaning stone tower to an ugly pile of heap and rendered useless the bridge elevators which could have offered aged tourist going to the complex, with some respite.

After the earthquake, the town has to double-up on repairs of the docking facility and clear public infrastructure debris, momentarily stopping the river cruise operations.

A few days later however, Bohol Local Tourism Ccouncil sought alternate access and tried offering slightly altered pour package.

But acess to the tourism complex was prohibitive the the peak-time 2-3 thousand tourists a day stuttered to a miserable 180, Mayor Alaba said.

RELAUNCHING THE FLOATING RESTOS

The bid to bring back the magic and the allure of Bohol’s iconic catamaran push boats and floating restaurants had local government leaders and private sector partners experimenting on a “work in Progress”, confesses Lourdes Sultan, local floating restaurant operator and town private sector partner.

A tourism activity that has pegged for Bohol a signature of the jade green river Zand the ubiquitous tourists laden floating fiesta, Loboc River Cruises, rendered to the town a daily revenue of at least P100 for every tourist coming in.

The sum is a river toll fee that the town uses to rehabilitate the river and remedy environmental impacts that the tourism activity may cause, local leaders added.

The operations of the floating restaurants provide employment to boat operators, signalmen, waiters, cooks, and support industries like market suppliers, earning the needed stir in the local economy.

Bul, like all competitive businesses, the river cruise also hosts some issues.

Operators compete against each other, Ofering the most incentives so drives are more prone to patronize those who can give best offers.

At least another operator banks on an international rating company and a vast array of food that most visiting tourist picks it over others. This, in a way, creates imbalance that local wish to pat into shape, a tour driver confesses.

Now with an established common menu, which the town put up after a series of capacitating trainings and workshops using respected chefs and industry giants, Loboc river cruises steam ahead with a more even playing field hints Elmer Varquez town tourism officer.

And with a stricter departure system agreed upon by the most operators, we seem to see that things should work out fine, He added.

However, even tourism operators believe to make the river cruise experience a uniquely Boholano and yet business-like for tourists out to maximize time and enjoyment, a system has to honed constantly.

“This is going to be a work in progress”, Sultan, who owns The Village Floating Restaurant shared. (RAHC)

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Bohol tourism human resource dev’t plan up

TAGBILARAN COTY, Bohol, November 15 (PIA) – A group attempting to finally match the quality of Philippine higher education graduates to the stringent requirements of the globally - competitive tourism industry is now ready to bequeath to Bohol its finding and recommendations to a More effective industry here.

The Philippine Business for Education (PBEd), in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Philippines, Has indulged Boholanos and tourism industry stakeholders and higher education key workers, technical and vocational experts as well as local government key movers and support industries in interviews, surveys, focused group discussions to come up with a win-win solution to the problem.

“It’s a frustrating problems really” a resort owner who hired a fresh graduate, thinking tha the local schools offering hotel, restaurant and management courses would come up to the challenge of upgrading the curriculum to make it responsive to the needs and the local culture.

Tourism frontline operations demand the most proper attitude, and its support industries should atleast be able to handle basic languages confidently, accomplish demanding mental tasks, for the industry to Pick up the pace and really become globally at par with other nations.

The school curriculum which is crafted could still be enhanced into a more responsive mill ifidnustry stakeholders and school administrators collaborate in shaping up a design which approximates the needs, tourism industry observers have shared.

Another thing , If the Tourism Act provides for a system of rating tourism establishments, it must also be applicable to frontline workers so that accredited tour guides would be professionally paid on a performance based system, and not on the length of service which tends to make older guides stagnate in the old stock of spiels, and unpublished research from a leading tourism institute stated.

PBEd has been implementing the higher Education and Productivity Project. Our main goal is to address concerns over the mismatch between the quality of the Philippines’ higher eduation graduates and the needs of its industries through greater industry participation in curriculum desing, quality assurance and accreditation, according to Justine Eleonor Raagas, PBEd Sr. Program Manager.

In line with this, we have crafted a Human Resource Development Plan for the Tourism Industry of Bohol through the technical assistance of Asia Pacific Projects, Inc. (APPI), with funding support from the United States Agency for International Development-Philippines, he added.

After gathering data through interviews, surveys and focused group discussions with local stakeholders from higher education institutions, technical-vocational schools, local government units, and business, we are now ready to present the findings and recommendations of this plan.

And just in time when Bohol picks up the tourism pieces which shattered during the earthquake, PBEd is now ready to present and officially turn over the Human Resource Development Plan for the Tourism Industry of Bohol to the provincial government.

The event is set for Tuesday, November 18, 2014 6:00pm-8:00pm at the Governor’s Mansion, Tagbilaran City (RAC/PIABohol)

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