Thursday, August 26, 2010

Key tourism event to push through despite Manila hostage-taking tragedy

MANILA, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Aug. 26, 2010) - Despite fears that Monday's tragic hostage-taking fiasco would discourage foreign visitors to Manila, a key international conference and tourism event is set to push through next month.

In a statement, Ikebana International said it does not expect any cancellations by foreign delegates to its four-day 11th Asian Regional Conference in Manila to foster peace, friendship and love through flowers.

"We are praying for the victims of the horrible (hostage-taking) tragedy. Our hearts go out to the families who lost their loved ones," said Evangeline Cheng, president of Ikebana International's Manila Chapter 108.

Cheng said participants and guests from Hong Kong are among the 300 foreign visitors slated to arrive for the conference.

"We also have confirmations of attendance by delegates and guests from Japan, India, Taiwan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, the United States, Germany and Italy," Cheng said.

Cheng expressed hope that the conference would "somehow help create better understanding," particularly between the Chinese residents of the former British crown colony and the Filipino people.

Eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed in the highly publicized hostage-taking incident.

Ikebana International is a non-profit cultural organization dedicated to the promotion and appreciatiation of Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement.

Consistent with Ikebana International's aim to unite peoples of the world through their mutual love of nature and enjoyment of flowers, "Oneness" or Pagkakaisa is the theme of the Manila conference.

President Benigno Aquino III is the invited guest of honor at the opening of the September 23-26 conference at the Makati Shangri-La Hotel.

The huge international gathering is the country's first major tourism event since Mr. Aquino assumed office.

The event includes exhibitions of flower arrangements, a grand demonstration, bazaars and a city tour with barrio fiesta.

Ikebana International's Manila Chapter 108 is conference host, with Cebu Chapter 145, Davao Chapter 133 and Cagayan de Oro Chapter 163 as co-hosts. Celia Guevarra-Lazaro is conference chairperson.

The Manila chapter was established in 1966 by Carmen Guevarra, with Rose Avancena, Virginia Avancena, Remedios Cepeda, Dolores Luz, Jane Markusson, Gloria Monzon, Pilar Relova, Carmen Roces, Asuncion del Rosario and Susie Winternitz as founding members.

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