Though the global pandemic has led to a slew of major changes in the forthcoming Expo 2020 Dubai, the construction of the Philippines’ ‘Bangkota’ pavilion remains unhampered and key plans formulated by its team prior to the emergence of COVID-19 stay on, said the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

DTI Assistant Secretary for the Trade Promotions Group and PH Expo 2020 Dubai, Alternate Commissioner General Rosvi C. Gaetos said the ‘Bangkota’ is nearing its full completion rate and will soon be ready to captivate the curiosities of the world in the post-pandemic era.

“We are 97% complete with the pavilion; we’re lucky to have a very good building contractor and also a very good project management team,” said Gaetos. “By August 30th, the fully completed pavilion will be turned over to us. That’s the time we can start the technical rehearsals in preparation for the opening this October. So, we are very much ready.”

“I’m glad that with this Dubai Expo, the Philippine government has done all out, in support for budgetary and otherwise. If not for the pandemic, we would have really accomplished everything as early as last year,” she added.

Although the construction, she said, is progressing on all fronts, and in no time would be ready for the much-vaunted largest event ever to be staged in the Arab world, the process had not come easy stemming from the limitations of mobility, especially during the height of the pandemic last year when mutual isolations between countries had dawned.

While they were trying to mount the re-imagined 4,000 years story of the Philippines through the pavilion, the Assistant Secretary said the DTI also had to ‘re-imagine’ ways to supervise the mega-project remotely to ensure that the contractors were bringing to life the designs, true to the vision and ideas of the creative team.

“We were off-site when the pandemic hit; we just came back [from Dubai] to Manila. So it was a big challenge. [Nonetheless], it appears that the vision of the architect and of the government has been met. The only thing that’s missing now would be putting together the Visitors’ Journey to the exhibits. It’s actually the last piece that we are finalizing now,” she said.

“The postponement [of the Expo last year],” she added, “was also good for us because it gave us an opportunity to fine-tune many things. But everything was being done virtually because we could not travel to Dubai to inspect the pavilion onsite. It really became a test of our patience and a test of our creativity to be able to build the pavilion with us here.”

Going to many great lengths just to keep the ground running and meet what had seemed to be impossible during the extraordinary global circumstances set this enormous overseas endeavor apart from the various Philippines’ expo participations in the past, indeed.

Targets remain big as before

The DTI Assistant Secretary admitted that uncertainties had come into play resulting from the disruptions that spiraled during the pandemic.

“The biggest impact of the pandemic is the uncertainty created in our plans. We may have been successful in delivering the pavilion according to our vision and to our goals, but how sure are we that visitors will come and visit it? How sure are we that people will appreciate what we have done? Again, this is the most expensive Philippine pavilion that the government has ever undertaken. I guess that’s the biggest question mark that the pandemic brought to fore,” she related.

“The responsibility for delivering rests largely on the shoulders of the organizers, but they had assured us that the number of target visitors remains. If they can deliver that, we will be incredibly happy customers.”

With the UAE achieving milestone after milestone even amid this global crisis, however, DTI expressed confidence that the visitors target of 25 million during the six-month-long mega-event would be hit, bolstered by Dubai’s proven mantra: ‘Build it and they shall come’.

In the middle of this month, the UAE placed on top of the global rankings in terms of vaccination rate, overtaking Israel, after it administered more than 120 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine per 100 people.

Before this, the Gulf country’s major push to inoculate its nationals and residents alike had proved to be an effective booster shot in gaining the confidence of consumers across the globe. It was named the No. 1 most resilient country in the world for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and No. 2 worldwide by the Consumer Choice Center (CCC), a non-for-profit organization representing the rights of consumers in over 100 countries.

Taking all these into consideration, the sight of Expo’s success is imminent proving the world once more the other mantra of Dubai that ‘nothing is impossible’ with a bold vision and optimism.

Originally published here.



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