The Health & Wellness Confex 2024 opened yesterday, Jan. 26, at the SMX Center in Pasay City, with resounding success. The event, a three-day gathering of health and tourism industry stakeholders that will run until Sunday, Jan. 28, was kicked off by such luminaries as Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Benjamin C. Abalos, Jr., Department of Tourism (DOT) Undersecretary Myra Paz Valderrosa-Abubakar, and Pasay City Mayor Imelda Calixto-Rubiano.
In his keynote address, Herbosa said supporting wellness tourism is now a priority for the DOH. This was confirmed by Dr. Maria Francia Miciano-Laxamana, DOH undersecretary for medical tourism, who pointed out in her presentation that ensuring the safety and health of tourists is a major department objective.
Meanwhile, Abalos emphasized the importance of being healthy and leading a healthy lifestyle. He talked about his mother’s passing due to the coronavirus back in 2022. While it was a tragedy, he said it also marked the beginning of his health and wellness journey. “While at the hospital, I had nothing to do. Everyone was wearing masks and PPEs (personal protective equipment). I was the only one in shorts and I had to sign a waiver because I insisted on staying with my mother at the ICU,” he narrated. “I couldn’t do much so I did push-ups. After only three push-ups, my hands were shaking. But I forced myself to continue, and you know what? Today, I’m doing 139 push-ups every day.”
“I’ve also been running every week and I spend one hour in the gym every day,” he added. “Health and wellness are all about attitude and it should be a priority for everyone regardless of age,” he said.
Calixto-Rubiano echoed the importance of having the right mentality towards health and wellness. She also talked about the various health and wellness programs of the Pasay City government, including the empowering mothers and infants or EMI project. “We are aligned with the First 1,000 Days program, a public health initiative that aims to provide comprehensive health and nutrition support during the first 1000 days of a child's life,” she said.
In addition, the city implements feeding programs, conducts free medical tests, and extends support for COVID-19 patients.
The first day's list of speakers also included Wanda Teo, former DOT secretary, and Cynthia Lagdameo Carrion, Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) general manager and CEO. Every speaker focused on their unique perspectives, but all of them emphasized the need to integrate health and wellness into the tourism industry.
The messages particularly cited the huge boost the recent collaborative efforts between the DOT and DOH would give to the campaign to promote the Philippines as a prime health and wellness tourist destination.
Another highlight of the first day of the Health and Wellness Confex 2024 conference was a roundtable discussion about the Filipino brand of wellness. The discussion was moderated by Catherine Turvill, Wellness Nurture Village founder and president. The panel was made up of Jennifer Sanvictores, The Farm at San Benito global head of sales and marketing communications, Vikki C. Aquino, Okada Manila director of The Retreat Spa, Kenneth Trullench, Las Caidas Wellness Resort Wellness Resort manager, and Atho De La Cruz, Ilaya Retreat Spa at Damires Hills Farm and Spa Resort Spa and Wellness director.
The Health & Wellness Confex 2024 is being held to bring together industry leaders, policymakers, and practitioners to foster dialogue, share best practices, and pave the way for a more robust and integrated approach to health and wellness tourism in the Philippines.
Today, Jan. 27, will be the second day of the three-day event. Attendees can look forward to more informative presentations, as well as workshops and demonstrations on various facets of health and wellness tourism. The focus for today’s presentations will be on travel and technology, as well as natural and organic anti-aging best practices.
Co-presented by the Department of Tourism (DOT), in partnership with the Department of Health (DOH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Philippine Coconut Authority (PCA), and the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corporation, the event is likewise supported by the Department of Agriculture, Department of Migrant Workers, Tourism Promotions Board, and Duty Free Philippines.
The Health & Wellness CONFEX 2024 is also made possible by the following:
Major Sponsors: Philippine Retirement Authority, Enjoy Health, Lifecore Bio Integrative Inc., Dean & Deluca Philippines, The Zen Institute, Conrad Manila, The Farm at San Benito, Nurture Wellness Village, Organique, CWC Interiors, Pots for Plants, and Center for Healthy Aging and Regenerative Medicine (CHARM), Lanson Place, Networld Hotel, Lime Hotels & Resorts;
Minor Sponsors: Food Club, Sonia’s Garden, Annapoorna, Happy Garden Café, Holistic Integrative Care Center Philippines (HICC), Aba Pardes, King Fu Express, Piggy Papa, The Belle Salon, Speir Modern Residences;
Event Partners: IQ Capture Printing Corporation, Ark of Dreams, Market Social, SMX Convention Center, DigitalCircles Marketing Services, and Phildiz Studios;
Media Partners: GMA Network, ABS-CBN Corporation, GMA 7 GTV, Aliw Channel 23, Asian Journal, Balikbayan Magazine, Philippine Daily Inquirer, Business Mirror, Daily Tribune, Digital Out Of Home Media (DOOH), Manila Standard, Rising Tigers, DZRH, Entrepinas TV, and Quezon City Performing Arts Development Foundation Inc.;
Telco Partner: Globe
Organizers and Event Managers: Mblessed Travel & Marketing, Inc. and Concept One Management Services.
From the creative concept of Mblessed Travel and Marketing, Inc., the Health & Wellness CONFEX 2024 was spearheaded by a team of seasoned event organizers, wellness advocates, travel and tours agencies, and marketing & communication professionals, and with the country's wellness guru, Cory Quirino, as its Executive Director.