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âThemeâ work makes the dream work
Events guru Miguel Minana of ThemeWorks.

‘Theme’ work makes the dream work

PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - March 23, 2021 - 12:00am

Events guru Miguel Miñana’s career, has been, and is, to put it succinctly, eventful.

Miguel founded ThemeWorks Events 20 years ago and never looked back. In the last two decades, ThemeWorks has staged over a thousand events — including close to 100 Malacañang state dinners under three presidents, corporate events, APEC and ASEAN events, and numerous social events, including the unforgettable wedding of then Sen. Mar Roxas and Korina Sanchez in 2009.

Miguel, whose love for event management began with organizing the proverbial school fair during his high school years at La Salle Green Hills, says the name “ThemeWorks” was inspired by “Dreamworks,” the movie outfit of Steven Spielberg.

“I was always fascinated by that name and told myself that if and when I would set up my own events company it would have a similar ring to it.”

ThemeWorks mounted the state dinner for the Indian president, December 2019.

***

Miguel’s very first project for Malacañang was an official dinner hosted by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo for Prince Andrew of the United Kingdom in 2001. That was an event Manila’s crème de la crème looked forward to, for he may have been the first member of Britain’s royal family to visit after Princess Margaret in 1980.

ThemeWorks also mounted the state dinner hosted by President Arroyo for US President George W. Bush in 2003.

“Malacañang did not leave any stone unturned for this major event. For President Bush’s arrival, we recreated a barrio fiesta at the Malacañang grounds with over 300 Filipiniana dancers swaying to songs in pocket rural scenes,” recalls Miguel.

Then came a major challenge for ThemeWorks when Mrs. Arroyo decided to change the venue of another state dinner, this one for the president of Papua New Guinea — from Malacañang to Boracay! But ThemeWorks delivered.

ThemeWorks under Miguel’s baton also handled the 50th anniversary celebration of APEC at the World Trade Center at the SMX in 2019, with a stellar guest list of 16 presidents and prime ministers.

Joey Concepcion’s thanksgiving party, 2018.

“Everything was done with clockwork precision with over 500 waiters for 600 guests.  All was set for the November event in Mactan, Cebu. Two weeks before the scheduled event, a storm was brewing and about to hit the Visayas. Immediately, the event was rescheduled two months after, and so were arrangements for the over 500 performers for that gala night dinner.”

It seemed there was no force of man or nature that ThemeWorks couldn’t handle.

“It truly has been quite an ‘event-full’ journey, so to speak, with exciting projects, but not devoid of its own challenges,” says Miguel, who recalls that in the heyday of events planning, “The World Trade Center and the Araneta Coliseum were filled to the rafters with thunderous cheers reverberating. The term ‘social distancing’ was unheard of. In event staging, ‘virtual’ was not in our vocabulary.”

The year 2020 began for ThemeWorks with PeopleAsia magazine’s “People of the Year” awards night, a “roaring” success.

Then came a major seismic event on the world stage, the pandemic.

An event staged by ThemeWorks for SunLife under the new normal, July 2020.

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“Then the lights turned off for live events,” recalls Miguel. “Venues closed. Productions halted. And everyone involved in event staging was put on freeze mode. But the next few months gave us time to rethink our direction and plan out a roadmap for our events.”

Miguel and his team just had to adjust to the big change, which proved to be more than a hiccup.

“Webinars in various shapes and sizes flourished all over the globe exposing everyone in their barest — from the privacy of homes sans makeup, the dazzle of stage lights and the glitz and glam of fabulous attires. While all these were happening, ThemeWorks was reinventing itself and how to use this platform for our events,” he shares.

On July 4 last year, ThemeWorks Virtual Live Events was born. “We pioneered a new way of staging large-scale events in the country’s live event industry. This was through a sales convention for an industry leader staged in a massive studio with a viewership of over 12,000 homes. The production team was a hybrid mix of stellar names in live events and television staging,” he reveals.

It put together the technology of Zoom, Facebook, the treatment of television lifestyle and news shows, the razzle-dazzle of live shows and concerts and the new language of today, posts and tweets. Security guidelines were strictly formulated and implemented.

Six months and six events later, ThemeWorks further enhanced the virtual live event concept by further integrating the term “interactive.” Thus, a new term was coined for ThemeWorks, Interactive Virtual Live Events. “We just don’t create the space, the environment but we create the activities with this, given the space to work around with.”

Twenty years after his first royal event, a hundred state dinners, musicales, a pandemic and the trendsetting virtual events it spawned, Miguel is grateful that he is still living his dream.

“I am still doing what I love doing. I guess I know I am in the place where destiny has rightfully placed me in.”

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

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