EDITORIAL - A little reality wouldn’t hurt

(The Freeman) - September 3, 2015 - 10:00am

It can be said with much sincerity and confidence that Cebu has spared no effort in making its hosting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings a huge success. From almost turning the place into a garrison state just to ensure the safety and security of the delegates, to making changes in the normal routes of public transport, to making a fiesta out of their free-time tours -- Cebu truly tried to put its best foot forward.

And it is to be held pretty certain that the delegates from the 21 Asia and Pacific Rim member countries will recognize the effort that went into the hosting and will be thankful for the experience. Any minor kinks that surely must have transpired could not be enough to upset the overall success of one of the most important international events Cebu has had the privilege to host.

It is to be held pretty certain as well that many of the delegates would be tempted to come back, no longer in their official capacities, but as private tourists, maybe with their families or friends in tow, hoping to relive once more the delightful experience they surely must have enjoyed while official guests of the city and province.

And therein lies the danger -- the danger of being disappointed the second time around. For it is a safe bet that if some of the delegates should ever come back as plain ordinary tourists, they will discover the place to be vastly different from what they have seen and experienced when they were here the first time. This is not the time, of course, to list down all the negative possibilities that await their second visit. But the sad reality is that they will be there.

And that is the problem with trying to paint over each and every ugly reality that we do not want our guests to see. Even if our guests will never have any more occasion to come back, the way we laid out the butter too thick for them will make them ware and realize that everything is too good to be true and that we must be trying to hide something. These delegates are what they are because they are somebody in their respective countries. They are experts and should see through things.

This is not to say that we should hold back on our biggest asset -- our friendliness and capacity for graciousness and hospitality, not to mention efficiency. But there really is no perfect world. Even the delegates themselves would admit as much, even about their own countries. In fact, it is precisely why APEC and similar groupings came about -- to try to make sense of the world and make it a better place. Because it is not perfect.

And that is the point. We tried to make our hosting of the APEC meetings as close to perfect, to the point of making things look ridiculous and ridiculously contrived. A little reality wouldn't hurt if we just let the delegates discover Cebu, its people, its sights, its smells, for what they really are. And if they fall in love with the place for all its beauty, and warts and all, then they will keep coming back, and back, for more. But if they see through the veneer, they won't.



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