My friend, Charles Lim, the chairman and founder of the Philippine Sports Tourism Awards, shared with me this very encouraging and “trailblazing” piece of good news.
The Clark Freeport and Special Economic Zone, popularly known as “Clark”, the perennial winner in the Philippine Sports Tourism Awards as Destination of the Year, continues to press on by hosting sports tournaments in spite of quarantine restrictions brought about by the pandemic.
In fact, it holds the distinction of being the first spot in the country to create a safety bubble to stage in September last year the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) Philippine Cup. Added to that, Clark has also played host to two more major events this year – the Federation Internationale de Basketball Amateur (FIBA) Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers in June and the ongoing PBA championship.
Amidst COVID-19 challenges, the Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) and its subsidiary Clark Development Corp. (CDC), in coordination with the local governments of Pampanga and Angeles City, deserve plaudits for making possible this historic “PBA Bubble”.
Patterned after the successful NBA bubble in the US, the set-up restricts the movement of players, coaches, and staff to the airport, their respective hotels, and the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center where the games are held. This was how last year’s PBA Conference, which ran for three months, pushed through after it was shelved in the wake of the pandemic.
The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers in June this year marked the first time for the country to host a global event during the pandemic. Quest Plus Conference Center, located at Filinvest Mimosa Leisure City in Clark Freeport Zone, was home to most of the delegates in both sports events.
The property’s management made sure that health protocols set by the Inter-Agency Task Force (TF) were strictly observed in the preparation of the accommodations and the meals. In fact, even before the delegates arrived, the hotel, gym, and other staff who were also housed in the hotel had already been tested for COVID-19.
A checklist was created to ensure the safety of visiting athletes and their entourage, organizers, and hotel employees: health screening, digital contact tracing, and bags disinfection before entry to the hotel; RT-PCR testing and quarantine while waiting for the results; re-swabbing every 2-3 weeks (for PBA personnel) and on the fourth day (for FIBA delegates).
Medical staff from CDC Health and Sanitation Office, The Medical City Clark, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Medical Center Clark are always available. Security staff from the hotel, CDC, and the LGU work 24/7. Either packed meals are delivered to the rooms or a managed buffet is made available. Regular cleaning and disinfection of facilities, PPE for workers and other prescribed health and safety gear and equipment are the standard.
Quest Plus Conference Center PR and communications manager Renzelle Ann Palma declares her property’s commitment to make guests feel comfortable and safe, while protecting their 200-plus in-house employees by making sure that everyone stays within the bubble.
She also excitedly announced that more bubble events and tournaments have recently been hosted by Quest Plus. They had the Olympic swimming team of Israel on the last leg of their practice for the Tokyo Olympics. They also hosted that country’s team for the Paralympics. There’s another bubble event being discussed, and it’s for volleyball this time.
With this pandemic continuing to wreak havoc on our planned activities, it could take a while before we witness big international events on our shores. Until then, we will overcome these constraints imposed on us by this pandemic by creating a controlled environment of accommodations, amenities, and venues where athletes can reside and compete safely.
Clark has, indeed, risen to the occasion, and is now ready for more sports events.
YOUR WEEKEND CHUCKLE
TEACHER: What do you call a woman in heaven?
JOHNNY: An angel.
TEACHER: A crowd of women in heaven?
JOHNNY: A host of angels.
TEACHER: And ALL women in heaven?
JOHNNY: Peace on earth!
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