Four Benildeans from the School of Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management (SHRIM) took home second place in the M.I.C.E. Youth Challenge on March 1 in Davao City. The M.I.C.E. Youth Challenge is a national academic competition that aims to hone future hospitality industry leaders and foster a culture of creativity and excellence among its participants.
In addition, the competition is part of the Philippine M.I.C.E. Conference (MICECON), the country’s premier gathering for professionals in the meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) industry.
This year’s M.I.C.E. Youth Challenge was the first-ever held in the Philippines, making it much more significant to industry leaders, students, and professionals. In an interview with The Benildean, the Powerhouse Team comprised of ID 119 HRIM students Kyla Kirsten Amor, Jay Angelo Paz, Janelle Frances Ang, and Daniella Ynez Medina shared that this was one of the factors that encouraged them to participate in the event. “We were also inspired by the thought that we could represent the College and be the pioneer students who will participate in the competition.”
For any competition, the preparation is just as difficult and important as the actual. From having only a week to work on the business proposal to the weeks leading up to the presentation, the Powerhouse Team was determined to grab this opportunity despite simultaneous internships and practicum classes.
Moreover, still coping with the transition back to onsite classes and events, the team didn’t know what to expect as it was both their first time competing and the first edition of the competition. “There were a lot of last-minute changes in the presentation, but we are proud to say that we pulled it off,” Amor shared. “Gladly, we had our mentor and coach, Ms. Stefanie Leuterio and Ms. Monette Hamlin, to guide and help us during the competition.”
The team also credits Benilde for their success, especially their professors, through the various mentorship and academic course subjects that helped them determine their main topic for the competition. Their presentation focused on Ilocos Norte’s culture and tourism, specifically the Abel Iloko, a term used in Ilocos for their weaving culture. The students were disheartened by the lack of recognition Ilocanos received for their art and craftsmanship and desired to bring more exposure to “inabel,” referring to any woven fabric originating in Ilocos. This became the Powerhouse Team’s advocacy, which led them to receive their distinction.
Their winning project is titled “Likhang Inabel: An Abel Iloko Cultural Celebration,” which is a three-day immersion camp beginning with Saritaan, a day of seminars, followed by Kultura, an encounter with the traditional weaving of Ilocos Norte, and concluded with Tawid, an opportunity for participants to discuss and plan their advocacy project that will contribute to the development of inabel.
The team described their reactions upon winning second place as disbelief. “We were all excited and looked at each other like we couldn’t believe it.” They also shared their reassurance after realizing they had succeeded. “It was also a feeling of relief, knowing that we’re making the Benilde proud, especially SHRIM. We were very happy knowing that all the hard work we poured into it is worth it.”
With the possibility of representing the country in the international AFECA MICE Youth Challenge in Thailand, the team still plans to continue refining and improving its concept. “As individuals, this will certainly continue as the team’s advocacy, and [we are] looking forward to it becoming a reality someday in which all of us will still be part of it,” they mentioned.
In their final messages to the Benildean community and aspiring SHRIM students, the team concluded, “It’s scary, especially when you have no idea what’s coming. Sometimes, it really is no longer about winning but the experience and training you’d gain.”
The team owes their success to the College, especially the SHRIM community and their mentors, for their never-ending support and to one of their Ilocano friends, Jhay Mhar Biding, who has helped them in their journey. “We hope that [Filipinos] will start to have the desire to know more about our own culture because we believe that not knowing one’s culture is not knowing one’s identity.”
Watch the full M.I.C.E. Youth Challenge here.