Thursday, September 28, 2006

Trust brings in tourists

Business Times p.B2
Thursday, September 28, 2006

By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Trust brings in tourists

Ni Hao. I just came back from Taipei, Taiwan, where I presented a paper on developing supervisors and teambuilding at the Summit of Globalization of Human Resources 2006. It was hosted by the Taiwan Ministry of Labour Affairs, Executive Yuan, and organized by Tze-Chiang Foundation of Science and Technology. It was held at the beautiful Taipei International Convention Center on September 22 and 23.

The convention was a definite success, with more than 600 delegates from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, England among others. From the Philippines, there were Manuel Sy Peng, Jr., president of the PMAP Bulacan Chapter; Noli Tibayan, HR director of Roche Philippines; and Marybeth Monies, HR manager of Ortigas Group of Companies.

But what I am most impressed about is Taipei and the Taiwanese people.

Even from the airplane, I was very impressed with what I saw. There is no idle patch of land, no matter how small, in Taipei and in adjoining areas. All lands are functionally used for buildings, farms, gardens and others. There is this teeny-weeny patch of land in front of the world trade center adjacent to the convention center and Taipei 101 along Taipei’s main road in the middle of the financial district and there was this couple who was tending the small garden of kamote, sugar cane, okra and I don’t know what else.

The places we visited—Taipei City, Taipei suburbs, Nanya Coastal Trail and Chiupen Village (an abandoned gold mine which has been converted to a tourist shopping area)—were very clean. The only litter we saw was the fallen leaves. Maybe, every kilometer, we saw a solitary cigarette butt, only if we really looked hard to find them.

The streets are wide and lined with trees. Until mid afternoon, the whole city smells of fresh plants. It was only during the afternoon rush hour that we smelled the fumes from exhaust pipes of vehicles. From the balcony of my room on the 16th floor of Pacific Business Center, I’ve never seen any trace of smog at all in the early morning. It is so encouraging to walk the streets of Taipei. There’s also plenty of room for pedestrians—wide and well-paved sidewalks. You could stroll along the sidewalks of Taipei blindfolded and not trip on any obstructions whatsoever.

The food is super. I am not a fan of Chinese food, but I really dig the way Taiwanese prepare their food. Save for the typical smell, I really enjoyed one week of Chinese food.

What is more impressive is that we felt safe walking the streets of Taipei at any given time, day and night. There is no need to clasp at your handbag tightly. They say that you could leave something valuable anywhere and when you go back, it will still be there or you could retrieve it from the Lost and Found. Wow! We saw thousands of motorcycles and bicycles parked in designated areas everywhere and they are left there just like that—not chained to any post or what.

The one that wins my highest esteem are the Taiwanese themselves. At the conference, they maintained a very respectful silence (you could hear a pin drop during the sessions). They talked to one another animatedly, but they were mindful of people around them. They were time conscious—all the sessions started and ended on time. The Taiwanese walked briskly everywhere they are. Hats off!

They listened attentively during the sessions and asked thoughtful questions. They are very eager to learn. By the way, the language of the conference was English because the Taiwanese are trying very hard to learn English as a second language to be more competitive in the global market.

They are also very helpful. Everywhere we asked around, the Taiwanese did not only answer our questions, but actually showed us the way. For example, at the train station, the ticket clerk (only one clerk at every station) gave us very good direction, got out of his glass office to show us how to use the MRT card and walked us to the stairs leading to the loading area. Sometimes, we’d rather not ask because we didn’t want them to drop whatever it is they are doing just to help us.

Oops, don’t be turned off by the personnel at the Taiwan Consular Office. I find it easier and more convenient to apply for a Visa at the US Embassy. My experience with them is the wart in my otherwise flawless experience in Taiwan.


Moje is a consultant on human resource and organization development and is accessible at

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