On July 30, 2021, the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners - KSA and Qatar Chapters made another spectacular milestone. Concurrent with the celebration of “International Friendship Day”, the first International Cluster Conference entitled “Collaborate 2” and with the theme: “Strengthening International Relations in Promoting the Environmental Planning Profession”, a free online seminar with 3.5 CPD points was attended by hundreds of environmental planners representing various chapters in the Philippines and from overseas.
The support from the PIEP National Officers, and the Professional Regulation Commission Board of Environmental Planning made the event possible. The presence of Dr. Cora Cruz, Dr. Dina Magnaye, and EnP. Felicisimo Tejuco Jr. of the PRC CPD Councils were also highly recognized and appreciated during the event.
The conference was brought worldwide via Facebook live streaming, and with the help of its media partner, Qabayan Radio 94.3 FM – the first and only Filipino Radio Station in Qatar.
The masters of the ceremony, EnP. Joe Niño Orapa of PIEP KSA, and EnP. Arecles “Jak” Balde of PIEP Qatar flamboyantly handled the entire event through their hosting skills and charisma to engage the attendees in having a great learning atmosphere and experienced.
PIEP KSA Charter President. EnP. Eldrid Refil in his opening statement, addressed the honorable dignitaries, officers, and fellow planners, and set the tone of the conference as he gave an overview of what the attendees can expect and learn from the technical speakers from their own field of expertise and specialization.
The ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E. Adnan Alonto, highlighted in his speech the importance of the environmental planning profession and its crucial role in shaping the community and the future.
As for the ambassador of Qatar, H.E. Alan A. Timbayan, he emphasized that there is so much to learn from overseas Filipino environmental planners, particularly in improving the Philippines situation and resolving problems such as environmental degradation that results in climate change, setting Qatar as an example.
In their inspirational talks, PIEP National Executive Vice President - EnP. Levi Espinas and PIEP National President - EnP. Joy Hakcholna commended all the dedication and hard work of KSA and Qatar chapters in spearheading the International Cluster Conference, and gave their high hopes by the end of the conference as well as for sharing the multiple Job opportunities awaiting in both national and local government once the Filipino Planners decided to go back home in the Philippines and practice the Environmental Planning Profession.
The main highlight of the conference are the technical sessions presented by three resource speakers from KSA and Qatar. Each speaker shared their knowledge and expertise in their fields and presented very timely topics.
The first topic was entitled “Places for People – Strategies in Qatar Public Realm” and presented by EnP. Randy Panesa of Qatar Chapter. He effectively demonstrated strategies on how to establish an ideal community or public realm through various techniques and urban solutions. At the last part of the presentation, EnP. Randy showed some case studies in Qatar and interesting proposals and masterplans.
The second topic, “Urban Development in Oil & Gas Setting”, presented by Ar. Lyndon Calibuso, aims to raise awareness about the proper urban planning approach for a highly industrial oriented setting, and for the planners to learn the process of balancing safety, environmental risks, business continuity and urban setting. Ar. Lyndon provided essential points in his presentation, such as spatial concepts for safety, the four pillars of development, and basic urban planning guidelines, to name a few.
The third and last topic was presented by EnP. Jojo Utram of KSA Chapter, with the title “Strategic Water Supply & Distribution for Sustainable Development”. EnP. Jojo presented a complete and comprehensive study divided into five topics, dealing with Saudi Arabia’s water sector, desalination plants, Philippine water sector, wastewater disposal, and sustainable construction practices. The presentation was ended with a wonderful quote saying “Sa masaganang tubig, ay may masaganang buhay, kaunlaran, at pag-ibig.”
To wrap up the technical session, PIEP Qatar Chapter President EnP. Mary Grace Hermosa-Pineda delivered a comprehensive summary review of the three presented topics in her conference synthesis, and wholeheartedly thanked all the speakers for sharing their knowledge and expertise.
Consultative Meeting with POLO-OWWA
Right after the conclusion of the International Cluster Conference, the consultative meeting with PIEP KSA and Qatar Chapter and POLO-OWWA took place. It started with an Inspirational message coming from Labor Attaché in Qatar, Hon. Adam Musa, who congratulates both chapters for the successful conference, followed by the Asst. Labor Attaché in Riyadh, Hon. Lucille Gayaman, who emphasized the appropriateness of the theme to the current situation.
Hon. Evelyn C. Laranang, the Overseas Workers Welfare Officer of OWWA Qatar, presented an overview about the OWWA and its mandates, and their programs such as for social benefits, workers welfare assistance, repatriation, and other services.
In separate breakout sessions, Asst. Labor Attaché Hon. Lucille Gayaman and Hon. Evelyn Laranang, clarified and answered some pressing OFW concerns for KSA and Qatar, respectively.
Questions were raised about reintegration program, POLO support to PIEP professionals, Iqama/Visa issues, and some labor issues were addressed as well. Throughout the end of the Consultative Meeting, Filipino Workers in KSA and Qatar were reassured that POLO-OWWA will continue to open doors and serve Filipinos by all means, even in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis.
Indeed, the first International Cluster Conference of PIEP KSA and Qatar Chapter was a huge success. The collective hard work and dedication of its executive committees and members resulted in a well-organized and fruitful event. It effectively conveyed new knowledge and fresh ideas to all the attendees, thanks to the technical speakers. Certainly, each session gave every attendees new tools in dealing with the current challenges in their field.
This for sure will just be the beginning of many international conferences in the future that KSA and Qatar chapter will offer to our fellow Filipino planners across the world, as we all strive in promoting the continuous growth of our profession.