JP Cabalza

John Paul Cabalza or JP, the young and dynamic president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) is wearing two hats this year - that of President of the 500-strong PTAA and Chairman of the 21st Travel Tour Expo scheduled Feb. 14 to 16, 2014 at the SMX Convention Center.

Their theme is very apt, which is 'Love Life, Love Travel' and among the exciting expo innovations will be the bigger participation of the Philippine Airlines who will occupy almost 1,000 square meters of space at the second floor to better serve those who will purchase air tickets at huge discounts! In previous expos, PAL's booths were always the most sought after with very long queues and waiting time, sometimes lasting 2 to 3 hours.

The expo expects close to 400 exhibitors that include airlines, hotels, resorts, country clubs, travel agencies, tour operators, transportation companies, and foreign embassies. In last year's expo, PTAA joined forces with the Japanese Embassy as well as Japanese firms to encourage expo participants to support Japan's need for more visitors after the major tsunami that hit northern Japan in 2011 and displaced thousands of people. The yearly PTAA expo has become a popular venue for countries like Japan who need support of the ever growing travelling population of the world.

I asked JP about how the traditional travel agencies, most of which are PTAA members, stay relevant in this era of 'online travel booking agents' or 'OTA's' who have already gained tremendous ground in terms of hotel room bookings. JP is quick to tell me that although they have learned to adapt to the changing times, travel agencies still play a very crucial role for the 'MICE' market (meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions) where personalized service is still the key. "PTAA provides continuing education to its members on how they can stay relevant and needed," he added.

The athlete, writer, chef, instructor, husband, and father— few of the many faces and triumphs of one Chef Gene Gonzalez.

Hospitality Report: The Black Belt CulinarianHospitality Report: The Black Belt Culinarian

Chef Gene Gonzalez is known for his great passion for food and wine, but not very many know he once taught martial arts and was a black belter in this field. The black belt is the highest belt color used and denotes a degree of competence. Little did Chef Gene imagine that in the culinary field, which he happily chose to be a part of, he would continually be receiving many "black belts" for his great contributions to the F&B industry.


Chef Gene started his passion for cooking at the very early age of five. He vividly remembers growing up in a family of gourmands. His grandmother’s house was always a beehive of busying cooks, preparing food from morning until evening for the stead stream of visitors and family. The kitchen was sufficiently stuffed and staffed! The hand-me-down recipes were strictly "kapangpangan" and the cooks included a full-time manglelechon, a hot kitchen cook, a cold kitchen cook, and a baker. Part of his early apprenticeship included the delivery of baked goodies and cakes to many of their patrons that started as early as five in the morning. He did this before he ran to school at Ateneo de Manila. He did this not as an obligation, but because of his passion!

Before Chef Gene started his career in the culinary field, he was a banker, bonds dealer, and money market trader. He was always the guy in-charge of his company’s events and parties, writing up menus, and planning every detail. On weekends, he would have his officemates in the house for parties, while he took charge of all food and beverage requirements, which he truly enjoyed doing.

1st National Hospitality & Tourism Convention 2013 1st National Hospitality & Tourism Convention 2013
Vic Alcuaz was the keynote speaker in the 1st National Hospitality & Tourism Convention 2013 mounted by the University of Saint La Salle in Bacolod City at the L' Fisher Hotel last October 7.

4th Young Hoteliers & Restaurateurs Power Conference

Vic Alcuaz was recently a guest speaker at the '4th Young Hoteliers & Restaurateurs Power Conference' held at the SMX Convention Center. The other speakers were Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, HRAP President Eugene Yap, Hotelier of Year for 2012 and General Manager of Acacia Hotel Alabang Bobby Horrigan and DLS-CSB Professor Lhorie Velerio.

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