A green summer in Cebu



When you suddenly feel the urge to have a tall glass of iced lemongrass tea or you suddenly want a salad for lunch instead of soup, it must be summertime! The body indeed tells us when it is so.

Around the country you might find the temperature slightly higher in Cebu City as has been my experiences for many years. Maybe it’s the combination of their urban development and their choice of construction materials, the absence of trees and the general landscape that lends to a seemingly hotter metropolis.

I always pack light when going to the queen city of the south. Linens, cottons, and other light clothing are more appropriate in our generally tropical country where everyone should really dress light and cool all the time.

However, many hotels and meeting rooms still draw the curtains to darkness, turn the air-conditioning full blast and have everyone of the ladies bring out the now ubiquitous Pashmina scarves or the men bring jackets and blazers. What an irony! We are in 29 degree weather and we dress in meetings as if it’s 18 degrees outside.

So it was a pleasant surprise for me to be at this meeting of the German Agency for Cooperation or GIZ and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) where the program Promotion on Green Development (ProGED) was discussed. I was invited to talk about “Green Markets” and how there is just so much going on in our space of locavores, farm-to-table restaurants, and sustainable small organic farms.

I also had the chance to listen to the presentation of the Chief Engineer and HR Training Manager of Radisson Blu Hotel in Cebu as they proudly presented their green awards and their journey to reap such accolades. I now understand better why this hotel reaped such citations. They practice or use the ff:

1. LED lights instead of fluorescent bulbs. The energy consumption is lower even if the investment on LED bulbs is a bit higher.

2. They use aerator faucets. When you leave that faucet running while you brush your teeth you waste a lot of water. But if the habit is hard to kick, this hotel at least allows you only 50 percent waste. Half of what comes from the faucet is air plus water. Ingenious.

3. The meeting rooms are provided with water glasses, not plastic mineral water in bottles (they still have to solve the water bottles used in the Business Lounge and Executive floors). But I appreciate the effort in teaching people not to waste water in bottles (many are left half filled, a lot of plastic is wasted).

4. They are conscious of energy efficiency of their chillers and air conditioning that they are making a substantial investment in a new improved air chiller which will cost a hefty P20 million. But payback or ROI has been computed and the management has given the go signal.

That’s just for starters. Guess what I found on my pillow before turning in—what hotels call a “turn down gift”—a jar of calamansi balm to soothe. But the beautiful thing is that it was packed in a repurposed jam bottle or jar. The little jars they use at breakfast for jam and portion pack honey. What a splendid idea!

Now , if only all hotels had this mindset. What a green tourism destination we would become.

I take my hat off to this hotel. Truly it differentiates from the other hotels in its class. You may not notice at first that it is a green hotel . . . call it humility. But in this day and age I think you must remind people that you are doing all you can to be green. So a note is in order to Radisson to shout it out that they are doing all these green efforts.

Maybe there are still things to be tweaked—like hotel amenities which can be more organic and locally-sourced for instance. But generally, it is on its way to becoming a green standard.

I truly enjoyed my stay at Radisson Blu because I learned of its efforts to go green, besides its wonderful service philosophy. I remember watching a feature on Marriott and Ritz Carlton on Bloomberg. Service is truly their equity and their differentiator. “My pleasure,” the staff always say to you. Like they really want to be of service to everyone.

This ain’t no Ritz, but I enjoyed the service just the same. Kudos to the GM Nishan Silva who I did not have a pleasure to meet. But soon as I met the staff I was glad to see and hear the training manager. No wonder their standards for service are high.

Before I digress into service, let me end this by giving my hand to the management for their green efforts. May all our hotels follow suit and make this a cooler world through greening even if we are in Cebu and even when it’s already summer.

Now give me another round of iced lemongrass tea!


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