How does one switch from the world of IT to becoming the “chief entertainment officer” of the country’s only world-class theme park? Apparently for Cynthia Mamon, it was a decision that wasn’t hard to make. It does help that the family owns the business, but she stated that when the time came, it was a job she happily undertook. Mamon is the chief operating officer of the family-owned Enchanted Kingdom Inc. (EK), a theme park based in Sta. Rosa Laguna, built with a theme of a magical and enchanted world.
Mamon was formerly CEO of Sun Microsystems Philippines, a joint venture between her family and the US-based Sun Microsystems in 1992. Years later, her family sold their shares in the company but Cynthia retained her position as president and managing director. Under her stewardship, Sun Microsystems was awarded huge contracts in both the private and public sectors, including the World Bank-funded Tax Computerization Project with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Her company also provided systems integration to major corporations in the telecommunications, banking, and manufacturing industries and in health services. Her numerous achievements in the IT field eventually earned her the award “One of the Most Powerful Women in the Information Industry in the Philippines.”
In October 2008, she decided to officially join her husband Mario, who is president and chairman of Enchanted Kingdom, in managing full-time the operations of the theme park, as head of corporate planning and business development. She currently holds the position of vice president for the SMILE division and COO of the company. Together, the husband-and-wife tandem grew their business from a fledgling company into what is now a theme park with standards that are comparable to the best in the world.
Recently, their company unveiled their newest attraction, the 7D Interactive Motion Theater, which provides thrilling and “almost real-life” experiences for its viewers. In a press conference, Mamon says they have adopted the highly popular zombies theme for 7D Interactive which, she says, families will absolutely enjoy. According to her, this latest addition is but part of the medium-term development they have laid out for their expansion program. Mamon says they are also eagerly looking forward to the upcoming Asean integration in 2015. “The Asean integration also coincides with our 20th year of operations for Enchanted Kingdom in October next year. We have so much plans to make it a truly magical event.” Mamon adds they will have another “surprise ride” by October in time for their 19th year celebration.
Mamon also says she and her husband are part of the Tourism Congress, which is the private sector voice organized to support the development of tourism in the country. “In our own little way through Enchanted Kingdom, we hope we can invite also the foreign tourists to come to the Philippines.” Part of the plan includes the construction of a water park hotel within EK’s much expanded premises. As for expansion in other places in the country, Mamon says, “We must admit there are a lot of groups that have approached us and we are seriously considering their proposals on a partnership basis.” She says the local expansion could happen in as little as two to three years’ time, depending on the local partners. “We appreciate the fact that they approached us. It means that they look at us as leaders of the industry, and yes, we study the industry and are very willing to help other businesses in other parts of the country to develop similar attractions as Enchanted Kingdom,” she adds. Mamon also stated that they have formed the Philippine Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (PhilApa), the national association in their industry which was formed to further solidify their support for Philippine tourism.
Despite the overwhelming challenges in aggressively expanding their capital-intensive amusement park business, Mamon says they have currently no plans of tapping the stock market as a way to raise more funds. “We have partners who prefer the company to remain private for now, and it’s more controllable.”
These days, she says the company is more aggressive than ever in putting all their expansion targets in place. This means putting in more than the required number of hours that she would normally put on a regular workday. But she doesn’t mind, she says, because in the end she believes all their efforts will bear fruit. After all, they are in the business of making people happy, she says, while helping the country’s tourism as well, by putting in more meaning to the country’s tourism line “It’s more fun in the Philippines.” Indeed, she believes that with a little help from the Enchanted Kingdom’s resident wizard, their vision will turn into reality in no time at all.