A story of resilience and recovery in all its glory

It was the night before the highly anticipated Megaworld Ironman 70.3 – the first time the sporting event has taken place in two years – and the excitement was palpable around the venue in Mactan Newton, Cebu. Add to that the boisterous celebrations at Mactan Alfresco, the community’s hub for authentic local delicacies, as Cebu’s Lechon Festival also returned for the first time since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Graham Coates, Head of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, with Megaworld Ironman 70.3 competitors at the Cebu Lechon Festival.

It was such a festive and joyful weekend starting August here in Cebu that it was hard to believe that the Megaworld community and surrounding areas in Mactan were not only feeling the effects of the pandemic but more importantly the devastating disaster Super Typhoon recovered Odette in December 2021.

“When you consider what happened to this area after Odette and you consider where we are, it’s quite an amazing story how we’ve been able to bounce back,” Graham Coates, head of Megaworld Lifestyle Malls, told Lifestyle Media who had visited the community earlier month.

Former PBB roommate Paul Jake Castillo with Megaworld's Avinash Menon and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown general manager Josef Chiongbian.

Former PBB roommate Paul Jake Castillo with Megaworld’s Avinash Menon and Savoy Hotel Mactan Newtown general manager Josef Chiongbian.

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He went on to describe how he saw the property shortly after the typhoon hit the Visayas: “The place was really devastated, trees were uprooted, glass panes were broken, no electricity, no water. In the first few weeks after Odette, people really had a hard time. Luckily things are back to normal now. “

And what better demonstration of the community’s rise from the proverbial ashes than having the two events run concurrently.

The Megaworld Ironman 70.3 alone attracted more than 2,000 participants (not counting their families and non-participating teammates and coaches) from 46 countries. Add to this the locals who attended the Lechon Festival, which featured 10 Cebuano lechoneros.

“Not only are we recovering from Odette, we’re also recovering from a pandemic, so that gives us a lot of inspiration. Having two big events is an achievement,” said Coates.

Overall winner August Benedikto

Overall winner August Benedikto

Road to the Iron Man

Hosting the first Ironamn 70.3 in two years was no easy task. After all, the prestigious sporting event has its high standards to ensure the quality of the race and the comfort and safety of all participants.

In addition, Mactan Newtown, who was recovering at the time, was notified at short notice.

“We only had a three-month notice period [Ironman] We weren’t sure if we’d take it because we were still making the repairs, but we saw it as a challenge and took it. It was a really big effort from both sides,” revealed Coates.

He also emphasized that in addition to the two parties, the cooperation of the local government also made a significant contribution to the successful holding of the Ironman.

“So it’s really a story of recovery and resilience, not just for us [Megaworld] as a group, but the full resilience of the Cebuanos and how they have embraced what we are doing. This is the greatest event of all time.”

From one participant’s perspective, former Pinoy Big Brother roommate and Cebuano-based businessman Paul Jake Castillo seemed to agree.

Castillo competed in Ironman races year after year and hasn’t missed a single race in Cebu since 2014, until a pandemic forced him to do so.

For this edition he was scheduled to swim, cycle and run like the other participants, but a month ago he fell ill with Covid-19 and had to abandon his original plan. Nevertheless, he did not miss the event and instead decided to finish the 90-kilometer bike path.

“This year isn’t about winning or finishing, it’s about getting everything back to normal,” Castillo said in a separate interview.

looking ahead

Of course, the road to recovery didn’t end when the last competitor crossed the finish line of the Ironman race.

“Because we’ve built a wonderful facility and don’t want to lose the momentum we’ve gained, we’re going to maximize what we already have. Our events group is already developing ideas on how we can have it all. year-round activities,” affirmed Coates, adding that they are positioning Mactan Newtown as a sports, leisure and tourism community.

On the practical side, Coates also acknowledged that while Odette was already behind them, Super Typhoon might not be the last to devastate their community. With that, he assured that Megaworld has taken measures to prepare for coming typhoons.

First, the company has invested in its own weather monitoring system. Using data analysis and technology, each community would receive detailed weather alerts on a daily basis.

Second, they’ve updated their designs to better prepare for typhoons. “We are implementing lessons learned from previous typhoons. For example the thickness of the glass and the position of the main window. So we try to develop preventive design to avoid future problems.”

“We can’t prevent a typhoon, but we can prepare for it,” Coates said.

About Mike Crayton

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