Susan Del Mundo: Serving the Philippines for Nearly Four Decades

Susan Del Mundo has dedicated at least three decades of her life to public service. Today, she is  happily looking forward to more years of serving Filipinos and promoting the Philippines.

For almost 36 years in public service, particularly in the Department of Tourism (DOT), Del Mundo has acquired sufficient skills, exposure, knowledge and expertise in handling both organizational and management functions—ranging from finance and budgeting, marketing and promotions, planning and research, business development and other related areas of operations—that produced significant accomplishments and contributions in high-impact tourism programs both local and foreign.

This unassuming woman has dedicated her life in promoting Philippine tourism to the point of, as she jokingly remarks, forgetting to get herself a husband.

“Ang tagal ko na sa industriyang ito. Thirty six years. I’m 50 plus years old Nakalimutan ko nang mag-asawa. (I have been in this industry for so long. Thirty six years. I’m 50 plus years old now and forgot to get myself married),” Del Mundo said, followed by a laugh.

She added that during the peak of her career, work occupied most of her waking hours.

“I do the bookkeeping at night and attend meetings in the morning. And on weekends, I either attend gatherings or rest. That’s it,” Del Mundo said in Filipino.

However, she never regretted how things turned out since she enjoys being single and that her friends never let her feel that she needed to look for a boyfriend or a husband to fill the void.

“When it comes, it comes. I’m enjoying,” she said smiling.

Inspiration: Essential For Both Leaders And Followers

Today, Del Mundo is the outgoing Officer-in-Charge of the Domestic Tourism of DOT and the incoming Tourism Attaché for the DOT in New York.

For years, Del Mundo has been practicing management by example. Her style is one that involves making every member of the team a contributor of the vision and mission.

“It is important to for me to see my team proud and inspired of what they are doing,” Del Mundo said.

Her work ethic revolves around demonstrating requisite skills, attitude and knowledge in any given endeavor. In doing so,  her  staff would show the same dedication and perseverance that she performs. Aside from this, as much a possible, she wants to be  hands-on in any project to ensure that no areas of concern is being bypassed and neglected.

“I may be at times perfectionist to the point of maximizing results to achieve excellence but somehow along the way I must learn to accept that there are boundaries and limitations that cannot be cons,” Del Mundo said.

As a leader, she constantly affirms and advocates good team leadership and hands-on approach as key components in bringing qualitative and quantitative results and benefits.

“I’m more of a doer, someone who is always behind the scenes,” she mused, revealing how she always shun publicity.

Just as how she inspires her subordinates, it is also inspiration that led her to follow the footsteps of her father.

Del Mundo recounted how she admired her father since her younger days.

“When I was a child, I admired my father as a very respectable, well-liked and humble public servant,” said Del Mundo, whose father used to be the auditor of DOT.

Since then, her father became her  model and inspiration, encouraging her  to follow his footsteps.

“That is the reason I took an Accounting course and passed the Accountancy Board Exams. Reaching this goal was a dream come true,” she exclaimed.

Del Mundo has always  aspired for a challenging job that could greatly contribute to the  country.

After graduating with a degree in Accountancy, she applied at the Philippine Convention Bureau (PCB), now known as DOT.

This was during the Marcos era, where tourism, according to Del Mundo, was aggressive mainly because of the conventional centers and international hotels that were put up to cater to international events.

“Working for the tourism government for at least three  decades has been my lifeblood and my passion,” she said with contentment in her eyes.    

“I may have other career options being an accountant by profession, a business executive, an academician by practice or may opt to be an events specialist for that matter but I chose not to. I love my country so much that I realized how beautiful and wonderful it is to feel  proud of being a Filipino and take pride in the wonders of what our country has to offer,” she said without any hint of regret.

Significant Achievements For Domestic Promotions

As the Head of Domestic Promotions Department, she has actively contributed in implementing and pioneering projects that have heaped multifaceted rewards and have successfully helped its beneficiaries.

“Most of these projects were the Grassroots Entrepreneurship for Eco Tourism (GREET) program conceived to support eco-tourism livelihood projects in areas needing both financial and technical assistance to sustain the community’s economic growth. Before its turn over to DOT, we were able to assist more than 500 proponents in establishing small-scale industries to augment their income,” she shared.

Del Mundo was also the brain behind the various heritage tours (such as in Cordilleras, Intramuros/Manila, etc.), historical tours (i.e. on the Road to Freedom and Corregidor), and promotions of new tourism destinations and packages, among others.

The hosting of one of the most prestigious tourism bodies, the ASEAN Tourism Forum attended by no less than 2,000 ASEAN delegates  in  2006 and most recent in 2016, produced positive results in bringing about income and extensive mileage for the Philippines. Both events earned the DOT favorable remarks and accolades having diligently served its hosting.

On the international front, the World Expo Zaragoza held in Spain in 2008 awarded the Philippines as the best in “Small-scale exhibitions” with the theme”Filipinas, El Mundo Acuatico” putting the Philippines as one of the world’s promising eco-tourism destination in the world. At the same time, preparatory work to the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010 have again proven worthy of praise and standing.

The Ambassador’s Meet in coordination with the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) held yearly and the Winter Escapade meant to promote the country’s bests among the Filipino-Americans and Filipino-Canadians,  are considered pivotal projects that have encouraged the Filipinos outside the Philippines  to revisit their home country.

“These and many more have in a way, brought laurels and accolades befitting of a tourism  industry serving as formidable pillar of our economy,” said del Mundo.

Goals for the Remaining Days as Officer-in-Charge of Domestic Promotions Department

For her remaining days as the Officer–in-Charge of Domestic Promotions Department, Del Mundo hopes to establish the TPB Membership program; Marketing Seminar on Destination Branding for all the regions; production of Regional Brochures, Calendar of Philippine Events; marketing new tourism destinations, and; strengthen the Balikbayan program. Overall, she emphasized  the need for constant collaboration with both public and private sectors as well as empowering local communities.

Philippine Domestic Tourism Status

De Mundo shared that  the Philippines,  in terms of domestic tourism has  a “very promising upswing” in terms of promotion.

According to her, “Under the able stewardship of Tourism Sec. Wanda Teo and as inspired by the administration of Pres. Duterte, I could casually say that the green light is always on when it comes to the free flowing of projects geared towards promotional efforts for domestic tourism.”

She also acknowledged the combined collective efforts both from the government and the private sector coming from airlines, allied tourism services, regional tourism offices, local government units, pro-active tourism organizations, travel media practitioners, travel bloggers, and its constituents which  immensely contributed to the solid stature tourism now enjoys.

The  new generation of travel seekers and adventurers  gave credence to Philippine tourism and served as an eventual paradigm shift where travelling to the Philippines is no longer strictly confined to the privileged few but able to reach out to all Filipinos. Traveling has now become an affordable and indispensable priority for individuals and families.

The Incoming Tourism Attache for the Department of Tourism of the Philippines based in New York City

Del Mundo is not new to overseas posts, however, she regards her upcoming post  as the “more challenging” one.

“Having dutifully worked for overseas posts in the previous years, more specifically in London, UK for almost four years, accepting this NY post is no longer new to me except that the area is more challenging, diverse and unique requiring me to be more open, sensitive  and adaptive due its complexities inherent in a thriving and vibrant market,“ she explained.

She went further saying, “I humbly expressed my genuine desire to DOT to serve the country best by being assigned in no less than I consider as highly challenging and demanding center of commerce and trade in one of the world’s bustling city, New York.”

New York, nonetheless, is the hub of international associations and Meeting, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions/Events (MICE) markets, among others. The DOT New York Office covers US East Coast, US Midwest and Eastern Canada. Luxury markets especially the Caucasians will be tapped and wholesaling the Philippines through the promotion for special interest tours as well as to collaborate tour operators, media, corporate executive, incentive houses, influential personalities, groups and associations will be undertaken.

Furthermore, Del Mundo assures Filipinos that she’ll dutifully exercise her duties and responsibilities as officer and front liner of the Philippine tourism industry outside the country.

“I have given my best in the past, it will be far more rewarding to share my wholehearted support and conviction in realizing that by serving the interest of tourism best I have served the Philippines and the Filipinos more,” she cheerfully said.

Mission and Vision

In direct consonance with the over-all tourism development plan of the Department of Tourism, the PDOT-NY works synchronously hand-in-hand in achieving its goals and objectives.

“Our vision is to establish the PDOT-NY as one of the key marketing office of the Dept. of Tourism that will lead in aggressively positioning  the Philippines as a  much favored and preferred tourism destination in Asia,” Del Mundo said

“Our mission is to carry-out an intensified and integrated promotional program that complements all areas covered by PDOT-New York such as U.S. East Coast, U.S. Midwest and Eastern Canada,” she added.

Del Mundo aims to make a bigger share in the arrivals from America and to heighten awareness, appreciation and cooperation in target markets.

“Together with my colleagues in San Francisco and Los Angeles, we would like to make America as number one or top source of arrivals to the Philippines,” Del Mundo explained.

On Facing Obstacles

Indeed, victories can be achieved by overcoming challenges. For Susan, she doesn’t care if a task is a daring one. For her, she would just gladly let the challenge flow.

“In my honest opinion, I believe the success of any particular project or program for that matter can be measured in terms of its ability to confront and overcome challenges,” said Del Mundo.

She explained that every  program or project comes with hindrances and obstacles that comes along the way.

“I always anticipate those challenges in all our endeavors and come up with workable solutions based on existing government rules and regulations and most beneficial to the Philippine tourism industry,” she explained.

With a background in crisis management, she said there will always be room for contingencies  and fall back solutions to pitfalls and drawback of whatever gravity.

“We will  always be ready at all times when the situation warrants remedial actions to be pursued. Vigilance then, becomes the order of the day at all costs in whatever means provided it is in pursuit of the best interest of the government,” del Mundo shared.

Typical Day As A Tourism Practitioner

For someone who couldn’t afford  to lose a single second  doing something unworthy, she explains how she wanted to find fulfillment in her  everyday life at work and personal quality time with family and friends.

“Time is a gift from God and so precious to me. A typical day cannot be productive if there are no results, “ Del Mundo, who normally spends more than the eight hours a day working, said.

“Being a tourism practitioner is a challenging and tough job especially if you are entrusted the full responsibility of carrying-it out given the resources,” shared Del Mundo

She recounted how along the way,  she met several drawbacks and how her accountability was put to test. She said, “And as a leader I know where I stand. Still it did not waver my faith neither to give up.”

“All these years, I realized that for once in my life, along the way I will leave footprints of myself, the person that I really am . Sometimes misunderstood, oftentimes miscalculated but deeply immersed in dedicating myself  to be of great service for the love of tourism, to feel proud for the country I belong, earn that dignity of simply becoming a public servant in my own little way,” Del Mundo concluded.

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