[PHOTO AT LEFT: OPENING NIGHT: President Arroyo is welcomed by STAR president/CEO Miguel G. Belmonte and EVP Grace Glory Go during cocktails sponsored by The STAR at Camp John Hay's Manor for the opening of 18th Philippine Advertising Congress last night. Also in photo is Eugenio Lopez III, president/CEO of ABS-CBN. - Fernan Nebres ]

BAGUIO CITY (via Bayantel), November 20, 2003  (STAR) By Ann Corvera — The 18th Philippine Advertising Congress was off to a "rosy" start as delegates encountered smooth sailing in signing up for the much-awaited event here in the City of Pines.

Amid a nippy climate, delegates were handed welcome roses from The Philippine STAR, which doubled as an invitation for the night’s opening cocktail party.

Without further ado, advertising practitioners, suppliers, and eager beavers from academe swarmed registration booths at the newly built CAP Convention Center at Camp John Hay.

"Smooth," was how delegates described the computerized registration process.

In spite of the long journey to this city, delegates patiently waited in line to get their IDs, Ad Congress kits and a lot of freebies from event sponsors.

STAR president and CEO Miguel G. Belmonte, who also chairs the Ad Congress PR & publicity committee, was among the early birds who made a beeline to the registration desks. The STAR is the only broadsheet among the platinum sponsors of this much-anticipated event.

Departing from previous ad congresses that were marked by mayhem due to last-minute technical glitches, this year’s registration gave delegates and participants a lot of elbow room.

As early as 8 a.m., delegates were upbeat and raring to take part in the activities lined up for them during the three-day powwow.

Meanwhile, even before cocktails were served at the Manor Garden, it was apparent that The STAR — as a major league sponsor — would pull out all the stops.

The STAR’s sister publication, Pilipino Star Ngayon, is also the only tabloid to sponsor the event.

"But of course, all this would not have been possible if our beloved friends and advertisers had not given us their trust and confidence," Belmonte said in his remarks at the opening cocktails.

The cocktails, held at the Manor Garden at Camp John Hay’s Manor Hotel at 6 last night, was a "comedy and acoustic night" all rolled into one with guest stars Boy Abunda, Paolo Santos, Nina, and the Boxers with K making it an ad congress night to remember.

President Arroyo flew in yesterday to grace today’s formal opening ceremonies of the congress and to inaugurate the trade exhibit area showcasing sponsors’ booths and creative ideas.

Also today, the first of a series of lectures from seasoned practitioners begins with renowned advertising author and creative director Jim Aitchison expounding on "Big Ideas in Advertising."

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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