October 27, 2004 (STAR) By Rose G. De La Cruz - From the outside, the nine-hectare Meralco Management and Leadership Development Center in Antipolo looks like a weekend home of a prosperous man.

Thatís understandable, since the property used to be the vacation home cum orchard of Ambassador Valdez before it was purchased in 1999 by Manila Electric Co.

"Nothing was touched. Not a single tree, the swimming pool nor the original building," said Arthur Luis Florentin, executive director of MMLDC Foundation, Inc., which runs the center. "We have deliberately maintained a learning ambience that enhances and, at the same time, supplements the learning experience of our clients."

In its first two years of operations, 80% of the centerís bookings came from Meralco. Since 2001, the bulk of the centerís business now comes from the pharmaceutical and IT companies in search of a venue to hold their workshops, team-building exercises, and conventions. Last year, the center had 450 bookings compared to the previous yearís 320.

"We expect a 15% growth in bookings this year," said Florentin.

The peak booking period is from August to October, which coincides with the planning workshops of companies for the next year. The slack period is during summer or from March to May when companies sponsor outings to the beach or to the mountains. To encourage more business during the lean days of Sunday to Wednesday, the center offers a 10% discount on bookings.

"To beef up sales during the lean months, we launched last year social packages for people who want to have alternative and non-traditional venues for important personal events such as weddings and customized birthday packages for children, complete with activities like face painting sessions, magic shows, and a trip to the zoo plus balloons and bubble shows. This has proven to be very popular," said Ernesto Fresnido, customer communication head of MMLDCFI and director of the Antipolo Tourism Council.

Conducive To Learning

The center is certified both by the International Standards Organization and the Philippine Council for NGO Certification as a non-profit educational institution.

" Facilities, equipment, and technology help create a climate conducive to learning. All our facilities are designed to support discovery leanings and total development. Our service culture manifests our advocacy to customer service, technical excellence, good governance, environment conservation, and social responsibility. The centerís natural environment refreshes the body, mind, and spirit. The works of art enables one to enjoy the finer things in life and, at the same time, realize that one can actually contribute towards enhancing life," said Florentin.

MMLDC is divided into halls. The Academic Hall has 13 classrooms of varying capacity and designs. The largest room, named after benefactor Asea Brown Bovery, is 195 square meters and can seat 250 participants. The smallest of five lecture rooms can sit 20 participants. The hall also has three computer rooms, a conference room with videoconferencing facilities, a fully equipped business center, library, a museum, and an education technology suite, which supports the production of multi-media packages.

At any time, the Residence Hall can house 156 guests and 24 faculty members or trainors. The hall has its own chapel, clinic, lounge, and a fully equipped gym complete with safe boxes for the convenience of guests.

Not too far away is the Food Hall and other attractions such a creativity hall where guests are encouraged to explore their artistic and creative side, a grotto for mediation, an aviary and mini zoo, putting green, basketball court, and paintball area.


"Amid such an ambience, the center maintains a basket of course offerings that can readily be customized to suit the specific needs of our clients. To better serve our clients, we have encouraged our people to pursue continuing education and development," said Florentin.

Aside from corporate clients, the center has also reached out to its immediate community. This year, for example, it has lined up a series of teaching and learning methodology sessions for public school teachers, trainors from electric cooperatives, and selected officials of the National Electrification Administration.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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