To put things in perspective, I have to say that I only went to the World Food Expo 2007 on August 4, a Saturday. I acknowledge that my experience can be chalked up to an unfortunate set of circumstances and is probably quite different from the first few days. Still, I also believe that proper planning and foresight could’ve avoided the disaster that was Day 4, so I’ll nevertheless write about it.
Because we both have work, my mother and I decided to go to the WOFEX on the last day. We were originally planning to be there by 10am but due to some delays (mostly my fault) we ended up getting there a little before lunch time. As we were crossing the street, I started to wonder why there was a thick crowd outside the World Trade Center. I was also surprised to see large buses dropping off large crowds. I thought there was another event at one of the other halls. Until we got closer and realized that they weren’t letting ANYONE in, and that the crowds outside are actually WOFEX visitors who weren’t being let inside!
No one was telling us anything outside. We managed to corner an exhibitor who stepped out and he said the only way to get in was to get a postcard from exhibitors, who are, ironically, inside. Tough, the way the cookie crumbles, huh? Still, my mom was dauntless. We drove all the way there, we had to get in. As we were squirming through the crowd, I saw a handwritten sign that confirmed what the man saidâ€”only those with stickers and invites (the said postcards) could get in. That definitely earned a big WTF from me, coupled with muffled yet crisp swearing. What earned the ire of other people who were also there was the fact that this â€œinvite onlyâ€ thing was NEVER mentioned in any of their posters and print ads.
Still, we were able to wiggle our way in, along with other people who insistently pushed until they got in. Icky thing, really, much like squeezing into an already full MRT during rush hour.
More mayhem ensued, as it was very confusing inside. When we finally found the registration line, it was so long, despite there being four lines. Thirty minutes after we got in the building, we finally managed to finish registration. The crowds outside? Still depressingly thick. When we got inside, we saw a big streamer with the scheds. It appears that they only allowed schools to visit on the last day. Sure, it was a good idea to keep the first few days exclusive for tradespeople since thatâ€™s the expoâ€™s real target, but limiting schools to the last day brought about an extraordinary amount of people visiting! What about people like us who go there just because of a genuine interest in food? What, weâ€™re not allowed in just because we couldnâ€™t afford to skip work and go on an earlier, less congested date when they donâ€™t limit it to invites?
And schools! I donâ€™t get why the schools would insist on doing field trips / requiring their students to go! I mean, I understand schools with Hotel & Restaurant Management courses. Itâ€™s their thing. The MAFBEX was even co-sponsored by DLSU-CSB, a school. But schools whose courses have no relevance at all? I mean, we were in line and college students were more interested in that eveningâ€™s gimmick, rather than what was in store for them. Schools! Donâ€™t force your students to go if theyâ€™re not genuinely interested! They only crowd out people who really want to be there.
It just left a bad taste in my mouth which totally tainted my WOFEX day. And to think I was looking forward to it months ago. I do hope that they learn from this yearâ€™s logistic nightmare and do better next year.