Roxas City (May 02)-CAPIZ has remained the country’s seafood capital – and much, much more.
Its recent Capiztahan festival, the first to be jointly organized by the local government and the private sector, showcased the province as an attractive tourist, cultural and economic hub.
The festival on April 15-17 marked Capiz’s 110th foundation day and the 63rd death anniversary of President Manuel Roxas, who died on April 15, 1948.
One of the main events was the unveiling of a historical marker at the statue of Roxas at the plaza of Roxas City, the capital, on April 15. The statue has been declared a national monument by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.
Tens of thousands of spectators and guests flocked to the festivities held at the People’s Park along the beach. The restaurants served the province’s famed oysters, fish, shells, prawns and shrimps, and other seafood which were cooked to guests’ preference.
Held for three days were feasts of seafood, including the sought-after diwal (angel wings shell) in the fishponds and homes of Capiz Representative Antonio del Rosario and businesswoman and political matriarch Judy Araneta-Roxas.
Roxas Vice Mayor Ronnie Dadivas said an estimated 70,000 residents and guests crammed the main streets of the city to witness the first-ever “Parade of Lights.” Thirty floats depicting sea creatures in colorful lights passed through the main streets from the plaza to the beach.
Architect Terry Gavino, who designed most of the floats, said around one million small, colored light bulbs were used.
Spectators lined up for at least four hours to watch the parade, which culminated on Arnaldo Boulevard. Their unprecedented number overwhelmed traffic enforcers, forcing city and provincial officials to help direct vehicular flow.
Private sector’s role
Organizers credited the success of the festival to the strong cooperation of local officials and the private sector.
Former social welfare secretary Lina Laigo, president of United Capizeños Foundation (One Capiz), said businessmen donated funds and natives now living in Manila volunteered to help.
Laigo said the foundation, formed four months ago, aimed at promoting the province as a center of culture and a major tourist attraction.
Roxas said the partnership of the private sector and the local government units was an expression of the public-private partnership (PPP) policy of President Aquino. “It was easier to organize because everybody was united and working well in every level from the government to the volunteers,” she said.
“The Capiztahan is just a byproduct. The real objective is to work together to help the people. If more people know about Capiz, commerce will move faster which will benefit the people,” Roxas said.
She said the province had a lot to offer more than its famed seafood.
Tourism regional director Edwin Trompeta said this year’s festival was more significant than before because the events and activities helped raise public awareness about the greatness of Capiz’s people and their contribution to the country.
While the local economy is mainly based on agriculture and fishing, the province’s rich resources and strategic location offer other economic opportunities, said Jose Nery Ong, president of the Capiz Halaran Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The province can be developed as a major ecotourism destination because it is the closest province to Aklan where the world-famous Boracay Island is.
Capiz can also be an industrial, service and logistics hub for northern Panay servicing the northern towns of Iloilo, Capiz and Aklan.
Real estate industry is booming, buoyed by remittances of overseas Filipino workers and commercial investments, said Ong, chief executive officer of Sacred Heart of Jesus Prime Holdings Inc.
The company is developing Pueblo de Panay, a 200-hectare mix-use complex seen as “a city within a city.” Launched last year, the project includes commercial centers, a hospital, medical and educational facilities, a 100-room hotel, two subdivisions with 400 housing units and a 3-kilometer highway with six lanes, a bicycle lane and foot walk.
The highway will connect two parallel highways traversing the city.
“Business prospects in the province are bright and we have the talent and resources to develop Capiz as a major economic center,” Ong said.
Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:31:00 04/30/2011