Business Mirror Report: THE province of Capiz emerged as the big winner in the 2013 Pearl Awards, held during the recent 14th National Convention of the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (ATOP) in Legazpi City, Albay province.
The province won the Best Tourism-Oriented Local Government Unit and Best Tourism Month Celebration awards, while the Organization of Tourism Officers of Capiz Inc. was named the Most Outstanding Tourism Officers Club and Capiz provincial tourism officer Alphonsus Tesoro was elected Atop national president for 2014 to 2016.
Inducted into the Pearl Awards’s Hall of Fame were the Sagingan Festival of Tubod town, Lanao del Norte province; the Coco Festival of San Pablo City, Laguna province; and the Mount Ugo Climb of Itogon town, Benguet province. They earned the honor for bagging the top prize in their respective categories for three consecutive years.
The Coco Festival was initiated by then-Mayor Vicente B. Amante of San Pablo in 1996 to commemorate the 400th founding anniversary of the Parish of Saint Paul the First Hermit, the seat of the Diocese of San Pablo.
Garnering top honors in the Best Tourism Event-Sports and Wellness Category for two years in a row were the Ibtor Challenge of Rosales town, Pangasinan province; Adlaw Sang Suba of Sagay City, Negros Occidental province; and La Union Surfing Break in La Union province.
Adjudged the Best Arts and Culture Events for showcasing the Filipinos’ rich cultural heritage were the Kahilwayan Festival of Santa Barbara, Iloilo province; the Kalilangan Festival of General Santos City; and the Two Faces of Lanao del Norte.
The Kalilangan Festival—its name is derived from the word kalilang (“celebration” or “commemoration” in the Maguindanaon dialect)—is held every last week of February to coincide with General Santos City’s founding anniversary celebration. It mainly showcases the city’s history, artistry, cultural heritage and tourism potential.
The Bangkero (Pagsanjan town, Laguna), Sinigayan (Sagay City) and La Laguna (Laguna) festivals were named the country’s best festivals.
Sagay City also earned the judges’ nod for having the Best Tourism-Month Celebration in the City. Silay City, meanwhile, was named Best Tourism-Oriented City, while city tourism officer Severino Pacete bagged the Most Outstanding Tourism Officer award.
Event partner Diliman Preparatory School gave its first Eco-Environmental Tourism Awards to A December to Remember of Kabayan town, Benguet, and the Coral Rosary Beads of Albay for their environmentally relevant tourism projects.
According to Atop President Miguel Sison, the Pearl Awards recognizes local government units’ best practices in tourism and serves as a benchmark for tourism programs.
The convention, which had “Strengthening Local Governance through Tourism Development” at its theme, dealt with strategies in mainstreaming tourism promotion in local government programs, based on Republic Act 9593, or the Tourism Act of 2009.
It gathered some 1,300 provincial, municipal, tourism officers, mayors, barangay officials and local legislators in charge of tourism committees.
Bacolod City in Negros Occidental will host the next Atop convention in 2014.