The 10-day annual celebration of Negros Oriental’s Buglasan Festival of Festivals reeled off yesterday with an ecumenical service preceding the awarding ceremony of the Outstanding Oriental Negrenses, followed by the coronation of the Miss Negros Oriental Tourism.
The 2014 Outstanding Oriental Negrenses are Marcelino Maxino in the field of law and jurisprudence; and Bayawan City Mayor German Sarana, who was honored posthumously, in government service. Sarana succumbed to cancer at age 68 at the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City last month.
Meanwhile, 13 candidates were vying for the title of Miss Negros Oriental Tourism at the Benigno S. Aquino Freedom Park stage in Dumaguete City as of press time yesterday.
Buglasan’s theme, “Community Development Through Tourism”, was adopted from the theme of the World Tourism Month celebrated in September, as the flourishing tourism industry in Negros Oriental today is a far cry from its situation some 10 years ago.
“At that time, we regarded tourism in the province as a ‘sunrise industry.’ Today, our tourism is as clear as day in the regional and national picture, and even in the international market,” Gov. Roel Degamo said.
He added that more and more tourists are taking notice and are coming to Negros Oriental to experience the assets that the people have worked so hard to develop. Degamo said these include Lake Balanan in Siaton, Twin Lakes Balinsasayao and Danao in Sibulan, the caves of Mabinay, Apo Island in Dauin, and the mountain resorts in Valencia.
“What is remarkable in these developments is that many of the local government officials have made great strides to ensure that these places are worth visiting, such as the White Sandbar in Manjuyod, the Mantalip Reef in Bindoy, the Mangrove Walk in Tanjay, the Baslay Hot Springs, the Mabinay Spring, and many other attractions,” Degamo said.
He said tourism and community development should go hand in hand. “When we develop our tourism assets, we also educate the residents, spur the growth of micro and medium enterprises, provide jobs, and develop the community in the process.”
With the possibility of a lucrative career in tourism and hospitality management, Degamo also noted that today, most of the universities and colleges in Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental, offer courses in tourism, hotel and restaurant management, and culinary arts. The construction boom seen in the province is a result of the growing influx of visitors, providing employment opportunities to the people.
Degamo recalled what one technocrat said was the comparative advantage of Negros Oriental and said that the development of tourism among local communities is perceived as fitting with the natural process of development based on comparative advantage. He said Negros Oriental has this comparative advantage when it comes to tourism because of its unique natural assets.
He challenged the LGUs “to make tourism not just a sunshine, but a major industry earner in the province.”
Board Member Mariant Villegas, co-director general of Buglasan, said the provincial government allotted P3.5 million for the festivities, with a subsidy of P100,000 for each LGU putting up gimmick booths, and another P100,000 for those joining the showdown and street dance competitions.
Dr. Nichol Elman, co-director general and security-in-charge of Buglasan, echoed the call of Degamo for all Negrenses to enjoy the events.
Now on its 13 th year, Buglasan is celebrated on the fourth Friday of October each year through a resolution of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan. Malacañang has declared October 24 a special non-working holiday in Negros Oriental.
All the shows and competitions are free of charge, except for the festival showdown on October 24 starting 8 a.m. at the Lamberto Macias Sports and Cultural Complex that will charge a minimal fee of P5 each person.*