ZaNorte Experience-A A +A
By Ver Pacete
As I See It
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
IT WAS daybreak of October 2 when the RoRo landed at Dapitan Seaport. Delegates from Negros Occidental were there to attend the 13th ATOP National Convention on the theme, “Tourism, a Vehicle for Peace.” The waterfront was calm—no fun fare, no welcome party, and no buses to pick us up. There was only a lonely 3x6 streamer welcoming us. In Roxas City last year, there was a promise that delegates would be welcomed like VIPs by the host. Oh, that promise was broken!
We took the hut-looking tricycle to take us to the convention and exhibition center for registration. Each passenger paid seventy pesos. At 4pm, the Parade of Regions did not materialize. There was a sandstorm, strong wind and heavy rain. The program opened at 6pm and Gov. Rolando Yebes arrived on time. The delegates were in their sparkling regional attire. Welcome dinner turned out to be a lavish soiree. Pork lechon was in endless presentation. Seafood took center stage and the fruits were unlimited—marang, jackfruit, melon, pineapple and mangosteen.
The cultural show was a display of rich tradition and extravagant costumes. We noticed that there were no traffic enforcers in the street and the reception ladies were not there. The next day was a historical tour to Dapitan City and Rizal Shrine. The buses did not come on time as promised. The delegates were already melting and fuming when the first bus arrived. That was for Region VI. It was consistently facilitated by Kenneth Benignos of Diliman Preparatory School for us and for his students.
The attractions were interesting but packed lunch was served late. We were not able to visit souvenir areas. There was no time according to the driver. Our guide said that she was only informed yesterday. We proceeded to Dakak Park and Beach Resort. We were met by a welcome line of school children dancing their native capers, just like what we see in Linggo Ng Lahi Celebration. They are good. The welcome drinks quenched our thirst. The Thai Restaurant looked like a modern Buddhist Temple.
After a long wait, we found out that there were no rooms reserved for us. We stretched our patience and made a sugary negotiation. At last, a cottage good for four persons was given us. That was good. Other delegates were provided a pavilion good for 16 persons—they were packed just like their special sardines. Team building and fun games were at the beach front. Legs came in varied sizes. The hosted dinner was turmoil—very disorderly. Those who reached the buffet table ahead made a quarry of the food. I had a pineapple and coleslaw dinner only. I did not reach the rice and the main course area.
The last day was more exciting. The speakers had their share on topics related to tourism and peace. Lunch had traffic congestion again. As usual there was pork, beef, chicken, chopsuey, cakes, and fruits. Guests were expecting more seafood because Dakak is at the edge of the sea. I saw tuna grilled on one table. I stood by it until I got two slices and that was my lunch. Pineapple (again) came later. Many were complaining because of the congestion. Some enjoyed the crisis and even blew a whistle to make the organizers aware that there was a counter flow. Some toed the line like real ladies and gentlemen. The ATOP officers and guests had their presidential table.
And there came the evening. The beach-front dinner was aborted because of the rain. We all went back to Thai Restaurant. The Pearl Award was thrilling just like the OSCARS. Silay delegation was on Cloud Nine. We won the following awards: Best Tourism- Oriented LGU of the Philippines (Component City Category); Best Tourism Month Celebration; First Runner-Up for Cultural Event, Silay City Christmas Village; and Kansilay Festival was a finalist in the Festival Category. Yours truly received also three trophies because Silay wins national awards in three categories.
That was it. The ATOP Convention at ZaNorte was a halo-halo of hope, joy, irritation, and awards. Life is always like that. It is a bowl full of ingredients. If you happen to be there, choose your taste and color.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on October 10, 2012.