NEGROS Occidental is sugar and tourism. Sugar gives us life and sugar begets tourism ... sugar-based delicacies, sugar-based history, sugar-based politics, sugar-based religion, sugar-based Cinco de Noviembre Revolution. Fuse all of them together and what we get is sugary tourism.

Governor Bong Lacson, a descendant of General Aniceto Lacson, is a tourism champion. When he was mayor of San Carlos City, he made a "Big Bong" in the Pinta Flores Festival. His tourism officer, the late Oskee Cornelio, would invite us to be there for not less than three days to judge varied tourism activities. The good Mayor Bong was all there all the time. He even invited

us in his hacienda house for tittle-tattle on his governance.

He was elected vice governor and now he is governor. His tourism ingenuity based on his command in the industry will bring "Abanse Negrense, Abanse Turismo" to a greater height. I was told recently by Miss Tintin Mansinares, provincial tourism officer of Negros Occidental, that we have a good number of local and foreign tourists coming to the province.

Last Saturday (July 27), Magikland in Silay opened its magic door to the guests ... tourism industry pillars, investors, public officials, interested Negrosanons, media and friends. Magikland is not only a park for the imagination of the kids. It is a show window for the best of Silay and Negros Occidental; culture, heritage, tourism, architecture and opportunities. This is a kind of "Abanse Negrense" that is a must.

With the support from the Provincial Tourism Office, I am happy that after retirement as tourism officer of Silay City, many towns and cities are interested to take me as resource person in their tourism programs. They are interested to know how we placed Silay in the Hall of Fame as the Most Outstanding Tourism-Oriented Local Government Unit in the Philippines.

With DOT Regional Office, Province of Negros Occidental, and Team Philippines-WV, the Provincial Tourism Office was able to award lately 26 certificates of training to the new tour guides who finished their 3-month weekend classes. We can proudly say that in the entire country, Negros Occidental has the biggest number of accredited tour guides.

On August 3 (Saturday), the entire tourism staff of Sipalay City will undergo a comprehensive training on office management, protocol and social graces, evolving trends in tour guiding and other vital information on tourism considering that Sipalay is "The Pearl" of Negros. It is also a consistent recipient of the "Award of Excellence" from DOT and Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines.

San Carlos City will have also its two-day training on effective tour guiding management on August 20 and 21. Another training module on "Tourist Police Training" will be sponsored by San Carlos City on September 4. The Carlotenos are already in the map of world tourism after reaping international awards.

The "Big Bong Theory" in tourism should be sustained as we embark on our "Abanse Negrense" journey. More power!