A PRIEST and two mayors in Negros Occidental were named the 1st Governor Eugenio Jose "Bong" Lacson Tourism Excellence awardees because of their contribution to the Tourism industry.
The awardees were Sipalay City Mayor Oscar Montilla, La Castellana town Mayor Rhumylla Nicor-Mangilimutan, and Monsignor Guillermo Ma. "Gigi" Gaston for the cultural variety.
Provincial Tourism officer Jennylind Cordero said their efforts and contribution to the promotion and development of the tourism industry in the province have been exceptional.
The awarding was in line with the province observance of the 21st Negros Occidental Tourism Month.
Monsignor Gaston, being a senior citizen could no longer travel, thus, he received his recognition plaque at his home in Manapla town by Provincial Tourism Officer Jennylind Cordero, Raymund Alunan, tourism operation assistant, and several other staff members from the provincial tourism office.
Monsignor Gaston has been very active in the sustainability of folk dances in Negros Occidental.
He has maintained the Chapel of the Cartwheels in Manapla, one of the few attractions showcasing Filipino Liturgical Art, where the first Hiligaynon Mass was held in the province.
He was known for his colorful personality, being an artist who has a passion for the arts and culture.
Gaston’s family was among those who were known for preserving valuable art materials and sustained the value of history with the conversion of some of the ancestral homes as museums or places that could further the education of the younger generations of Negrenses about the arts, culture, and history.
As for Montilla and Mangilimutan, they were also recognized for improving the tourism industry in their respective local government units.
Raymund Alunan, being a pianist, has performed some of his masterpieces at the house of Monsignor Gaston put a smile on the face of the former prelate as he, too, has a penchant for music.
It was a simple ceremony where Monsignor Gaston has felt how his works and dedication to the arts and culture were valued and recognized, Cordero said.
It is the governor's way through the Tourism Office to inspire the awardees to be inspired for their hard work and dedication to the upliftment of tourism in the province, she added.