EXCEPT for minor crimes that included a robbery in broad daylight, Saturday's Kagay-an Festival had been generally peaceful and the "most organized" in years, officials said.
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano congratulated the festival organizer-Promote CDO Foundation -- for a "job well done." The mayor lauded in particular the return of the civic-military parade in the annual festivities, which he said had added flair and historical perspective to the celebration.
Emano commended local and regional police and the Army's Fourth Infantry Division (4th ID) for deploying their forces on the streets, saying this had greatly contributed to the "generally peaceful" festival.
A roundup on local police stations showed petty crimes dominated the list of public complaints during the festival.
The mayor admitted he had reservations whether the festival would be received well by visitors, pointing out that the country had just emerged from an international fiasco when a disgruntled ex-policeman took hostage a busload of Hong Kong tourists last Monday in Manila. The incident ended with the killing of eight tourists and the gunman, ex-senior inspector Rolando Mendoza.
"I thought the hostage taking incident would adversely affect the celebration," Emano said in the dialect. "Apparently it did not, judging by the number of visitors who attended."
"This fiesta is by far the best in years because the activities were well planned and organized," he added.
He was also thankful to Senator Francis Escudero for gracing the fiesta. The senator crowned the winning Miss Kagay-an Thursday evening.
He also thanked the City Tourism Board headed by Josie Aliñabon and former first lady Divina Jaraula for the "success" of the Ms. Kagay-an pageant, one of the highlights of the festival.
Councilor Alden Bacal, chair of the City Council committee on tourism, said he expects a grander celebration next year "through the cooperation of all stakeholders and the community." (Annabelle L. Ricalde)