NEGROS Occidental dominated the 16th Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines-Department of Tourism (Atop-DOT) Pearl Awards in rites held Saturday night at SMX Lanang, Davao City.
The Panaad sa Negros Festival was declared grand winner as Best Tourism Event.
Negros Occidental was also named grand winner as Best Tourism-Oriented LGU-Province, and as Best Tourism Month/Week Celebration.
For Best Tourism Event, Pangasinan’s Pistay Dayat was second, and the Pawikan Festival of Bataan, third.
Five local government units (LGUs) in Negros Occidental brought home a total of 12 awards, including the Hall of Fame trophy for Silay City that was adjudged Best Tourism-Oriented LGU in the City Category for three consecutive years.
Mayor Jose Montelibano, his wife Marissa Montelibano, and Tourism Officer Ver Pacete received the Hall of Fame award for Silay.
A special award was also given to Negros Occidental by the Diliman Preparatory School (DPS) led by former senator Anna Dominique Coseteng.
The school management cited the staging of the 21st Panaad sa Negros for “exemplifying the commitment and values of the DPS towards the development and promotion of the culture of tourism through education, youth and community development.”
DPS vice president for academic affairs Perry Coseteng handed out the special citation together with school officials.
Atop president Alphonsus Tesoro led officials during the awarding rites.
Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. congratulated the Panaad sa Negros organizing committee headed by Provincial Planning and Development Officer Marlin Sanogal, festival executive director.
“With hard work, we can always reap great results,” Marañon said.
Another grand prize winner is Sagay City, whose entry, “Nature of Responsible Tourism Intervention: Suyac Island,” topped the Best Practices in Community-Based Responsible Tourism-All Levels competition, where Silay City’s “Ikaw-Ako Foundation,” settled for first runner-up honors.
Sagay was also first runner-up in the Best Tourism Month/Week Celebration, while Silay placed second.
Silay also won first runner-up in Best Practices in Community-Based Responsible Tourism-Heritage Category for the “Silay City Heritage Conservation” efforts, and second runner up for the Best Practices in Community-Based Responsible Tourism-Enterprise Category for the “Hacienda Adela Folklore Village: Sustaining Culture and Tourism.”
Sipalay City’s “Tourism Kite Festival” was first runner-up in Best Tourism Event; Pulupandan’s “Bird and Dolphin Watching,” second runner-up, Best Tourism Event; and Bago City, second runner-up, Best Tourism Event-Festival, for “Babaylan Festival.”
Sanogal, who sits as one of the senior members of the Negros Island Region Technical Working Group, said the recognition of successful tourism programs of the LGUs in Negros is a good start for the NIR.
Dumaguete City, Oriental Negros’ capital, also won two awards -- grand winner, Best Tourism Month/Week Celebration-City, and second runner-up, Best Tourism Event-Sports Adventure Category.
“Our three grand winner haul is proof of the provincial government’s seriousness in developing our tourism industry as a major driver for rural development by providing employment and livelihood,” Sanogal added.
De Ramos, who had been part of the Panaad Festival since its early beginnings, said the recognition of the summer festivities as a major tourism event, is an affirmation that it is not just a fiesta but also a venue to showcase Negros’ best practices and its diverse and unique culture.