INTERIOR and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II is the guest of honor and speaker at the opening rites of the 22nd Panaad sa Negros Festival which opens today at the Panaad Park and Stadium in Bacolod City.

Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr., who heads the Western Visayas Regional Development Council, said he also expects guests from Regions 6, 7 and 8, especially officials from Negros Oriental.

Festival dances and pavilions of towns and cities in the province will be featured at the event which runs until April 19.

Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he hopes the Panaad Festival will be the venue for the realization of the one-island region proposal of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental.

"We are not sleeping on what we have started and it will just take a little push for us proponents and our dream will be realized," Lacson said.

He said many of the officials in both provinces have worked for the realization of this dream, and time is an important factor for the proposal.

"Months from now, focus will shift on the preparations for the 2016 elections, but up to the last effort we can, we remain optimistic that it will be realized," he said.