Pacete: Silay: In Tourism Hall of Fame

SILAY City is grand winner for three consecutive years in the Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines-Department of Tourism (Atop-DOT) Pearl Award as Best Tourism-Oriented LGU of the Philippines… 2012 in Dakak, 2013 in Legazpi City, and 2014 in Bacolod City. During the 16th National Convention in SMX Davao City on October 3, 2015, Silay received the Hall of Fame trophy.

The trophy (“manlot/taklobo” shell with pearl inside) with Philippine Eagle on top (emblem of Davao) was received by Mayor Jose Montelibano, Councilor Neil Solomon Locsin, yours truly Tourism Officer Ver Pacete, Executive Assistant Susan Velez, First Lady Marissa Montelibano (volunteer adviser for tourism program), Leo Canson (chair of Ikaw-Ako Foundation), and Francess Dane Cobrado (designated assistant investment officer).

Silay won three other trophies during the Awards Night for Best Practices in Community-Based Tourism: Hda. Adela Folklore Village-Responsible Tourism Enterprise, second runner-up; Silay City Heritage Conservation-Responsible Tourism Heritage, first runner-up; and Ikaw-Ako Foundation Inc. (Japan-Negros Partnership for Responsible Environment Management), first runner-up. Another trophy was added, Silay City Tourism Month Celebration, second runner-up.

The Hall of Fame Award could be credited to Silay’s involvement in integral tourism. The city has 29 ancestral houses that have been identified by the National Historical Commission as heritage landmarks. That could be the reason why recently Silay hosted the National Heritage Society Summit. Silay is a Museum City or the City of Museums (with four museums available for tourists).

In the past, Silay was known as the “Paris of Negros” and today it carries the title as “Seat of Arts, Culture and Ecotourism in Western Visayas.” Silay is the “banwa sang dulce” because of its famous hometown delicacies and “lutong-bahay” food that include the ambrosial seafood of Balaring shoreline restaurants.

The city has been singled out by the United Nations Habitat as a progressive city in the future. UN Habitat is helping the city government prepare a master plan for the 50-hectare expansion that will define a tourism landscape for the community, commercial complex, recreation area, and outdoor-indoor facilities. That will be the “New Silay.”

The airport in Silay has been a champion also for value chain advocating green technology after winning the local and national awards as Green Airport. Manager Mecine Reyes has been working closely with Silay City Government and the Provincial Government. Both LGUs have provided staff members for the Meet and Greet Committee at the Information Center. We have trained porters for the service of travelers.

Farm tourism takes center stage in Silay with the presence of Organic Village in Barangay Patag and the popular Fresh Start Organics Farm managed by Chin Chin Uy. Tourists coming to Silay who are interested in organic farming are always accommodated to have a familiarization tour.

Our sugarcane workers and independent small farmers are always empowered through the program on sustainable community-based tourism like the one we have at Hda. Adela Folklore Village where the “Asosasyon sang mga Mangunguma sa Adela” (AMA) accommodate local and foreign tourists in hacienda tours while Ikaw-Ako has rehabilitated mangroves in Balaring and reforested watershed areas in Baliguan and Lantawan.

These are some of the major tourism activities in Silay assisted by government agencies, private sector, environmentalists, students, barangay residents, and foreign NGOs who even invited some of our staff members to have scholarship programs abroad. We are also thankful to Friends of Tourism-Silay for the unfailing support.

Silay tourism program will still go on. It has the support of the Executive and the Legislative. It will go beyond 2016 elections. This can always happen in Silay, where life is sweet and sweetness could be forever. Congratulations Silaynons! Be proud! The award is yours.
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