TOP regional and city tourism officials expressed dismay on Wednesday over the controversy hounding the Mister and Miss Pancontinental beauty pageant, an international beauty tilt which has been holding some events in the city.
Department of Tourism (DOT) Regional Director Catalino Chan III said they will summon the local partners of the event to clear up what went wrong.
"The damage has been done,” Chan said in reaction to statements made by pageant candidate Nicole Harding of New Zealand.
Harding quit the pageant Monday and took to social media to air her frustration over organizers’ lack of preparations.
Harding was also widely quoted by foreign news sites as saying that Cagayan de Oro City is ‘worse than Afghanistan’ and home to human traffickers.
Chan said that while Harding’s statements were untrue, he is worried these may have a negative impact on the region’s tourism industry.
Chan said all the brouhaha could have been avoided had the organizers coordinated with their office.
Protocol dictates, he said, that organizers of international events coordinate with concerned government agencies.
"Had they contacted us, we could have helped in the pageant's promotion or sponsor some events,” Chan said.
Eileen San Juan, city government consultant on investments promotions, said what happened was a 'wake-up call' to organizers that events need extensive organization and planning.
San Juan said Sheryl Macale, an associate of local partner Lourdes Stanley, talked to her weeks before the event asking for advice but the meeting had no follow-up.
"Of course, if they have requests, we will provide depende pud sa availability sa resources, but unta not to the extent na we are the ones na who will fill in the gaps," San Juan said.
Dorothy Pabayo, chair of the City Tourism Council Office, said as far as their office is concerned, they “have taken care of all of the candidates' needs.”
"One time ‘tong courtesy call on Monday with the mayor, we were shocked when they entered our office because we didn't know they were coming," Pabayo said.
"The organizing body of the pageant is the problem," Pabayo said.
Meanwhile, the national organizer of the pageant apologized to the officials of the city and the province for Harding’s statements.
Mylene Miranda said Harding may have been lying when she said in her posts that she talked with a 'Filipino government official.'
Miranda said Harding, together with another candidate, took the first flight out Monday and did not get to meet Provincial Governor Yevgeny 'Bambi' Emano or City Mayor Oscar 'Oca' Moreno.
“I’m really sorry for this. Sa Cagayan de Oro City, sa Misamis Oriental, I’m sorry na ganon ang nagawa nila. But sa akin lang, sorry talaga. Ako din, galit sa ginawa nila. The Governor, they’ve been very helpful. The city, Mayor Moreno was there. They gave us the city tour, gave us lunch, transportation, nag white water rafting. They’re on our side," Miranda said.
A candidate, Australian Jonathan Stock, also said Harding was clearly over reacting.
“Bits and pieces of what she said were just over exaggerated. Like with where we stayed the first night. We just had, like, three people share a room. And it was just difficult for some, but it wasn’t unbearable, it was fun, we had a good time," Stock said.
“Even on the days when I was unsure of what was going on, I didn’t feel threatened. I never felt unsafe at all. I know we are safe in Cagayan de Oro," Stock added.