DAPITAN CITY—The country’s top festivals and tourism events were feted at The Pearl Awards as part of the 13th National Convention of the Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines (ATOP) recently held in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte.
According to ATOP president Miguel Sison, The Pearl Award, a collaboration with the Diliman Preparatory School and the Department of Tourism, recognizes the best practices by local government units to serve as benchmark for tourism programs nationwide.
With an aggregate membership of more than 1,000, ATOP is the national organization of local tourism officers and legislators which aims to promote domestic tourism.
Leading the roster of awardees are Itogon (Benguet), Silay City and Negros Occidental which were named best tourism-oriented local government units in the municipality, city and provincial levels, respectively.
Negros Occidental scored a grand slam in the Best National Tourism Week Celebration capturing The Pearl in the municipal, city and provincial levels with Don Salvador Benedicto, Silay City and Negros Occidental as top winners.
Romping with the top honors in the Best Tourism Event-Sports and Wellness Category were Mt Ugo Summer Climb of Itogon, Benguet, Adlaw Sang Suba of Sagay City, and La Union Surfing Break of La Union.
In the Arts and Culture Category, winning The Pearl are Kahilwayan Festival of Sta Barbara, Iloilo; Kalilangan Festival of Gen. Santos City; and the Araw ng Lanao of the Province of Lanao del Norte.
Kalilangan Festival, which celebrates the Christian, lumad and Islamic culture of Gen. Santos City, will be elevated to the Hall of Fame in next year’s ATOP Convention for winning top honors for the third straight year.
Agriculture-based festivities were the order of the day as Sagingan Festival of Tubod, Lanao del Norte and CoCo Festival of San Pablo City, Laguna ruled the Festival Category in the municipal and city levels.
Rounding up the winners in the provincial level are La Laguna Festival of the Province of Laguna which won The Pearl, followed by Magayon Festival of Albay and Panaad sa Negros of Negros Occidental, and Hudyaka sa ZaNorte of of Zamboanga del Norte as first and runners-up, respectively.
Other winners were Anabelle Calleja of Mauban, Quezon as Most Outstanding Tourism Officer and the Compostela Valley Tourism Officers Association as the Best Tourism Club.
Meanwhile, the City of Legazpi bagged the right to host the 14th ATOP national meet in October 2013 after a landslide vote by the delegates. Co-hosting the annual meet are the Province of Albay, the Department of Tourism-Bicol and the Ako Bikol Party List.
Sison said that the gathering which bore the theme “Tourism: A Vehicle for Peace” underscored the role of tourism in promoting the culture of peace, particularly in the countryside.
He said that the group chose Mindanao as venue for the annual gathering to counter the negative public image and publicity as a strife-torn land it has been receiving.
Article written by and used with permission from Mr. Bernard Supetran
Photos provided by: Bernard Supetran