By LOUI MALIZA
Padayon Pilipino .
ONE of the most challenging ambitions of Misamis Oriental is to overhaul the basic concept of tourism. The objective requires ingenuity that could ascertain an appropriate model of peculiarity, but generally inspiring and transcendental.
Nothing is more appropriate than the adoption of “Kuyamis,” the origin of the word “Misamis” in Misamis Oriental that could aptly blend with the passing of the time.
Provincial Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano knew that “Kuyamis” was a fresh concept of tourism in Misamis Oriental. He foresaw “Kuyamis” as a radical concept that could help accelerate the development of the province’s tourism potential. He needed someone who could help him transform his dreams into reality.
Emano must have found someone fit for the job in the person of Atty. Jeffrey Saclot, the current head the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO). Saclot’s task was to execute the plans of the governor and help the latter elevate the provincial tourism industry to a higher level, something which is in stark contrast with his profession as a young lawyer.
Emano was right. Saclot was able to internalize the abstracts of redesigning the concept of the province’s tourism roadmap.
Starting with uncertainties as to the future of the festival but with so much hope in his heart, Emano officially launched “Kuyamis” six years ago as an “agricultural fair.” Nobody expected that a mere “Agri-fair,” that showcased Misamis Oriental’s primary agricultural products, particularly the coconuts, would survive amid negative criticisms from the detractors of the Emano administration.
This year, on the occasion of its sixth anniversary, “Kuyamis,” has come out of its shell like a mystical butterfly that metamorphosed into a kaleidoscope of festival of colors and entertainment.
The agricultural fair became the window of Misamis Oriental’s secrets that, for many years in the past, was kept in silence due to political indifference. Twenty-two of Misamis Oriental’s municipal towns, including the component city of El Salvador, positively responded to the clarion call to join this year’s “Kuyamis Festival.”
“The Kuyamis festival, in particular, and the tourism industry in Misamis Oriental, have reached a new height in terms of regional acceptance and acclamation. Thanks to Gov. Emano’s unwavering support to the tourism industry,” quipped RD May Salvaña-Unchuan, the Regional Director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Northern Mindanao.
For his part, Saclot said the “Kuyamis Festival” has now asserted its niche in the local and national tourism industry, and has now gained national and local patronage, underscoring that while the “Agri-fair” remains a major component of the “Kuyamis Festival,” the organizers have added a variety of events that have attracted an increased significant number of domestic and foreign tourists this year.
“An exhibition of the province’s culture and arts is also an integral part of the Kuyamis Festival,” Saclot added.
According to him, the culture and arts exhibit at a downtown mall in Cagayan de Oro City definitely demonstrates the richness of the customs and traditions of the “Misamisnons,” more so because the province’s indigenous peoples were given key roles in the week-long festivity. Clearly, apart from promoting the beautiful, breathtaking, and enchanting places in Misamis Oriental, the “Kuyamis” evolved as an integration of the heart and soul of Misamis Oriental and its people. The exposition of the arts and culture in the form of paintings, handicrafts and sculptures mirrors the characters and aspirations of the “Misamisnons.” The other exhibits also defined Misamis Oriental as a province that is upbeat about the modern times.
Saclot explained that Gov. Emano attaches great importance to traditions, culture and the arts because these things provide a distinctive character that unites the people and promotes their identity. Gov. Emano has established “Kuyamis Festival” as a source of pride that unites the “Misamisnons” in spite of the contrasting political views and biases. Kuyamis Festival opens the door through which the uniqueness and talents of the Misamisnons are discovered. Accomplishing the tasks entailed in the celebration of the “Kuyamis Festival” also means attaining the mission for Misamis Oriental to become a major tourist attraction in Mindanao and the rest of the country.
(Loui Maliza is a former newspaper editor. He is now a staff member at the capitol’s press office.)