By NITZ ARANCON
THE manager of Budgetel on Thursday revealed that local organizers of the Mr. and Ms. Pancontinental 2015 booked the pageant candidates too late in the day resulting in a billeting mess on Saturday.
Kassandra Arbuis, Budgetel manager, said the establishment cannot be faulted, adding that its workers gave their best effort to accommodate and serve about 40 guests, including parents and handlers of the pageant candidates, despite the short notice.
Arbuis said Budgetel had many guests that day, and could only provide the group 19 rooms.
“Kon nagpaeserve pa lang unta sila (organizers) daan sa layo pa tanan sila mahatagan unta namo ug executive rooms. Pero 4 pm na man sila niadtong Sabado mi-anhi dinhi kay naa kunoy ilang mga bisita,” she said.
Arbuis said she and other Budgetel staff members were not even informed who the guests were, and exactly how many were arriving.
The foreigners, she said, arrived at Budgetel in two batches–the first came from the Laguindingan Airport at around 4 pm while the second arrived at around 9:30 pm.
Arbuis said the foreigners started complaining after the second batch arrived, and only until 11 pm on Saturday were they able to settle in their rooms.
She said Budgetel even treated the entire entourage of the pageant to a complimentary breakfast on Sunday morning before they checked out.
Arbuis’s revelations corroborated claims by local tourism officials, including city hall and the capitol, that shoddy event organizing skills factored in the pageant mess, and the decision of Miss New Zealand-Pancontinental Nicole Harding to quit, leave, and rant on social media. Her complaints about the “shabby treatment” went viral on the Internet, putting the city in a bad light.
Harding hurriedly flew out of the city on Sunday afternoon with her roommate Miss USA-Pancontinental Ashley Clark. On Tuesday, two other contestants, Derya Emre of Belgium, and Tiffany Boone who came to represent Benelux (Belgium-Netherlands-Luxembourg), also left the city.
Dorothy Jean Pabayo, chairperson of the city’s tourism council, said there was nothing wrong with Room 216–the Budgetel room where Harding stayed–but the place was inappropriate for international guests such as international beauty pageant candidates.
“The room is clean and presentable. It has airconditioning. It has its own bathroom, flat-screen TV, and even interior curtains. Pero kay mga foreigner gud kini sila, dapat international standard ang ilang hotel accommodation dinhi,” said Pabayo. “That is why gitawag kini ug Budgetel kay kon mo-travel kita, mag-budget man gyud ta.”
She said Budgetel is specifically designed for transcients, travelers, and backpackers.
“This kind of room is only an accommodation room for people who just come in to sleep, and then go,” Pabayo she said.
Pabayo said the organizers should have brought the contestants to four- or five-star hotels.
She said Lourdes Stanley, the local organizer of the pageant, should have coordinated with local tourism officials who could have helped in looking for appropriate hotel accommodations for the group.
Meanwhile, the pageant candidates stayed for another day in order to visit Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon, yesterday.
Sheryl Macale, manager sa Radio Natin station and project manager of the pageant, said the contestants were treated to Dahilayan Forest Park.
Despite the heavy downpour there in the afternoon, Macale said the foreigners enjoyed the zipline and other rides.
The group is scheduled to return to Manila today, and prepare for their coronation night in Makati tomorrow.