By LOUI MALIZA
Padayon Pilipino .
FOR six years since its inception in 2014, “Kuyamis,” an annual festival that pays tribute to Misamis Oriental’s indigenous past, has now found a niche in the tourism industry. As soon as he assumed as provincial governor of Misamis Oriental in 2013, Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano, conceptualized a unique project that would serve as the backbone of his tourism program in the province. Emano identified tourism as the flagship of the eight pillars of the province’s development with the firm belief that a successful tourism industry along with transparency would propel the success of the province.
Emano’s eight pillars of development include agriculture, health, infrastructure, education, environment, transportation, cooperative and peace and order.
Fresh from his stint in Congress, Emano had an opportunity to travel widely in and out of the country. Undoubtedly, Emano was exposed to tourism as the catalyst of development. Thus, without wasting his time, Emano immediately formed a team that would implement an effective tourism program, which finally led to the birth of “Kuyamis Festival.”
With its historical significance, Kuyamis Festival appropriately depicts the tradition and culture of the people of Misamis Oriental. Its promotion nurtures the identity of the province to become competitive in the tourism industry. The task to carry out Emano’s aspiration for tourism is somehow challenging that the governor found the appointment of Atty. Jeffrey Saclot, as head the Provincial Tourism Office (PTO), appropriate.
An intelligent young lawyer, Saclot believes that the challenge to head the PTO is demanding that he has to chart the future “Kuyamis Festival” beyond the expectation of the provincial governor. “The celebration of “Kuyamis Festival” cooncides with the commemoration of the annual founding anniversary of Misamis Oriental,” Saclot said.
Accoridng to Saclot, a festival is an indicator of a vibrant tourism atmosphere of a place that identifies its peculiar character. The provincial government intends to make the festival as competitive as the existing major festivals in the country today. Every year, dozens of festivals are observed in the country. These festivals draw not just thousands, but even millions of domestic and foreign tourists annually.
“The Kuyamis festival is moving toward the direction of becoming a major tourist attraction in the near future,” Saclot added. Records show that more than 500,000 domestic and foreign tourists visited Misamis Oriental during the first few months of 2018, which indicates of high optimism about the future of the tourist industry in the province. It also aims to promote the products and tourist attractions of the various municipalities and cities of Misamis Oriental,” Saclot further explained, emphasizing that the celebration primarily endorses the promotion of Misamis Oriental as a major coconut producer in Northern Mindanao.
One could notice that the coconuts and coconut trees are the materials used in the construction of all booths at the provincial capitol ground during the Kuyamis Festival. This year, more than 20 municipalities/city are joining the activities of the festival at the provincial capitol ground. Each town/city has a booth where coconut products and delicacies are displayed for sale along with other agricultural products.
One of the highlights of the festival is the annual “Miss Kuyamis” beauty pageant where contestants represent the various towns/cities in Misamis Oriental. The winner of the beauty pageant will serve as the province’s tourism ambassador aside from becoming the official candidate of Misamis Oriental to the various national beauty pageants in Manila.
(Louie Maliza is working in the information office of the Misamis Oriental provincial capitol.)