By Blessing Angel Agliam
The Provincial Government of Ilocos Norte through the Ilocos Norte Tourism Office has hosted the first Tourism Gala event held at the Fort Ilocandia Hotel and Resort, Laoag City last December 19. and awarded outstanding personalities and organizations with impressive tourism-related achievements.
The awardees were nominated by local government units (LGUs) and screened by the Office of the Governor, the INTO, and the Association of Tourism Officers of Ilocos Norte (ATOIN).
The awardees were grouped into ten categories: Hotels and Hospitality, Travel and Tour Operators, Attractions, Local Products, Restaurants, Festivals and Events, Transportation, Tourism Education, Event Venues, and Tour Guides.
Among those cited was 92-year-old national living treasure Magdalena Gamayo of Pinili, Ilocos Norte who got the Tourism Star award for Abel (a local handloom-woven fabric) for “upholding the Filipino weaving tradition in Ilocos Region.
Meanwhile, Badoc’s La Virgen Milagrosa Bado-Badoc Festival was awarded as Outstanding Religious Festival. La Milagrosa is the patron saint of Ilocos Norte, whose feast is celebrated provincewide every May.
Criteria for the award were exemplary leadership in providing customer services and hospitability; boosting agri-, cultural, and eco-tourism; promoting innovations of Ilocano cuisine and local products; and generating revenue for the province.
Ianree “Aian” B. Raquel, head of the INTO, said that he expects stronger collaboration among stakeholders in coming years.
“May your innovation, leadership. and commitment to the Ilocano brand of hospitality and tourism inspire others as we face more challenges brought about by our ever-growing tourism industry.”
Senior Provincial Board Member Matthew Marcos Manotoc expressed gratitude to all the awardees for their significant and active partnership in helping promote the local tourism industry and Ilocano culture.
He added that the gala event was an act of synergy and stronger partnership between the public and private sectors, asking the stakeholders to “strike a healthy ‘competition,” wherein they cooperate and compete.
Vice Governor Angelo Marcos Barba likewise urged his province mates to live up the unique Ilocano culture of panagkaykaysa (unity) in developing a more livable, sustainable, and resilient province.
Last October, Ilocos Norte bagged first place in the Best Tourism-Oriented LGU Category at the 2018 Pearl Awards hosted by the Department of Tourism (DOT) – Association of Tourism Officers in the Philippines (ATOP).
During the said gala program for the awardees, Raquel said in his welcome address, “This year, we are the best in the country because of our stakeholders and front liners, who never fail to showcase the pioneering spirit of the Ilocano.”
The next major tourism event here will be the holding of the 8th Tan-ok ni Ilocano Festival of Festivals on February 2, 2019, to coincide with the 201st Foundation Anniversary of the province and closing rites for her bicentennial year. – (Blessing Angel Agliam, PGIN-CMO trainee writer)