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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, October 11, 2018
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Pearl awards

Ninfa Leonardia

In the Philippines, there is only one award-giving body that recognizes the works of local tourism offices in events, community-based tourism campaigns, tourism month celebrations, outstanding tourism officers, tourism officer associations, and outstanding tourism oriented towns, cities and provinces.

The Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines, in partnership with the Department of Tourism, came up with the Pearl Awards that started in 2006 in Bacolod City. The Best Tourism Practices of local government units have been improving and becoming more competitive.

Twelve years later at the 19 th Tourism Officers National Convention, the ATOP-DOT Pearl Awards was attended by local chief executives, tourism councils and tourism officers in Cagayan de Oro City.

It is always a night to look forward to. As past national presidents, we were presentors of various awards. Roselyn Merlin of Surigao City presented the awards for Best Tourism Event in the Festival category with Banaag Festival of the municipality of Anilao, Iloilo, Bakood Festival of Bacoor City, Cavite, and the Singkaban Festival of the province of Bulacan as first place winners.

In the Best Tourism Event Sports category, the Abre-Grande-Lawig of Palompon, Leyte, the Tourism Kite Festival of Sipalay City, and the Lakbike Turismo of the province of Bulacan were the champions.

In the Best Tourism Month celebration, the municipality of Bayambang-Pangasinan, Sagay City in Negros Occidental, and the province of Capiz were awarded first placers, with Bacolod City as third place winner for 2018.

Past president Miguel Sison of Alaminos, Pangasinan presented the awards for Best Practices on Community Based Responsible Tourism where Tagum City in Davao del Norte bagged the first place award for its Tagumpay Gulayan program, followed by The Suyac Island Journey: Coastal Community Resource Advocacies to Boost Sustainability of Sagay. The Community Based Tourism Enterprise was awarded to the province of Samar for its Ulot Torpedo Boat Extreme Ride, and the Community Based Heritage Conservation Program award to the municipality of Magalang in Pampanga for its “Ing Banal A Bituin Queng Magalang: Lubenas Ning Pasko”.

I was tasked to present the awards for Most Outstanding Tourism Officer for 2018 to Iloilo City Tourism Officer Junel Ann Divinagracia, and for the Best Tourism Officers Association to the Iloilo Tourism Officers Association.

Highlight of the Awards Night was the Best Tourism Oriented LGU with the municipality of Tanay, Rizal, Tagum City in Davao del Norte, and the province of Ilocos Norte as first place winners.

Coming from our province which has been Hall of Fame awardee in the Best Tourism Oriented Province and Best Tourism Week Celebration in 2016 and Best Tourism Event-Festival Category in 2017, we are encouraged to participate in the new awards for 2019. The DILG has supported the Best Tourism Practices with the inclusion of the formation of Tourism Arts and Culture Council in LGUs and has been part of the Seal of Good Local Governance.

The ATOP-DOT Pearl Awards winners defended their entries before a panel in Manila, just like preparing a book for a thesis or dissertation. Indeed, it has become competitive and tourism programs and projects have become more challenging, as we learn and share new ideas with other towns and cities in the country.

Like a pearl, winning makes a town, city, or province precious and a highly-prized gem worthy of emulation.*

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