ANGELES CITY- This highly-urbanized city, under the leadership of Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan, has proven its steady stature towards attaining tourism inclusivity and innovativeness as it wins major awards in this year’s Department of Tourism-Association of Tourism Officers of the Philippines (DOT-ATOP) Pearl Award held October 7 in Iloilo City.
Three awards were conferred to the city in two different categories under the Best Practices on Community-Based Responsible Tourism category.
The city’s entry “Angeles Traditional Parul”, which highlights the unique Angeleño craftsmanship, heritage and sacred tradition, won the grand prize for the Best Community-Based Tourism Enterprise category.
The use of the Angeles Paruls, which are made up of bamboos, all-white papel de hapon and cut-out dainty patterns made from gold or silver palara, is practiced since the year when the town celebrated the very first La Naval fiesta in 1829.
Today, the tradition of parul-making in Angeles City is prominent in Barangays Sto. Rosario, San Jose, Cutcut, San Nicolas and Pulungbulu providing livelihood to the community especially to families who have inherited the skills.
To pass on this heritage legacy, the Angeles City Tourism Office (ACTO), the Culture and Arts Council of Angeles (CACA) and through various private groups have been active in promoting the said ‘heritage craft’ through free workshops to jail inmates, the women sector and the out-of-school youth.
The Angeles Traditional Parul are annually paraded in front of the iconic Holy Rosary Parish Church through ‘Ing Lubenas ning Pasku’ which is held every December where different villages compete for the best designed heritage lanterns.
Because of its heritage significance, 17th Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) headed by Vice Mayor Bryan Matthew Nepomuceno passed an ordinance in 2016 declaring the Angeles Traditional Parul and Lubenas ning Pasku as intangible cultural heritage of the city.
On the other hand, the city also landed as the grand prize winner for the Best Community Heritage Conservation Project with the entry, “Community Empowerment to Promote Inclusive Tourism and Sustainable Heritage Management”.
ACTO Head John Montances said that ‘inclusive tourism’ has been the main drive of the city following the urban renewal program implemented by the current administration that aimed at uncovering heritage structures that have been hidden beneath commercialization and neglect for the longest time.
“The city has empowered various sectors through immersions, trainings and workshops that will involve them in one mind-set and one goal. The heart-warming responses of our people, and even non-residents, remind us that we are doing the right thing and that is to make our city tourism viable,” said Tourism officer Montances.
The tourism officer also said that the existence of tourism, culture and arts organizations in the city are proofs to the extensive community participation propelling tourism sustainability in the city. As a testament of all-inclusiveness, Montances cited that “only in Angeles City can one find a tourist guide who is deaf”.
The award, which was conferred to the city for the third time, makes Angeles City a “Hall of Famer” in this year’s DOT-ATOP Pearl Award.
For his part, Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan congratulated the team behind the success of the city’s tourism, heritage, culture and arts programs.
“Inclusivity and participative governance have been two of the main cores of our administration. This accolade is a clear manifestation of how dedicated our government and the private sector are in attaining a truly vibrant and people-centered city,” said Mayor Pamintuan.
“With all the programs that we have initiated, we have inculcated pride of heritage to our people. We vividly see that they are taking the frontline now and they are more empowered than ever,” Pamintuan added
The DOT-ATOP Pearl Award is a competition of best tourism practices and a convergence of all tourism stakeholders in the country.
The award-giving body, which is now on its 12th year, is open to all local government units (municipality, city, province) with seven categories on best tourism festival event, sports event, tourism-oriented LGU, tourism week/month celebration, tourism campaign, tourism enterprise and heritage conservation project.
Also in attendance during the Pearl Award are SP Chairperson for Education Councilor Edgardo Pamintuan Jr., Chairperson for Tourism Councilor Jae Vincent Flores, Councilor Joseph Ponce, ACTO Deputy for Heritage, Culture and Arts Joy Cruz and Pampanga Provincial Tourism Officer Arwin Lingat.