DUMAGUETE CITY – Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo on Friday expressed optimism that the new branding of the Sandurot Festival would reap benefits in a matter of time by promoting the socio-cultural tourism event.

Sandurot Festival is a three-part event composed of the Paghimamat, a get-together which tells the story of Dumaguete; the Pasigarbo, or street dance; and the Pasundayag or showdown which features at least 11 dance contingents from a number of schools and barangays.

Remollo, in a press conference a day before the main event of the 10-day festival, was reacting to observations by some quarters of a not-so-festive staging of Sandurot this year compared to previous years.

This year, the city government, through the City Tourism Council, had moved the Sandurot Festival from its usual celebration month in November to September, hoping to make it a separate activity from the city’s charter day anniversary and fiesta of its patron saint, St. Catherine of Alexandria.

The city envisions that the Sandurot Festival held in September will become a regular tourism come-on, held also in line with the country’s Tourism Month celebration, said the mayor.

Remollo pointed out the Sandurot Festival will also have its birthing pains and learning experiences just like the much older and grander festivals in the country, like the Ati-Atihan in Iloilo or the Masskara in Bacolod City, which took several years to grow and become popular as they are now.

The mayor is not worried that not too many people outside of Dumaguete are aware of this month’s staging of the Sandurot Festival but believes that in the coming years, it will rake in more tourists to this capital city.

Dumaguete is slowly gaining popularity as a venue for a variety of national and local events, ranging from sports to cultural presentations, academic gatherings and even government and private activities such as conferences and the like, he pointed out.

Remollo disclosed that several activities are already lined up in the coming months until next year, an indication that, indeed, Dumaguete City continues to become a better venue for a variety of events.

The 2017 Sandurot Festival opened on September 8 and runs through September 17, with activities such as a bazaar featuring foods, arts and crafts and products made by local producers, live concerts featuring local artists, corporate partner nights, the Duma Comida food festival participated in by the MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises) in the food service industry, DulangPinoy to revive traditional Filipino games, a national drone race (the first to be held here), a 21-km half marathon, a terra cotta exhibit and an electro night run, among others.

City Tourism Office Jacqueline Veloso Antonio assured that a number of pre-fabricated trash bins have been placed at the Duma Comida venue at the Rizal Boulevard as she assured that the garbage problem, especially at the height of the Sandurot Festival, is being addressed.

She said collection of garbage is assured as personnel and garbage trucks and compactors are under strict instructions to remove the trash from the Duma Comida venue every night.

Antonio appealed to the public to show their support and appreciation to the Sandurot Festival presentation of the “story of Dumaguete”, with the YATTA headed by Dessa Quesada-Palm in the lead, with Foundation University, Holy Cross High School, the MEV Dance Company, Silliman University, the Negros Oriental State University, and Barangays Calindagan and Piapi participating in the Paghimamat.

For the Pasigarbo and Pasundayag, the 11 participating contingents are Asian College, Piapi High School, Junob High School, Dumaguete City High School, Silliman University, Barangay Cantil-e, Barangay Junod, Barangay Looc, Barangay Daro and Barangay Banilad.

The opening salvo will be at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Rizal Boulevard for the Paghimamat, which will be immediately followed by the street dancing and finally, the showdown.

The city also announced it will deploy its two Lupad Dumaguete buses to the barangays for a free ride, especially for residents living in the outskirts.

Two routes have been laid out, one for the southern exterior barangays and the other, for the north. Four trips have been scheduled to the venue, starting at 10 a.m., and another four return trips, the latest at 8 p.m.

Residents who want to avail of this free service are urged to proceed to their respective barangay halls designated as pick-up points and on their return, to converge at the Quezon Park. (PNA)