BACOLOD CITY – The kick off the Philippine Experience: Culture, Heritage and Arts Program (PEP) Western Visayas leg of the Department of Tourism (DOT) highlighted heritage sites and food offerings of the cities of Silay and Bacolod in Negros Occidental here on Wednesday.
DOT Secretary Christina Garcia Frasco led the tours of the various attractions in the two cities, together with other tourism officials, travel writers, tour vloggers and tour operators.
In a statement, Frasco expressed optimism about the country's tourism recovery and economic resurgence by highlighting its unique cultural identity as a key attraction.
The program gets inspiration from "Suroy Suroy Sugbo," a successful tourism promotion strategy of Cebu initiated by her mother, Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, in 2008.
Bacolod Mayor Alfredo Abelardo Benitez and other city officials welcomed the secretary during a lunch reception at the Bantug Lake Ranch along the Alangilan-Granda Road.
"We are here to taste one of the attractions of Bacolod, which is its food. We have gathered most of the distinguished restaurants and their delicacies in this venue, so you will be able to taste and experience first-hand the dishes that we have always been proud of," Benitez said.
The lunch menu included local favorites such as apan-apan or adobong kangkong Bacolod style, kinilaw nga tangigue, ensalada nga langka, chicken inasal, cake samplers, napoleones, hot piaya and sorbetes.
Frasco also attended a welcome reception at the Governor Center here, after which she passed by The Upper East of the Megaworld before proceeding to the Orange Project and Art Gallery and the Association of Negros Producers.
Frasco and the other guests attended the Governor's Ball hosted by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson at Capitol Social Hall in the evening.
Before proceeding to Bacolod earlier on Wednesday, guests experienced activities, including a tour of the Silay City Heritage Zone, a Slow Food experience at Casa A. Gamboa, and a visit to the Hawaiian Philippine Company.
At the Casa A. Gamboa, Frasco was joined by Lacson, Victorias City Mayor Javier Miguel Benitez and Silay City Vice Mayor Tom Ledesma.
She also received a copy of the cookbook titled "Sud-an": Rediscovering Western Visayas Cuisine through the Ark of Taste” from Slow Food Negros Island president Reena Gamboa.
Silay City councilor Ryan Gamboa, chairperson of the committee on tourism, said they are very honored that the DOT chose Silay as one of the destinations for the launch of the PEP Western Visayas leg.
"Silay has always been known for its tourism. The core of Secretary Frasco's visit is about slow food. Using indigenous ingredients, the community is showing to the world the great flavors of Silay," he added. (PNA)