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Balikbayans, foreign revelers arrive for Sinulog festivities

Friday, January 15, 2016

CEBU leaders yesterday welcomed the arrival of more than 200 registered balikbayans and foreign tourists at the Mactan airport. They’re here to witness the Sinulog Grand Parade on Jan. 17.

Tita Baad, chairperson of the Cebu City Tourism Commission, said most of the balikbayans came from the US, particularly San Francisco, Las Vegas and Los Angeles, and other parts of the world.

She said there is no way they can track all balikbayans but they are trying to get an accurate number by providing a registration area at Cebu Business Park.
Baad said they include in their Balik Cebu promotion balikbayans from other parts of the country that have lived in Cebu.

The GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corp. (GMCAC) is also helping promote big events in Cebu like Sinulog so more tourists will come.

Estee Marie Patino Plunket, head of the GMCAC corporate affairs, has coordinated with the Balik Cebu Committee in welcoming balikbayans and foreign tourists who accompany them.

Dinner treat

Retired Department of Tourism 7 director Patricia Aurora Roa, a member of the Balik Cebu Committee of the Cebu City Tourism Commission, said registered balikbayans were treated to a dinner yesterday at Ayala Business Park with Ayala Land Holdings putting up the bill.

Roa said that for the past 15 years, they have convinced Filipinos working and residing abroad to come home during the Sinulog celebration. So every year, it has been more festive.

“It’s something that can take Cebu higher as a destination for tourists,” she said.

She said most balikbayans who attend the Sinulog regularly check in hotels rather than stay with relatives because they want their privacy.

Mildred and Leo Bongado, who reside in California, are natives of Manaoag, Pangasinan. They arrived yesterday to witness the Sinulog.

“We come to Cebu upon the invitation of our friends and we want to see what really Sinulog is? We want to discover all the things that Cebu offers to tourists,” Mildred said.

Dolores Ajoc, who is now a resident of Florida but was born in Davao City, said she studied in Cebu. She said she wants to see how the city has changed.

Meanwhile, Mactan-Cebu International Airport Authority General Manager Ahmed Cuizon said they beefed up airport security and provided better transportation facilities to balikbayans and foreign tourists.