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About those Miss CDO, fiesta rants

ROCKINGHAM, North Carolina—Back in the day when I still resided in Cagayan de Oro City, there were three core activities of the annual city fiesta that I considered as important i.e. tentpole events for me; the civic military parade, church procession and the Miss Cagayan de Oro pageant.

The Miss Cagayan de Oro pageant was particularly exciting because who wouldn’t want to see a young woman crowned as beauty queen? Especially if the young woman embodied both beauty and brains, elegant yet down-to-earth relatable to Kagay-anons. So far I can remember one such Miss CDO beauty queen, Karen Lluch, whom I covered during my local media days in Cagayan de Oro City.

Then there’s another Miss CDO winner, Happy Ballesteros, who later married incumbent City Administrator Roy Hilario Raagas. As the years went by, staging the Miss Cagayan de Oro beauty pageant became a lot more challenging as organizers sought to top every year’s competition in order to live up to public expectations which can only go higher despite limited resources.

To be fair, Kagay-anons as a whole aren’t a particularly discriminating lot at least as far as city based beauty pageants go. Yet something like God-awful off-key (yabag) singing by admittedly good-looking young men that is broadcast live on TV and posted on real-time in Facebook can draw public outrage sufficiently enough to attract the attention of local officials like City Councilor Edgar Cabanlas.

To be fair, I won’t talk in length about the off-key singing as I agree with my friend Rhona Canoy who said it’s so trivial compared to issues like rising prices and the city’s crime situation. Yet Cabanlas raised quite the argument when he called for an investigation into reports that the contestants received smaller prizes compared to previous pageants.

Cabanlas also floated the proposal to secure the fiesta franchise back to the city from its present organizers. In his radio program aired on Friday (Sept. 9), Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Rolando ‘Klarex’ Uy was amenable to the proposal which would undoubtedly lure aspiring organizers eager to get a crack at managing next year’s festivities.

But as anyone who organized the Miss CDO pageant or any of the core fiesta events in years past knows by now, staging an event of such magnitude is no easy task. Several Facebook posts made by US-based Gean Tulang, a former ABS-CBN news director who also got involved in organizing Miss CDO, should give city officials a sobering look into the challenges faced by organizers that would undoubtedly also confront whoever will be in charge of next year’s festivities.

Gean pointed out that ever since the city government allocated P300,000 to P400,000 for the Miss CDO pageant as organizers seek funding for what she described as an ‘over one million peso’ event through sponsorships and ex-deals. ‘Not everything is free…tapal (cover, refund, reimburse etc) is the keyword,’ Gean said, adding that strictly speaking, the organizers earn only prestige, not financial rewards from hosting the Miss CDO pageant.

And i did learn from close friends in media confirming Gean’s points that this year’s Miss CDO pageant is organized by former ABS-CBN colleagues who are genuine professionals. ‘(The organizers) have a free hand looking for sponsors. It’s (their) call if they want a grand event or not. If you don’t get enough sponsors then be ready to subsidize,’ Tulang said.

Considering the two years of losses caused by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, one can be hard pressed looking for sponsors. And City Hall is already pressed enough as they are looking for revenue while assuring no new taxes from business owners and investors. While I wholeheartedly agree that Kagay-anons deserve a city fiesta they can be proud of, I have to acknowledge the work done by the current organizers in the past years which earned prestige not only for them but for the city as well.

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