Celebration of the 3rd MIMAROPA Festival in Odiongan, Romblon
Now on its 3rd year, locals and tourist have yet witnessed the colorful and vibrant annual festivity – the MIMAROPA Festival 2017, held November 20-25, 2017.
MIMAROPA, also known as Region IV-B is a term for the provinces of Mindoro (Occidental and Oriental), Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan.
Everyone was very hospitable and welcoming, starting from the airport until the rest of the program. This was my first time in the province, and my view of it was very limiting – until I stayed there for 3 days.
Touted as the Marble Capital of the Philippines, Romblon has wowed me with their untouched beaches, pristine waters, waterfalls, and ancestral edifices. This year, Out of Town Travel blog was fortunate to fly to Odiongan, Romblon with other media conglomerates and online influencers last November 21-23. Thanks to the Department of Tourism – we were able to experience the annual festivity of their region.
We arrived at Romblon Airport at 9:45 a.m. via Cebu Pacific which offers daily flight from Manila to Romblon. The rest of the media headed to the tranquil Binucot Beach Resort for lunch and water activities.
We then proceeded to Odiongan, Romblon for a press conference at 5 p.m.
A Talk With The Governor
“We are one family. We help each other. We work together. We promote unity” said Romblon Governor Eduardo Firmalo when asked about the vision for MIMAROPA. He said that in terms of its tourism potential, each province are uniquely different.
The preparation for the festival took for almost a year. The Governor shared that the festival’s purpose was not just to promote tourism, but to also promote certain ties, connectivity, and camaraderie with different region. Other purposes include investment, trade opportunities, and establishing jobs.
Firmalo made it to a point to make this festival a multi-purpose one. He was grateful for the cooperation and help of DOT Director Inton to host the festival. He shared that this year’s festival is different from the past ones, that they have included a photo contest, drum and lyre competition, Trade and Tourism Fair, Kabuhayan and Livelihood Business Fair, Marble Festival, Ginoo and Binibining MIMAROPA.
Odiongan City Mayor Trina Firmalo-Fabic added that the MIMAROPA Festival has rekindled old ties, generated income, and stimulated a lot of interest not only in Romblon, but also in other provinces. She has given credits to the national government not only for helping them with hard infrastructures but also with Tourism – specifically with technical assistance. She was also proud to say that from being one of the poorest regions in the country, they have since MIMAROPA’s growth and developments, because of the unity every provinces shares.
Occidental Mindoro Governor Mario Gene Mendiola was also there to grace the press conference. He shared that he was responsible for bringing the tourism officers of different towns hailing from Lubang Islands. “This festival has also opened trading and tourism routes” he added.
He even segued of wishing Firmalo to be Romblon’s permanent Governor to serve its constituents, and continue its project including their hospital which houses the most advances laboratories.
He also announced the 4th MIMAROPA Festival will be held at the northern part of Occidental Mindoro, in Mamburao.
A Must-Visit in Romblon
On our second day, visited the city’s tourist spots such as the Looc Marine Sanctuary and Crackling Monkey Pili Nut Processing Plant. Together with the Depatment of Tourism Officers and other media, we have witnessed how Pili Nuts – imported from the Bicol region – were processed and packaged.
During our visit at the Looc Marine Sanctuary, Team Out of Town blog was fortunate enough to interview the founder of the FARMC, short-term for Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Management Council. The Looc Marine Sanctuary was established in 1999 and became popular to tourists in 2005. There are a total of 35 active volunteers to sustain and conserve the sanctuary.
Inside the raft is a viewing deck for those who want to see fishes and feed them.
The sanctuary is not also for the benefit of tourism but also does a great help for local fishermen because of the supply of fishes in their protected area.
FARMC Vice Chairman Fred, who’s been at the Looc Marine Sanctuary for 17 years told us that snorkeling is allowed around the area but touching the coral reefs and drinking wine are prohibited. He also added that they are now strict when it comes to underwater photography. This 2018, they will be launching the new design and improvement of their float.
We also had lunch at the floating kiosk which made the tour even more special.
Entrance fee at the Looc Marine Sanctuary costs Php 100. Read more about the Looc Marine Sanctuary here.
The Grand MIMAROPA Street Parade
We were also able to witness the MIMAROPA Festival’s street at the Odiongan Town Main road, where different participants competed and danced their way to cheer for their provinces and cities.
At 6 p.m., the incredible showdown competition took place at the Odiongan Sports Complex where thousands of spectators have witnessed the colorful and amazing performances of each participant.
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