Treat for Balikbayan

Posted on January 9, 2012

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The Balik Cebu booth opened Friday at the Ayala Center Cebu, a help desk for balikbayans looking for special treats for the Sinulog.

Now on its 12th year, the welcome program for balikbayans includes a barrio fiesta welcome dinner with music and entertainment on Thursday, Jan. 12, where newly crowned Miss Cebu pageant winners make their first official appearance.

At least 300 guests are expected in the dinner, including balikbayans in package tours from the United States. Tickets to the dinner and blue-coded grandstand seats for the Jan. 15 Sinulog parade are on sale at the booth.

An airport welcome, with a rondalla and Sinulog dancers, awaits two flights of 300 balikbayans arriving in the morning of Jan. 12 at the Mactan airport.

Today, 90 balikbayans will arrive from Seattle and Las Vegas.

Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, in the booth opening, recalled the Balik Cebu’s pioneer efforts in 2001, led by Ayala’s Cebu Holdings Inc. to offer a special homecoming experience for balikbayans at a time when political uncertainty discouraged many from preparing the Sinulog in January.

He cited Balik Cebu committee chairman Tetta Baad and former CHI president Rene Almendras, who is now Energy Secretary, for starting the momentum.

Baad said the Barrio Fiesta dinner on Thursday will come with a cultural program of the Handumanan.

“We are happy because this year we have a bigger number from other states like Seattle and Las Vegas. We usually had most guests from California organized by our partner in L.A.,” said Baad.

Dinner tickets at P300 per person are available at the booth.

The Department of Tourism and Globe will also launch on Jan. 12 at the airport the DOT program “Pinoy Homecoming.”

“This will set up online registration systems for the program. Tour packages to destinations around the country will be offered at discount packages for balikbayans who list up,” said DOT Regional Director Rowena Montecillo.

“Balik Cebu has indeed helped in promoting Cebu, which showed in the huge number of tourists that come every January. We’d like to replicate the success of Balik Cebu in attracting tourists in the national level. The Pinoy Homecoming program has already been launched in Clark and Davao.” /Aileen Garcia-Yap, Business Reporter

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