Masbate Rodeo Festival needs support for peace

07:30 PM April 03, 2013

I am very happy with the Department of Tourism’s campaign to promote the Philippines as a tourism destination. Its slogan, “Its More Fun in the Philippines,” is putting the country on tourists’ maps. This, I believe, will help the country earn more income, generate employment and open new business opportunities. (Who knows, after their visit, tourists would end up as investors, too?)

I am a true-blue Bicolano and proud to be one. I sprang from the island province of Masbate, one of the hidden treasures of the country with its undisturbed natural reefs and reserves. The waters of Ticao and Burias passes are very rich in marine resources, which include manta ray and corals.


Masbate, with its vast natural wealth, is described by geologists as a “pot of gold.” Not to mention its strategic location vis-à-vis the Visayas and Mindanao, the area’s cattle ranches make it a major cattle supplier and the country’s Rodeo capital. And the province’s “wackiest” Rodeo Festival, which is held in April of every year, has been drawing a number of tourists.

But despite all its rich natural resources and many tourism come-ons that could be its economic propellers,  my place remains one of the poorest provinces in the country with a poverty incidence of almost 64 percent. The beautiful and once tranquil Masbate has been rocked by political violence that has affected not just a few Masbateños but the province as a whole. Too much politics has destabilized Masbate for decades, and political violence has plunged the province into a a new low with rival political clans hiring goons as “security escorts.”


What worries me so much is the coming 2013 elections. As early as December 2012, Masbate has been identified as an “election hotspot” due to bitter political rivalries and the presence of partisan armed groups  hired by the candidates as bodyguards. What most scares us Masbateños is the report that some political clans have established an alliance with the New People’s Army so they would be allowed to campaign in “NPA zones.” I am apprehensive that this election season will see bloodshed in the province as the previous elections did. (God forbid!)

The campaign period will run into the Rodeo Festival in the province. I earnestly pray for the participation, support, cooperation and commitment of all Masbateños to the effort to draw more tourists into the province for the success of the festival. I appeal to the politicians, goons, NPA rebels and peace-spoilers to, at least for a while, support the festival and stay the hand of violence—after all, this is for the glory of Masbate.

With Masbate in peace, it will be a more livable place, a tourist attraction, an investor’s haven. With its vast resources, it should be on an economic takeoff soon.


Quezon Street, Masbate City

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