Mar 272015

Brgy San Nicolas celebrated the annual Kaplag-Buwad Festival to commemorate the discovery of the image of the Sto. Nino. (Sun.Star file photo)

LOCAL festivals can be a vehicle for promoting tourism and boosting the economy.

That’s what organizers of the 8th Kaplag and Buwad Festival of Barangay San Nicolas Proper in Cebu City hope to achieve as it celebrates the activity from April 5 to May 10 this year.

“We hope to showcase the cultural and the religious aspects as well as the livelihood component of San Nicolas,” said Cebu City Councilor Gerry Carillo, whose responsibilities include overseeing the social and livelihood services programs of the City Government.

Kaplag commemorates the discovery in 1565 of a Sto. Niño image in the ruins of a fire in the San Nicolas district. The same district is known for its suppliers of buwad or dried fish.

“In fact, this delicacy has become the top homecoming gift or pasalubong by tourists to their families and friends anywhere in the world,” said Carillo.

One of the highlights of the month-long festival is its livelihood component. At least 100 food stalls will be put up so residents of San Nicolas District, composed of Barangays Calamba, San Nicolas, Pahina, Pasil, Suba and Sawang, can sell cooked dried fish and barbecue from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m.

The participants identified by the GSG (Ground Security Group) of 6, the program proponent, will be provided with seed capital of P5,000 on credit, which they can use to purchase items from the commissary set up by the group.

The commissary will exclusively provide all items that will be sold to stall operators at truck prices. All items at the stall will also be sold to the buying public at uniform prices, said Carillo.

The City-assisted activity will also provide free amenities to the participants like space, tents, electricity, nightly band entertainment, tables and chairs for customers, and coolers for the drinks.

Carillo said that participants can earn as much as P5,000 net, every day.

To ensure food safety and sanitation, Manny Ongkiko, the event organizer, said that participants will undergo training on food sanitation and handling. They will also be provided with aprons and T-shirts.

Carillo added that the program guidelines also include training for participants on basic accounting and other basic entrepreneurial skills.

“This livelihood program aims to promote the barangays and showcase their products. We want this activity to become sustainable also because of its historical significance,” said Carillo.

“We also want to boost tourism by giving more reasons for locals and foreign tourists to keep coming back to Cebu after Sinulog with our Buwad Festival,” he added.

If the event succeeds, Carillo and Ongkiko said they might recommend to the City Council to promote the food stalls until the area becomes another Larsian.

The organizers also plan to tie up with travel agencies and tour operators to include the festival in their travel packages and itineraries.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 28, 2015.

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