Gwen: Give proper credit to CapitolBy Ador Vincent Mayol
Cebu Daily News
Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia said the Cebu provincial government did more than just host a welcome dinner for athletes of the just-concluded Cobra Ironman 70.3 Philippines.
The Capitol “coordinated” efforts of the four metro cities where sports events were held, she said yesterday.
In a press conference, Garcia emphasized the Capitol’s role in the successful hosting of the Aug. 5 international sports event which had 1,700 athletes competing in swimming, running and bike races through cities of Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Cebu and Talisay.
“We didn’t only give them food. It’s not that I want to grab the credit but give credit where credit is due. It seems that the province turned out to be insignificant. I cannot allow that,” she said, irked by a newspaper report that, according to her, “relegated the province to a very minor role”.
“To set the record straight, the proposal was sent to the Province of Cebu.”
“The Ironman could not have come here had we not had prior trust and confidence built up between the Province of Cebu through its governor Gwen Garcia, and Sunrise Events Inc., the franchise holder for Ironman represented by its president Mr. Fred Uytengsu,” she added.
She said “it all began with Exterra,” the moutainbike-running-swimming races held in Liloan town, which Uytengsu’s group mounted.
She said because it was well hosted in Liloan, organizers were “impressed by the welcome dinner in Exterra” and asked the Capitol to host one for Ironman athletes later, starting a good working relationship.
Garcia showed reporters an Aug. 19, 2011 letter from Sunrise Events Inc. which acknowledged that the Province of Cebu was confirming full support for the staging of the Cobra Energy Drink Ironman 70.3 for three years, from 2012 to 2014 “with the option to extend for another two years.”
It listed 17 “requirements from the Cebu government”.
The list included providing 200 room nights for free (the number was later reduced, she said), service vehicles during the planning stage as well as the event week itself, providing a team to assist the organizing committee, and assistance to the local race director and his team, hosting a welcome dinner for 2,000 participants/sponsors, and providing “at least 500 school children during event day to cheer the participants along the bike and run course.”
Garcia said the Province “coordinated” with local governments for the cheering squads since it doesn’t have its own high school.
Lapu-Lapu City assembled 25,000 cheerers, mostly students, to line the streets on Aug. 5, a sight that Ironman champions repeatedly expressed appreciation for after the races.
“We wish to thank the cities because in each of their own ways, they cooperated,” said Garcia.
“Most of the activities were in Lapu-Lapu. And in fact, Mayor Paz Radaza went out of her way to see to it there would be a fitting welcome to this premier sporting event.”
Garcia said it was logical for private sector organizers to approach the Province which could call the PNP, Mandaue-Mactan Bridge Mangagement Board, and the four cities for coordination meetings.
“The Ironman could not have come here had it not been for the Province of Cebu. But of course we deeply appreciate the whole cooperation of all our local chief executives of the four cities, especially Lapu-Lapu City which hosted the swim event, the run and part of the biking.”
Other requirements were to provide a stage, sound system, portalets, barricades, local marshalls and officials, merchandising areas around Cebu from the airport, the airport welcome with a band and leis, tables and chairs, two-wayradios, Cebu gift bags.
Most of these were provided by the local governments, she said. “The Province coordinated with the LGUs, but we were the ones who requested, them.”
The governor said the Province also took care of closing roads and bridges for the bike and run course and instructed the Department of Works and Highways to pave the roads used in the bike race.