Beauty pageant bets to tour Benguet, but some ‘unhappy’
LA TRINIDAD, Benguet, Philippines — Candidates for the Miss Universe Philippines beauty pageant are scheduled to tour the capital of Benguet province as neighboring Baguio City prepares to open its “safest” destinations to visitors for the “Ridge and Reef” travel corridor with the Ilocos provinces.
Fifty candidates, accompanied by their respective entourages, are expected to visit this vegetable trading town for photo shoots on the road to coronation night on Oct. 25.
Because of strict border controls, they will come in two batches on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16. “This will be coordinated with the police for security and to ensure proper health protocols,” said Gov. Melchor Diclas.
The candidates will be billeted at Baguio Country Club.
Valred Olsim, La Trinidad tourism officer, said the candidates would also be treated to a short program at Benguet State University. The preparations dovetailed plans by La Trinidad and the towns of Itogon and Tublay to participate in the travel corridor by opening favorite leisure spots exclusively to residents of Baguio and the provinces in the Ilocos region.
The scheduled visit of the candidates stirred an outrage from netizens, with some saying it was “unnecessary and nonessential.”
Some Benguet and Baguio residents complained that their relatives were stranded outside the Cordillera and could not return home due to strict health protocols and other travel requirements.
“We could only hope that there’s no special treatment [given to the candidates] when it comes to the protocols,” a Baguio resident said.
As of Oct. 2, the La Trinidad task force on the coronavirus said it was not yet ready to receive tourists. The town’s strawberry fields, the favorite attractions, are planted with vegetables, not berries, according to Olsim.
Dr. Genevieve Degay of the municipal health office said their quarantine facilities were full as of last week. “We do not recommend the opening of our town for tourism at this time,” she said.
La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said they had already opened three ecotourism sites for their residents. These are Mt. Kalugong in Barangay Cruz, Mt. Costa in Barangay Puguis and Avong nen Romy in Barangay Wangal, which will be open during weekends but operate half of their capacity.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.