By Floreño G. Solmirano
MASBATE CITY, 8April2014 — Masbate’s Rodeo Festival on Tuesday morning started to gallop for a five-day period of fund and excitement as it features Rodeo National Finals from April 8-12.
The celebration saddled up at 9:00 a.m. with a Grand Rodeo parade that started at the Social Center Triangle and passed through the major roads of this city, where local residents and guests – many clad in cowboy attire from head to foot – lined up waving and amused, especially when horses carrying local and visiting government officials passed them by.
About 100 horses became the kings of the road of the city for at least one hour.
Some 45 participating contingents hopped in to the parade that ended at the Rodeo Arena, about 1,000 square meters in size, where an opening program was held in the presence of at least 2,000 spectators.
In her welcome address, Masbate City Mayor Rowena R. Tuason underscored the partnership between the local government officials – provincial, city and municipal – and the private sector in making the annual festival a success.
The festival is jointly spearheaded by local government officials headed by Gov. Rizalina Seachon-Lanete and the Rodeo Masbateño Inc. led by Judge Manuel L. Sese as president.
Tuason said the annual Rodeo Festival aims to develop the tourism and agricultural potentials of the province and eventually make it the country’s top producer of beef.
Seachon-Lanete described the activity as the country’s biggest rodeo event and that the provincial leaders aspire to make Masbate the biggest tourism hub in the country with the presence of beautiful islands and their white powdery sand beaches and untouched natural beauties.
The Department of Tourism said Rodeo Festival is one of the two nationally recognized festivals in the Bicol region — the other one being the Peñafrancia Festival.
The governor declared the formal opening of the National Rodeo Finals at about 10:15 a.m.
She also led in the lighting of the National Rodeo Finals Urn and the ceremonial cattle branding.
Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda, the event’s guest speaker and concurrently Regional Development Council for Bicol chair, announced to the Mabateños that the Aquino Administration has poured in Php 6.6 billion worth of development projects to the Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (Almasor) Tourist Area, Php 3.5 billion of which went to Masbate to beef up its tourism and agrcultural production.
“Whereas, before, you had felt not being a part of mainland Bicol but instead belonging to the Visayas regions, we have made you realized that you are very much a part of the Bicol region and, together, we will progress as one,” Salceda assured.
He brought along with him the Magayon dancers who performed before admiring Masbateños as they bury their feet while dancing in the newly-plowed arena ground where several games involving cattle were scheduled in the afternoon.
Not to be outdone, the provincial government officials and employees of Mabate displayed their grace in a barn dance.
Aside from Salceda, other guests were Mayor Tito Sarion of Daet, Camarines Norte; Mayor John Bongat of Naga City; Mayor Pat Gonzales-Ulsua of Ligao City; and Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City.
On-going as of press time were the cattle and non-cattle events, bull whipping, load carrying, cattle wrestling on foot, catlle wrestling from horseback, cattle lassoing from horseback, carambola (two persons), carambola (four persons), castling down and bull riding.
Other rodeo fun activities are a scheduled in the next four days.(PNA)