The City of Smiles headed by Mayor Evelio “Bing” Leonardia now has six major festivals in its annual roster with the recent inclusion of the Rum Festival sponsored by Tanduay. This makes Bacolod the city with the most number of major festivals in the Philippines.
Held last August 17 to 24, the week-long event is the first of its kind in the country. Known as the Tanduay Rum Festival, the event paid homage to the humble sugarcane as well as celebrated the Filipinos’ skill in the visual arts, culinary arts, mixology, dance, and music. For eight days, Bacolodnons participated in the Barrel Art Painting contest, basketball court painting, Culinaria and Mixology competitions, 5K Rum Run, float parade, streetdance contest, and a concert headlined by iconic rock band Sandwich.
The Rum Festival was staged after an ordinance was passed declaring the the third week of August as the date for holding the Rum Festival. In the ordinance, its author, former City Councilor Em Legaspi-Ang cited how Bacolod has been dubbed as the “Sugar Capital of the Philippines” and is the “home of the world’s largest selling rum.”
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The Rum Festival joins Bacolod’s major festivals that include the Masskara Festival in October, the Bacolaodiat in January, Diwali in November, Chicken Inasal in May, and Halandumon in June.
Hosting festivals is not something new for Mayor Leonardia, who has been involved with the initial staging of the Masskara Festival—Bacolod’s most popular cultural celebration. He used to head the Masskara Foundation, and he has also worked for the Department of Tourism before running for public office after the EDSA Revolution.
Later on, Mayor Leonardia would come to the realization that the kind of involvement he had with the Masskara Festival was something that he was inclined to do.
When he finally threw his hat into the political arena, he emerged as the number one councilor in his first try. He received a record number of votes, even more than those of the mayor or vice mayor during that time.
In the next election, he won again, this time as vice mayor. When he finally decided to run for mayor, he successfully toppled the ruling dynasty in his city.
Heading the dynamic city of Bacolod, Mayor Leonardia cited his experience working in the Tourism Department as a factor in helping him deal with people and visitors.
In staging the first Rum Festival in the country, Mayor Leonardia it’s only fitting that it should be held in Bacolod.
Mayor Leonardia likewise pointed out that Bacolod is a good place to hold festivals because of its people.
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