Sagada folks okay ‘concert in the clouds ‘ but ask ‘What’s the deal’

>> Sunday, October 8, 2017

By Gina Dizon

SAGADA, MOUNTAIN PROVINCE - Folks from  southern part of this tourist town said ‘yes’ to the publicized ‘concert in the  clouds’  dated October 28 and 29  but comes with the  question ‘what benefits  us’.
Following consultation,  Suyo barangay chairman  Nanette  Alangui  asked  what monetary benefits  shall be given to southern Sagada.
The venue of the concert is located at Maduto grounds within the ancestral domain of southern Sagada  composed of barangays  Suyo, Ankileng,  Taccong, and Nacagang.
The Maduto venue with its quiet atmosphere is a sprawling flat land with limestone rocks and pine-nestled hills at the background and the site occasionally disturbed  with vehicles passing through the Suyo- Balili road at the eastern side of the lot. 
Home to mostly farmer-residents, the southern barangays are accentuated with abundant ricefields, lush pine tree grown mountains and  rivers Bakkong, Pongas flowing to Malitep draining towards the Chico river.
               ‘Concert in the clouds’  aims to raise P6 million from ticket sales aside from  sponsors’ commitments in cash or in kind.       
              The concert projects to  give 10% of the concert proceeds equivalent to to  1.6 million pesos  for  organizational causes of Sagada’s sectoral groups- guides, senior citizens, farmers, and athletes. Concert proceeds aims to be given also for barangay day care centers, children’s playgrounds and art clubs, special education (SPED) for children with disabilities and Red Cross.  
Noting specific benefit for southern Sagada, Alangui said the amount should be specifically noted in the memorandum of agreement (MOA).  The  MOA cites responsibilities of proponents Ed Formoso and partners Sagada Environmental and  Guides Association (SEGA), Sagada  Genuine Guides Association( SAGGAS) and the  Bangaan, Fidelisan, Tanulong, Aguid Madongo Guides Association (BFTAMPGA);  with the monitoring role of the municipality of Sagada represented by the local government officials of the town.
Formoso is a musician-producer-artist from Manila known for having supported the alternative rock band Eraserheads with the production of their debut studio album Ultraelektromagneticpop! containing songs “Toyang”, “Pare Ko”and other hits.
Formoso stays in Sagada and consulted with LGU officials, the Municipal Tourism Council, barangay officials of southern Sagada, innkeepers, guides, and other  individuals since December last year  about  said concert.
Said consultation followed up with a community gathering in southern Sagada first week of October this year.       
National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP)  Sagada- Besao cluster supervisor Andrew Magwilang  said the free prior and informed consent  (FPIC) requirement is on process.   
The scheduled October 28 to 29  projects aims to draw some  5,000  tourist viewers  aside from  the people of Sagada who shall  watch the concert with no need to pay for a ticket. One  ticket costs  P1,000 to  P2,000  pesos each with a ‘no bed- no ticket’  policy.
Projected to generate  P6  million pesos in tickets sales with P4.5 million  production expense, the  concert  shows national  musician-artists namely Gary Valenciano, Joey Ayala, Ely Buendia, Up Dharma Down, Noel Cabangon, Joey Ayala, and Freddie Aguilar.
Sagada has some 150 inns and homestays with a nearly 3000 bed capacity. During  tourist peak seasons like Lent and the Christmas  break, residents open up their homes for visitors to have a room to sleep for a night or two.
Where Sagada lacks rooms for overflowing  tourist arrivals, Inns and homestays of neighboring towns Bontoc, Sabangan,Bauko, Tadian, and Besao are available. The previous Lent season  registered some 4000 visitors for a day in Sagada with some tourists lacking rooms to stay for the night or two.
The setting up of campsites to accommodate tourist-viewers is proposed by the organizers.  The recent Municipal Tourism Council (MTC) meeting however did not object to the statement of Sagada Inns and Homestays Association (SIHA) president Marina Biag that campsites are not tolerated.
Biag said some inns and homestays are  wanting of booking for concert-visitors. With the 'no bed-no ticket' policy of concert organizers and a projected 5000  tourist viewers, inns and homestays in Sagada are expected to be filled up and other accomodations  in neighboring towns.  
Sagada  has a name to get visited.
Sagada is a popular  tourist destination  frequented by  visitors from different parts of the world especially those from the  local areas of the country.  From a 165,000 tourist arrivals in 2016, domestic tourists  top arrivals to a high of 85% with the rest  coming from other countries including France, Asia and  the US.
Tourists visit the country at peak seasons after the rainy season starting October towards the celebration of All Saints and All Souls day characterized by the traditional  'panag-aapoy'  eve of  November 1. 
December also shows high arrivals  last week of December then dwindles on the end of the month. The  fiesta celebration  which falls on the last days of January on to the  first days of February is another crowd drawer jamming the streets for quite some time.
Tourists are a-plenty February on to April with the highest arrivals during the Lent season then dwindles  June on to October.
A top tourist destination, Sagada has a name for people to  visit-  popular  caves and waterfalls and  sights, embraced by a cool weather enticing tourists from hot and sultry lowlands of the country and the bustling metropolis of Manila.
The Municipal Tourism Council headed by  Mayor James Pooten  in their recent meeting with the concert organizers  identified concerns and issues on garbage, traffic, security, accommodation, need for a bond, no campsite, and  disturbance it  gives to the spirits residing in serene Maduto. 
Ensuring the aid identified for beneficiaries, budget for work force and contingency costs were major discussions during said meeting held October 2.
              Councilor Dave Gulian raised the query  of postponing the October concert to a later date considering the refining of identified issues  added to  a drizzling and cloudy weather usually experienced during the last days of October on to November 2.     


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