Legazpi readies 2,000 hotel rooms for Mason convention

January 5, 2015 5:28 am 

By Danny O. Calleja

LEGAZPI CITY, Jan. 3 (PNA) -– Over 2,000 hotel rooms have already been reserved here in preparation for the 99th Annual Convention (AnCom) of the Most Worshipful Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of the Philippines that the city will host in April.

All the about 50 hotels, lodging houses and accommodation resorts all over the city, from top to average classes, have been tapped and since these would not be enough, City Mayor Noel Rosal on Friday said “we are also making use of similar establishments in nearby towns like Sto. Domingo, Daraga, Camalig and Guinobatan.”

So far, he said, the 2,122 hotel rooms that have been reserved as part of the preparations would not be enough for the around 7,000 fraternity members and guests who were expected to come.

The preparations are being done jointly by the City Tourism Office (CTO) and the Mayon Lodge No. 61 of the fraternity that Rosal also heads as its Worshipful Master.

Besides, most members who are coming over — representing more than 350 lodges comprising the 50 Masonic districts nationwide — will certainly bring along their families for them to experience the “fun and adventure” that the city offers to tourists and visitors.

“This is why we are extending our reach beyond the city for more accommodation reservations,” Rosal said.

The city won in the bidding for the hosting of the 2015 grand gathering which was decided by members during the 98th AnCom held at SMX Mall of Asia in April 25 last year.

Mayon Lodge No. 61 was able to convince the Grand Lodge that the city is very much capable of hosting this big event based on the availability of standard and world-class accommodation facilities and venues for the various activities of the AnCom, Rosal said.

The venue of the convention will be the Ibalong Center for Recreation, a huge stadium owned by the city government that can conveniently accommodate a gathering of around 10,000 people in one occasion.

And since the AnCom does not go without a sports fest, fun games, gaiety and tours, Legazpi, which is now known in the world’s travel industry as the “City of Fun and Adventure,” is exactly the best place for the gathering, according to Rosal.

Participants, he said, would surely enjoy the cool ambiance of Legazpi Boulevard for their leisure walks and physical fitness activities during their stay.

The boulevard is a coastal road network extending from the city’s central business district and port area to its southern barangays that is a favorite recreation area for the city owing to its cool, fresh sea breeze gently blowing from the gulf.

It is considered the longest outside Manila and one of the most picturesque seaside roads in the Philippines, with a spectacular view of the Mayon Volcano and Albay Gulf.

Along the boulevard lies the Kapuntukan Hill, a historical landmark also called the “sleeping lion,” where a monument of great Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi stands near its foot.

The Ligñon Hill Natural Park, a 156-meter peak, is another place to visit as it features a carefully-designed landscape that caters to restaurants and shops on its summit that offers sightseers a panoramic 360-degree view of the entire city, its neighboring towns of Daraga and Sto. Domingo, Albay Gulf and the southern slopes of Mayon Volcano.

Certainly, Rosal said, they were not going to skip Embarcadero de Legazpi, a privately-owned Php 1-billion world-class waterfront lifestyle hub at the city harbor, the first of its kind in Southern Luzon.

With a beaming search light on top of its shimmering lighthouse and colorful lights reflecting on seawater, nocturnal party-goers are drawn to this new-found haven where serene nature meets stylish urban living.

More than a venue for shopping, dining, and entertainment, Embarcadero is also home to one-of-a-kind adventure sport, the 350-meter zipline from a lighthouse over the Albay Gulf.

The AnCom will be the biggest event, so far slated in Bicol, particularly here this year, which is also expected to be graced by foreign dignitaries coming from various Lodges abroad.

This will only be one among the dozens of big local, national and international gatherings that the city is expecting to host during the year as it relentlessly pursues the recognition of being the “convention capital of the Philippines.”

While it has been playing host to big occasions, the city at the same time caters to an influx of investments and massive urban development that continuously attract travelers.

“Our quest for preference as venue of big national and international gatherings is anchored on our being highly capable now of hosting and properly handling friendly visitors from any part of the world,” Rosal said, as he assessed the city’s chance of capturing a slot in the five top convention centers in the country.

As seen in the assessment, he said, the city has been making it to its best as it considers all those past events as additional inspiration for the local government and for every Legazpeño to strive more toward finally achieving the ‘convention capital of the Philippines’ recognition.

It is not an ambitious goal as, according to Rosal, the city has the attributes leading to such recognition, given its being adjudged last October as one of the three most livable cities in the country for its far-reaching innovations that inspire a more dynamic development of the city into a very safe and healthy locality for its people and visitors as well.

The recognition came from the Livable City Challenge, sponsored by the United States Assistance for International Development and organized by the National Competitive Commission, APEC 2015 National Organizing Council, World Wildlife Fund, Alliance for Safe and Sustainable Reconstruction and Asia Society and Urban Land Institute.

So far, as of this week, the CTO has already listed nine big conventions and conferences for the city’s hosting early this year, among them the Masonic AnCom, a yearly activity that provides the opportunity for the international fraternity to revisit past accomplishments, enable it to come up with strategies and set the directions for the incoming Masonic year.

Freemasonry is the oldest and largest fraternity in the world and uses the ancient tools and symbols of masons to teach timeless lessons about ethics and morality.

Freemasons believe in the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the brotherhood of man.

Freemasonry strives to teach a man the duty he owes to God, his country, his neighbor, his family and himself, Rosal said. (PNA)

RMA/FGS/DOC/CBD/SSC

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