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CATAINGAN: BOXING IN THE MIX WITH TOURISM THRUST


PhilBoxing.com




Cataingan, Masbate -- According to stories, men and families from all over Masbate used to flock and rendezvouz in the scenic beach of Cataingan which faces northwestern Samar and Sorsogon for picnics, games and general revelry.

The beach meetings -- 'bagat dagat' in the vernacular -- has recently been made into official festivities with the declaration of "Bagat Dagat Festival" every June 23 and 24 each year. June 24 also happens to be the Feast of Saint John the Baptist where it is customary for people in the Philippines to go to the beaches for a swim.

Cataingan's most prominent son, Antonio Kho, who had served as Masbate governor in the last 9 years, has developed the beachfront, now known as Khokak Beach Resort, to become the center of festivities. Ten air-conditioned 2-bedroom cottages have been constructed to accommodate visitors. The hilly approach going down to the beach had been landscaped and the winding road well-designed to have a breath-taking view of the beachfront, which extends 4 kilometers. An oval road had been constructed encircling the main flat ground area to serve as an all-purpose venue of activities. Still on the drawing board is a convention center as well as a golf course.

During this year's celebration, thousands of people, many of them camping by the seashore days before the festivities and many more came on foot and on horsebacks, have arrived to witness or participate in the scores of events being prepared by the organizers. Masbate, being known as a Rodeo country, it is natural to have horse-racing and horse-fighting events. Among other events are 3-cock derby, live band concerts, acrobatic show, bikini contest, oblation run, fishing expedition, tug-of-war, and of course, boxing.

Top photo: Daryl Puckol of Wakee Salud stable (L) peppered Romnick Rapista of Butuan City with constant snipings throughout the fight.


Wilton 'Tonton' Kho (C) takes his oath as mayor of Cataingan from a judge during the height of the 'Bagat Dagat' festivities. Tonton's father Antonio (L) and mother Elisa (2nd from right) stand behind to witness the proceedings.


A bikini open contestant poses atop a hill overlooking the Khokak Beach Resort.


Well-known Filipino boxing promoter Wakee Salud (L) shown here with Japan's top boxing man Akihito Honda in a Las Vegas photo, was instrumental in bringing the boxing event to Cataingan.


The traditional horse-fighting show.


A tatooing expert keeps busy during the festivities.


RH George (L) and Jun Pangandoyon duke it out in the event's curtain raiser.

"Our main thrust is tourism," said the youthful 21-year-old mayor-elect of Cataingan, Wilton 'Tonton' Kho, son of Antonio. The three-term governor Antonio Kho, ran and won as a congressman of the second district while Antonio's wife Elisa 'Olga' Kho ran and won as governor. The Khos, with their alliances, practically wrested political control of the whole province of Masbate over the Espinosas who had been in power in the last seven decades.

"Masbate has fertile lands but due to its being in a typhoon path, many of our farmers had many times experienced heavy losses," Mayor Tonton continued. "So we try to shift our focus on tourism -- and this 'Bagat Dagat' Festival and the Khokak Beach Resort is our centerpiece and we hope to attract more tourists to come by getting the word out. Of course we will also try to develop our own Manny Pacquiao, that is why we wanted to have boxing into the mix of things," Mayor Tonton said.

Khokak Beach Resort, with its magnificent view, is a work in progress. So is Cataingan, which rose to prominence from its previous sleepy town status with the rise of the Khos. Whether the Khos will become successful or not in their tourism and boxing projects, remains to be seen -- but no doubt they can already claim initial vitory by getting the word out.

Related Story: SUICO, LAGUNA VICTORIOUS IN MASBATE TIFFS



Click here to view a list of other articles written by Dong Secuya.


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