CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Cagayan de Oro Mayor Rolando Uy on Wednesday, September 7, called on the City Council to take back the Miss Cagayan de Oro franchise city hall gave to a private group so that the local government could again take charge of organizing the pageant beginning 2023.
Uy said this after councilors asked the pageant organizers on Monday to do better and raise their standards, a call sparked by public criticism of the off-key singing by an all-male group that performed on stage during the annual pageant’s August 27 coronation night.
Councilor Edgar Cabanlas, who brought the matter to the attention of the City Council, said organizers also need to ensure a smooth production flow and properly compensate the pageant’s winners and other contestants.
Uy said he shared the same observations and promised to fix the glitches, but only if the City Council revokes the franchise it had given to this year’s organizers.
He said the only way the city government could ensure the quality of the pageant production was for city hall to again take the lead in staging the Search for Miss Cagayan de Oro.
The annual pageant was started in 1928, halted during World War II, and was restaged as the search for the “Miss Star of Liberation” in 1946 when Cagayan de Oro was still Cagayan de Misamis town. It morphed and was staged yearly since then, and became a part of Cagayan de Oro’s August fiesta tradition.
Until this year, the pageant was staged online after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the local government to enforce rules against public gatherings even during the celebration of the annual feast of Saint Augustine, the patron saint of the predominantly Catholic city.
“If the City Council will go for it – take back the franchise – then I will see to it that we fix the glitches. It has to be done with the approval of the City Council,” Uy said.
Uy said he too was disappointed to find out that the top winners of this year’s pageant were only awarded P50,000 each while the other contestants received P10,000 each.
“The prizes were really small, and not at par given that we are a big city,” he said.
Uy said the city government can raise the prizes to motivate the candidates to perform better.
“Preparing and undergoing training for the contest is not an easy task. I understand that they (contestants) spent considerable amounts for their trainers,” Uy said.
But the straw that broke the camel’s back was the off-key singing of the performers who serenaded the contestants during the much-awaited coronation night.
Cabanlas said it was embarrassing for a billionaire city such as Cagayan de Oro to have a major fiesta event with amateurish performances.
In the past, he said, organizers flew in professional and famous singers who wowed the crowds.
The performances – belted out individually and as a group by four men who won prizes in the 2022 Mister Philippines International – were greeted with jeers. One of the performers was the son of one of the organizers.
Cabanlas was also criticized for raising before the City Council what many saw as a petty matter given the bigger problems and pressing concerns of Cagayan de Oro.
But Cabanlas said his critics missed the point.
“We, officials, have accountability. We have to explain because many have been asking. We need to raise standards. We need to review the franchise because we entrusted the major fiesta activity to private event organizers,” Cabanlas said. – Rappler.com