HIMAMAYLAN CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Congress has yet to pass a law creating the one-island region of Negros but even before that, Raymund Tongson, the young mayor of this southern Negros Occidental city believes the demarcation between the two privinces should not exist.
And for the first time on Sunday, 26 November 2023, in its eighth run in Negros island, the Tour of the Fireflies started on the Oriental side, from Mabinay town and Bais City and ended here with three different races, another first in the Tour.
But Tongson has more ambitious plans in the future and plans to take a shot at the Guinesa World Record for gathering the most numbee of bikers in a single-day race, a feat he hopes to accomplish if Tour officials allow it to return here next year and beyond.
“I wish they would make it stay here in the years to come,” Tongson said shortly after the closing ceremony on the steps of the City Hall here where hundreds of finishers gathered.
For the first time after the COVID pandemic that led to the closing of borders between the two provinces and stringent health measures during races, Tongson travelled early in the morning to Mabinay town, 53 kilometers away here, where he and Mayor Ernie T Uy sent off more than 300 bikers who took part in the Community Ride and Test Race.
The Community Ride was done at a leisurely pace of between 15 to 20 kilometers per hour on the road to here.
Uy, a registered nurse, thanked Tongson and participants for making Mabinay a part of the ride that was also supported by the Provincial Environment Management Office of Negros Occidental province.
Mayor Benjie Miranda of Kabankalan City also supported the Tour as he hosted a brief stopover of the Mabinay riders.
The Mabinay ride also featured a test race during which women and junior boys aged 15 to 19, and junior girls aged 15 and up broke off from the pack and raced to the finish line from Naga, a sub village of barangay Aguisan around 10 kilometers from the Public Plaza.
Tongson also joined the send off with Mayor Luigi Marcel Goñi for around 30 bikers in Bais, a city known as the Christmas capital of Negros Oriental more than 40 kilometers away from Mabinay.
Though smaller in size, these bikers made up the open elite division of mountain and road bikers who raced 93 kilometers through the Bais-Mabinay Road that had, in one part, a continuous climb of 13.5 kilometers, reaching up to 460 meters above sea level at its highest part.
Lawyer and city administrator Romela Napao told DNX they are thankful to host the ride for thr first time as she pounted out that, like Tongson, Mayor Goñi also backs the NIR creation.