WHAT has been known as a conflict-stricken area for decades - Kiblawan, a municipality in Davao del Sur, is fast changing its identity to a more vibrant, developing town that is rich in culture, heritage, and eco-tourism destinations.
Through its flagship program, “Pakigdait Kiblawan: Eco-tourism on the edge”, a two-day festivity that was held last November 10 to 11, the local government unit (LGU) introduced its top hidden treasures from the newly-found tourism and adventure sites, ethnicity of B’laan tribe and to the newly-recognized heritages sites.
The initiative of packaging Kiblawan as a new emerging tourism destination in the region is partnership with the LGU, the Department of Tourism and the National Commission of Arts and Culture (NCCA).
“Davao del Sur, as a whole, is known for just a locality that lacks tourism sites that can be offered to tourists, both foreign and local. With this program, we intend to introduce to the public that Kiblawan can also be considered as we offer them ecotourism and promote appreciation of the environmental and sociocultural aspects of tourism,” Kiblawan Mayor Carl Jason Rama said in an interview.
In identifying these sites, Rama shared that the NCCA assisted them in performing cultural mapping with a P2 million grant.
The program which was launched in 2014 is spearheaded by the Municipal Tourism Council.
“The program with the mapping has become instrumental in the identification, prioritization, establishment and promotion of eco-tourism and heritage sites as well as the development of community-based ecotourism enterprises,” the young mayor added.
Some of the identified potential tourism sites, products, and activities are Ancestral house of the town’s first mayor, lawyer Dominador Magabilen, Sr.; two best trek off-the beaten-road sites: Sigpit River where a moss garden can be found and Amakanin trek where one can try rappelling on its rock wall; B’laan cuisine; biking trail with steep slopes of a long stretch of red hill of Sitio Pulatana, Barangay Waterfall; Nabal and T’nalak, the patterned woven cloth of B’laan and T’boli; handicraft souvenirs in the weaving center; and Lorenza-Amando Farm Resort, among others.
During the two-day celebration, an exhibit showcasing a collection of archival objects that give significance to the lifestyle of the first migrants of Kiblawan and ethnographic tangible objects featuring the B’laan tribe added colors to the festivity.
“We saw Kiblawan, not as the conflict-inflicted area of tribal groups but a destination of potential tourism sites and a hub of business opportunities. This is a work in progress but we hope this initiative will catapult our municipality to the limelight and be recognized nationwide,” he said, adding that he hopes neighboring towns of Davao del Sur will also develop their respective tourism activities as he believes that the province has more to offer in the tourism and cultural arena.