For moving on, a tourist bus

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Sunday, November 11, 2012


A TOWN whose mayor the governor criticized for poor upkeep last year has landed in the top 10 performing local government units in the e-Gwen program and will receive a tourist bus today.

“It served as a challenge, kadtong iyang panaway sa among lungsod (when the governor criticized our town),” said Medellin Mayor Ricky Ramirez, who admitted he was red-faced on that December day, when Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia visited the northern town and the legislators held their out-of-town session there.

Another tourist bus recipient will be Barili Mayor Teresito Mariñas. The mayor is thankful, saying they have institutionalized the e-Gwen program in their locality.

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“We will utilize this (bus) for our tourism package,” said Mariñas, whose town is also one of the top 10 performers.

Mariñas and his Vice Mayor Marlon Garcia, the governor’s younger brother, are at odds and their conflict has already reached the courts.

26 new buses

At the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association (CVRAA) opening salvo in Asturias today, the governor will distribute 26 new tourist buses to top-performing local government units (LGUs) in the Expanded-Green and Wholesome Environment that Nurtures (E-Gwen).

Launched in the third quarter of 2008, the program brought a team of evaluators to assess programs of Cebu’s 51 local government units (LGUs) in the areas of cleanliness, sanitation and health; greening, protection and enhancement of the environment; creativity, artistry and aesthetic impact; and appreciation, promotion and nurturing culture and heritage.

Along with Medellin and Barili, the top 10 e-Gwen performers are San Francisco, Tabuelan, Liloan, Oslob, Carcar City, Danao City, Alegria and Argao.

Ramirez, a mayor of a second-class town with around 50,000 residents, said that after being scolded by the governor last year, he gathered all the school administrators, barangay captains and purok leaders to a meeting.

“I told them that we will prove to the governor and the rest of Cebu that we can do it,” Ramirez recalled.

In her visit to his town last December, the governor noted that not all the streets of Medellin were lined with ornamental plants. Some streets were not well-maintained.

“We were labeled as the tail-ender,” Ramirez said, when his town was rated the last LGU in the third round of the e-Gwen assessments. They joined the Pasigarbo sa Sugbo festival for the first time last August.

Ready for more tourists

Now that they will have a tourist bus, he said, “Di na ta mauwaw kung naa tay (We will no longer be ashamed when we welcome) high-end visitors.”

Branding itself as “Funtastic Medellin”, the town is now considered one of the tourist destinations in the north. It has two golf courses, Gibitngil Island, a zip line and resorts.

In Barili, on the other side of the province, one of the major tourist attractions is the Mantayupan Falls.

“We also have a religious site in Barangay Mayana,” said Mayor Mariñas, referring to the monastery there.

He said they were the first to submit to the Capitol their tourism package, which includes a list of lodging houses, a tour itinerary, and cost estimates.

Other recipients of the tourist buses will be Talisay and Naga Cities and Sibonga town in the first district; Dumanjug, Alcantara, Moalboal, Malabuyoc, Boljoon, Alcoy and Dalaguete in the second district; Toledo City and Asturias in the third district; and San Remigio, Daanbantayan, Bantayan and Madridejos in the fourth district.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on November 11, 2012.

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