THERE will never be progress without peace.
Mindanao is a perfect example, specifically the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Its people want progress but the historical conflict will always pull down the people's dreams for lasting peace and progress.
The complicated situation that the Islamic region has been experiencing for decades appears to be needing a lifetime of untangling.
But it is never impossible. Never.
Among the provinces covered by ARMM (Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Maguindanao, Tawi-tawi and Sulu), one holds a huge tourism potential -- Tawi-Tawi.
Touted as the southernmost gem of the Philippines, Tawi-Tawi is rich in culture and natural resources, waiting to be tapped and maximized.
Pushing the province as a viable tourist magnet, the Department of Tourism (DOT)-ARMM is working closely with the Provincial Tourism Office of Tawi-tawi to promote the province and change the stigma known to many that the place is unsafe.
"We already had an assessment with all the provinces in ARMM and we came up with the tourism roadmap, there will be massive tourism promotions especially in Tawi-tawi since it appears to be the one that has more tourism potentials among all the provinces," DOT-ARMM Secretary Ayesha Vanessa Hajar M. Dilangalen said in a press conference yesterday in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi in time for the Agal-Agal Festival and Kamahardikaan Sin Tawi-Tawi.
She added that escalating promotion of Tawi-Tawi is but crucial to change the mindset of most Filipinos thinking that the province is synonymous to conflict.
However, she underscored that all tourists interested to explore the province should coordinate with the province and the local government unit for security purposes.
"Generally, Tawi-Tawi is peaceful. We are hoping that everyone, all stakeholders will join hands towards one direction: progress," the secretary said.
Meanwhile, a kidnapping incident happened last Thursday, involving Councilor Ezzedin Suod Tan of Jolo, Sulu as the victim.
Troops are tracking down the whereabouts of Abu Sayyaf Group members who forcibly seized the town councilor.
Sulu is an island province near Tawi-Tawi.
Published in the SunStar Davao newspaper on September 30, 2017.
Latest issues of SunStar Davao also available on your mobile phones, laptops, and tablets. Subscribe to our digital editions at epaper.sunstar.com.ph and get a free seven-day trial.