NEIGHBORING Badian and Alegria towns are currently locked in a dispute over boundary, specifically for the area that has become a popular tourist destination for canyoneering. The dispute, though, is not intensely antagonistic, judging from the steps their officials have taken to solve the conflict. Both towns are asking the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to conduct a survey even as the Provincial Government seeks a “happy compromise” on the issue.
Canyoneering in Badian and Alegria is popular and has been featured in at least one national TV show. The problem is that tour packages there sometimes involved only one town to the exclusion of the other. Badian officials contend that four of seven canyoneering jump-off stations are in their town while Alegria officials claim all seven stations are in Alegria.
The canyoneering site includes the Canlaob River that meanders from a barangay in Badian to a barangay in Alegria and ends in Kawasan Falls, which is in Badian. Which means that boundary is not the only problem but coordination.
In the old days, nobody would have bothered about the nitty-gritty of boundary in what can be considered a largely undeveloped hinterland area. But the face of the province has changed considerably since the Capitol, under the previous governor Gwendolyn Garcia, waged an aggressive tourism promotion that sparked the search for and development of potential tourist sites in the towns and component cities.
But Gov. Hilario Davide III should view this conflict as not only a boundary dispute between Badian and Alegria but also as a sign that the old way of doing things may no longer be applicable. The aggressive promotion has succeeded in raising people's awareness of the tourist destinations in the towns and component cities. The next step is to make these tourist destinations truly worth visiting by also raising the quality of the facilities and services offered.
On this, Capitol should gather all the stakeholders to identify the problems and map out concrete solutions. That should help raise the tourism program of the province to the next level.