TO BOOST its “Explore MisOr” tourism campaign, the provincial government of Misamis Oriental will embark on a multi-million peso series of projects to develop new tourist spots and upgrade existing ones.
To realize this undertaking, the provincial tourism office has proposed a P159 million worth of infrastructure projects that will develop tourist destinations in the province.
Lawyer Jeffrey Saclot, the provincial tourism officer, said the amount is up for deliberation and approval by the Provincial Board. Once green-lighted by the provincial board, it will then be included in the 2019 budget.
This year, the Provincial Government has already released millions of pesos for the upkeep of existing tourist destinations, Saclot said.
Tourism is the priority program of Gov. Yevgeny Vincente Emano whose aim is not just to develop and promote the province’s tourist spots but also for the communities living within the sites to be empowered through tourism.
Among the sites that will be further developed are the Sagpulon Falls in Jasaan town, which will need P10 million for construction of open and close cottages and for other amenities.
Aside from the local government fund, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) has also set aside P10 million for the trail going to Sagpulon Falls and will be releasing the amount soon once the paperwork is concluded, Saclot said.
Another P10 million for the jump-off point and boardwalk going to the Agutayan reef, also in Jasaan, was already earmarked.
The upgrading of the Alibuag Cold Spring in Medina town, he said, will be made possible with the P10 million funding, while the Provincial Government has pledged P3 million for the construction of additional cottages in Alibuag Beach Resort in the municipality of Sugbongcogon.
Although Saclot did not mention an allocation for the Lagbas ancestral house in Sugbongcogon, he said the provincial tourism office is working for this tourist destination to be declared as a national cultural heritage site by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The Our Lady of Lourdes shrine in Binoangan town, he said, was included in the development efforts, with the area being considered as one of the religious tourism sites in the province. The province will be building a swimming pool near the shrine worth P5 million.
Two mountain resorts in Naawan town, the Bolyok Spring and the Mahangob Falls, will be developed using the P10 million fund already allocated for these sites.
The famous “bibingka” (rice cake) of the municipality of Manticao, meanwhile, will be further promoted through packaging and marketing, he said.
“We’ve recommended the [Gov. Emano] to put up a ‘pasalubong center’ in the province and he is very positive about this,” Saclot said, adding that Steag, a power-generating company, is set to donate P10 million for the project.
Saclot said the “pasalubong center” (souvenir shop) will be located either in Alubijid or Laguindingan and will serve as final stop for local and foreign tourists before going to the airport in Laguindingan.
“At the ‘pasalubong center’ we will not just be selling ‘bibingka’ but all the products and delicacies of the province,” he added.
Saclot said they will also be helping the barangay and municipal governments of Laguindingan to expand the Tubajon Aquamarine Park, which recently won in a nationwide competition for the cleanest coastline.
“We want to preserve the ecotourism setup there (Tubajon), that means no concrete structures, just bamboo and other native materials, and we are planning on expanding the mangrove plantation,” he said.
In fact, he said, the park was chosen as one of the destinations of the delegates of the Atop convention in October, with participants coming from all cover the country.