THE Hotel, Resort and Restaurant Association of Cebu (Hrrac) has welcomed the move to make the Malacañang sa Sugbo another tourist destination.
This as plans to authorize the National Museum (NM) to transform the Malacañang sa Sugbo into a local tourist attraction are proceeding.
“We welcome the new addition of a tourist spot in Cebu as it will bring more offerings for our guests,” Carlo Suarez, Hrrac president, said.
In a press statement issued on July 13, 2019, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino said he had already received “verbal approval” from Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea and Secretary of Finance Carlos Dominguez III to authorize the NM to transform the building into a tourist spot.
The scheduled transformation of the building will coincide with the quincentennial commemoration of explorer Ferdinand Magellan’s arrival in the Philippines that will be celebrated in 2021.
Central Visayas tourism stakeholders continue to bank on the thrust of the government to boost efforts that will attract tourists.
Cebu welcomed 5.57 million tourists in 2018 based on statistics from the Department of Tourism 7.
The Central Visayas region, of which Cebu is a part, itself received a total of eight million tourists last year, both local and international travelers, which contributed P44.2 billion to its economy.
The NM proposes to handle the funding for the maintenance, repair, restoration, conversion, and operation of the building once Malacañang sa Sugbo is turned over to its management.
On June 20, 2019, Evangelina Lourdes Arroyo-Bernas, chairperson of the National Museum board of trustees, had written a letter to Dino expressing interest in reestablishing the presence of the Malacañang sa Sugbo.
“I personally consider the ongoing absence of the NM in the international gateway and educational, cultural and tourism hub of the central Philippines to be incomprehensible and have made rectifying this glaring deficiency one of my top priorities as chairperson.... I am informed that the agency’s current MOOE (maintenance and other operating expenses) appropriations are sufficient to cater to necessary security and basic maintenance in the current fiscal year, and that management and technical staff are ready to formulate a detailed program for necessary infrastructure and equipment capital outlays in time for the 2020 budget,” wrote Bernas.
Formerly known as Aduana building, the edifice was originally built to house the Bureau of Customs (BOC), an attached agency of the Department of Finance.
In 2004, Bernas’ mother, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, converted the building into the Malacañang sa Sugbo, forcing the BOC to move out and hold office at the passenger terminal building owned by the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) beside the Cebu International Port.
The building was left idle after Arroyo’s term ended in 2010, and the BOC Port of Cebu later fought to recover and re-occupy it.
When Bohol and Cebu were hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake in October 2013, the building was heavily damaged.
Last April, after the BOC-Port of Cebu informed Medialdea that the BOC had hired a consultant to prepare a renovation cost for the building, then CPA general manager Angelo Verdan told SunStar Cebu that Malacañang took its office equipment out of the building and turned the building over to the BOC.
Last July, expresing surprise at the news to convert the building into a museum, Shirley Abarintos, OIC-deputy district collector for administration of the BOC Port of Cebu, said the BOC owns the building, and there had been plans to transfer most of the Customs offices there after its renovation. (JOB)