THE most lucrative industry in the world has been badly hit by the pandemic. The hooting in tourism came to a drastic halt because travel is restricted. Covid-19’s Santa Muerte, the “patrona de la perdicion” (patroness of doom), caused terror and fear in the hearts of businessmen and travelers.
In Western Visayas, the regional director of the Department of Tourism, Atty. Helen Catalbas, stood firm on her ground and proudly waved the flag of tourism... no retreat, no surrender to Covid-19. Just be careful. Tourism in Region VI should be active and should not be kept in the reliquary.
Tintin Mansinares, the former tourism officer of Negros Occidental, is now the chief of the Tourism Development Division of DOT-Region VI. Her latest task is to facilitate the hosting of an on line learning session for tour guides on storytelling in August.
She is encouraging all LGU tourism officers to enhance their programs in preparation for the resurrection of tourism under the new normal. The work will be more challenging because of health protocol. Marketing and promotions will be on virtual platform.
Here in Negros Occidental, Dr. Jenny Cordero of the Provincial Tourism Office, has been going around the LGUs with Tim Ticar of DOT VI to check the physical condition of tourism facilities and to speed up their accreditation. Dr. Cordero sees to it that the “Abanse Turismo” program of the Lacson Administration is in place with full support from the mayors and the business sector.
Classic example is the initiative of the entrepreneurs in Silay City. A group of young Silaynons put their acts together to reopen “Larga Cafe,” a small but wholesome place where people can dine, drink or enjoy cups of coffee in an atmosphere that blends Old Silay with a landscape of modernity. Just make your reservation, or a first-come, first served policy can be made available for the early birds.
For the groups who may want storytelling on Silay’s classic “chismorreo” (gossip) that is historical and cultural, proper arrangement could be made with former councilor Solo Locsin so that he can invite his friends who are adept on “cronica de sociedad” as resource persons for a minimal professional fee. Solo’s house is just nearby.
Silay is still the place for food and delicacy hunting (aliment tourism). El Ideal Bakery still haunts your appetite with its buko pie, guava-apple pie, lumpia ubod and an array of heavenly cookies. Mariel’s bakery still takes pride of its best lubid-lubid and other freshly baked bread. The House of Emma Lacson kitchen’s crisp pili square, piquant empanada, mouthwatering ubod lumpia, angel cake and scrumptious panyo-panyo are still the best sellers.
For the rovers, Balaring shoreline restaurants are still at their finest if you are into fish sinigang, shrimp kinilaw, gambas, grilled pork liempo, sizzling bangus, talaba and buttered squid. Their telephone numbers are available at the internet. The delectable food could be delivered within Silay City proper and reservations for small groups could be arranged.
“Paseo Excursionismo” is offered in Silay’s tourism loop that covers the areas of Patag and Lantawan. Motorists, bikers and cyclists could have their coffee stop in varied food shops that offer the romantic view of the verdant forest. Your jaunt at the loop will energize you after you have been quarantined for longer days.
Before going down from the loop, the excursionists could drop by at the farmers’ stalls along the road to buy vegetables, sweet potatoes, bananas, coconuts and other fresh harvest from the acreage. If there is an early arrangement, some farmers in Patag can even accommodate the visitors in their vegetable gardens or strawberry green houses. Dolping’s cacao tablea is also worth buying if you are looking forward to a pure ground cacao taste.
That could be our alternative tourism under the pandemic. Travel in small groups and observe strictly health protocol. That could be the reason why the Department of Tourism is strict on facility accreditation. Here in Negros, we have the association of tour guides to assist you under the leadership of Jason Tan of T3 Center Tour. Tourism is fun and it could be more fun if we are extra careful.