Balikbayans on maiden voyage onboard ‘Dagupan Island Tours'

DAGUPAN CITY -- The balikbayans coming for the “Pawil Dagupan” (Homecoming Dagupan) program will be given the first opportunity to board the three customized flat boats for the Dagupan Island Tours in their maiden voyage along the Pantal and Calmay rivers following their launching on December 22 as part of the Dagupan City Fiesta.

Sharon Maramba, city tourism coordinator, said the “Pawil Dagupan” cruise will be spearheaded by Mayor Belen Fernandez on board the three boats named “Philippines,” “USA” and “China,” bearing separate motifs typical in those three countries.

Maramba said the launching will be done in the newly-built docking area at the Pantal River near the Star Plaza Hotel, before the boats will cruise to the different island barangays, thus the facility is called Dagupan Island Tours.

She called on balikbayans, some of whom are now in the city and are staying in the homes of their relatives, to register and join the “Pawil Dagupan Cruise,” which is being offered to them for free.

Aside from the entertainments to be done on board the boats, the balikbayan will also be treated to a kind of surprise not often seen in Dagupan, Maramba added.

As they will be toured to the different fishing sites in the island barangays, the balikbayan can do side activities like buying fish, feeding the fish and even fishing with the use of hook and line.

The first to register for the "Pawil Dagupan Cruise" are 30 balikbayans who were the first to arrive in the city led by Epee Rafanan from San Francisco, California who is also attending the grand reunion of the Dagupan City National High School.

Maramba said those still abroad were asked to register through the Dagupan website www.dagupan.gov.ph. If they are already in Dagupan, there are forms for these in every barangay hall or ask for copies at the city museum.

She said all the balikbayans will be honored during the "Pawil Dagupan" Night at the city plaza on December 26, coinciding with the coronation of the Miss Dagupan 2014 and her consort.

At the same time, Maramba announced that after its launching, that will be the time that the Dagupan Island Tours will be open to the public but will be charged each at minimum amount that will go to the operations of the facility.

The City Council is, however, yet to pass an ordinance fixing the rates to be charged per customer riding the Dagupan Island Tours.

The Dagupan Island Tours replaced the short-lived Dagupan River Cruise initiated by former mayor Benjamin Lim that ceased to operate when the latter's men pulled out the three flat boats being used by that facility after his defeat in the 2013 election, insisting that these were personally owned by Lim.

This time, however, the flat boats for the Dagupan Island Tours named "Philippines," "USA" and "China" came from funds donated to the City by Unilever, Procter and Gamble, and Kraft; therefore, all owned by the City. (PNA)

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