Historically, Malaysian kaya tayo?…kung hindi matanggap, eh di, “Aeta” na lang!

Historically, Malaysian kaya tayo?
…kung hindi naman matanggap, eh di, “Aeta” na lang!
Ni Apolinario Villalobos

Kung gagayahin ng Malaysia ang pamimilosopo ng Tsina sa pag-angkin ng halos lahat ng mga bahura o reefs sa West Philippine Sea at karagatan mismo, ay kaya nilang gawin, kung ibabatay pa rin sa kasaysayan. Nakasaad kasi sa history books na ginagamit sa mga eskwelahan sa Pilipinas ang tungkol sa “Ten Bornean Datus” na nakarating sa Visayas, particularly sa Panay Island, at doon ay nadatnan nila ang mga “Aeta” sa pamumuno ni Marikudo na nagbenta sa kanila ng lupang matitirhan. Ang mga “Aeta” o “Ati” sa salitang Bisaya ay maliliit na taong kulot ang buhok, sarat ang ilong, at maitim ang balat. Ibig sabihin, ang mga “Aeta” ang talagang mga lehitimong katutubo ng Pilipinas.

Noong panahon ni Marcos, napag-alamang may mga dapat baguhin sa mga nilalaman ng mga libro tungkol sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. May ginawa na kaya rito ang nanahimik na National Historical Commission? Bakit hindi rin sila kumikibo sa isyu ng West Philippine Sea na may kinalaman sa kasaysayan? Bakit hindi nila opisyal na ituwid ang mga maling itinuturo sa mga bata? Kulang kaya sa budget? Naibulsa din kaya ng mga kawatan ang budget nila? Yong DepEd naman at CHED, busy ba sa pag-apruba ng maraming workbook na hindi na magagamit uli?

Ang nangyayari sa West Philippine Sea ay dapat isisi sa unang gumawa ng mapa ng mundo kung saan ay nakasulat ang “South China Sea”, kaya akala tuloy ng mga Intsik ay kanila ang malawak na karagatang ito dahil may pangalan nila. Kung nakaisip ang mga cartographer noon ng “Pacific Ocean” at “Atlantic Ocean”, bakit hindi sila nakaisip ng ibang pangalan sa halip na “South China Sea”, ganoong napakalayo na nito sa mainland China? Intsik din kaya ang gumawa ng mapa?

Ang dapat namang sisihin sa haka-hakang nanggaling ang lahi ng Pilipino sa Malaysia, ay ang nagpangalandakan ng “Ten Bornean Datus”, dahil gusto lang yata niyang magkaroon ng kulay ang librong isinulat, kaya nilagyan ng ganitong kwento. Pati ang “katotohanan” tungkol sa Kalantiaw Code ay pinagdudahan na rin. Subalit ang masaklap ay ginamit pa ang kasaysayan sa isang TV series na “Amaya” kaya lalong nag-ugat ng malalim ang pinagdudahang mga pangyayari noong unang panahon. Aliw na aliw naman ang mga nanonood dahil kay Marian Rivera! Ganyan na ba kababaw ang Pilipino?

At dahil sa ugali ng Pilipino na malikhain, pinagbatayan pa ng isang relihiyosong festival ang pagdating ng mga datu sa Panay. Gumawa sila ng “Ati-atihan”, isang nakalilitong festival dahil hindi malaman kung saan nakasentro ito… kung sa Sto. Niῆo o sa mga “Aeta”. Narambol din ang mga costume, kaya nagpapaligsahan na lang sa pagka-outlandish at kulay. Bakit hindi nililinaw ng simbahang Katoliko at ahensiyang may kinalaman sa kasaysayan ang mga kalituhang ito? Dahil ba naging tourist attraction na?

Pero, para safe ang mga nagpi-festival na lunsod…yong sa Iloilo, tinawag na “Dinagyang”…yong sa Cebu, tinawag na “Sinulog”. Samantalang, itinuloy na lang ng Kalibo, tunay na pinanggalingan ng festival na ito, ang dati nang tawag na “Ati-Atihan”. Kalaunan, naging generic na rin ang katawagan, dahil basta may mga costume at street dancing, ang festival ay itinuturing na “ati-atihan”. Yan ang isa sa mga malinaw na katunayan tungkol sa ating nakalilitong pagkakakilanlan.

Ngayon, kung hindi matanggap na ang ninuno ng mga Pilipino ay ang mga “Aeta” na dinatnan ng mga datu galing Borneo, ibig sabihin, mga Malaysian kaya tayo? Ang malinaw kasi, hindi tayo Kastila, Amerikano, o Hapon – mga lahing umalipin sa atin. Ang pagkaroon ng kulay ng mga Pilipino, na kayumangging mapusyaw, o tisayin at tisuyin ay resulta lamang ng mga pambubuntis na ginawa ng mga dayuhang ito sa mga babaeng native noon kaya nahaluan ang dugo nila at ang resulta ay ang mga sumunod na henerasyon.

Malinaw ang kalituhan natin sa tunay na pagkakakilanlan ng ating lahi. Kaya sa kalituhan, madalas ayaw aminin ng mga Pilipinong nasa abroad na sila ay galing sa lahing sinakop ng ibang bansa. At, ang ganyang kahinaan din ang magpapalaho ng ating lahi kung hindi tayo magkakaisa dahil lamang sa magkaibang paniniwala sa Diyos na isinalaksak lang din sa kaisipan ng ating mga ninuno noong panahon ng pananakop. Ang katatagan ng isang lahi ay nakasalalay sa katatagan din ng tunay na identity nito. Kung nakakalito ang identity, hindi buo ang pagkatao ng mga taong tinutukoy ng lahi.

Sa isang banda, kung sa Amerika naman nakatira ang nagdi-deny na Pilipino siya, para sa akin ay okey lang…kung TNT siya!…o Tago Ng Tago! Mag-ingat lang siya dahil maari siyang ipagkanulo ng kalahi niya kapalit ang ilang pirasong berdeng pera na kung tawagin ay dolyar!

Rediscover the Philippines Through Scuba Diving

Rediscover the Philippines

Through Scuba Diving

By Apolinario Villalobos

The Philippine archipelago that comprises more than seven thousand islands and islets, is something to behold from air – islands fringed with white beaches, rolling hills, mountains capped with green, with some hills and valleys showing patches of green and brown , strewn between the Pacific Ocean and China Sea. During the 80’s, the joint effort of the national government and the private sector comprised of Philippine Airlines, scuba diving outfits and travel agencies, resulted to the creation of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, with the Special Committee for the Development and Promotion of Underwater Diving Tourism as its action arm. From the end of Philippine Airlines, the representative was its Tours and Promotions Division, with its personnel, Edgar Buensuceso, Julio Luz and Thelma Villaseῆor. That was the outlook of dive tourism when the industry was yet, kicking high.

Today, with or without joint effort between the government and private sector, the country deserves to be re-discovered because of the vast paradise that covers its ocean floor. With some 34,000 square kilometers of coral reef, the Philippines could well be dubbed as the scuba diver’s haven. From the northern islands down to the atolls of the south, what the country brags virtually make it the ultimate destination for this aquatic sport. The geography of the country may make one’s movement seemed hampered. But who cares if at the end of a grueling cruise or a combined air and land travel a submarine paradise beckons?

If one may start with the northern islands, there’s Fuga to try. It is a part of the northernmost province – Batanes. Then going down to Pangasinan, there’s Santiago Island off Bolinao. On the eastern cost of northern Luzon are Polilio Islands of Quezon Province. All these are accessible via land transport, except for Fuga, going to which would need a chartered plane.

South of Manila are dive sites which are accessible via Batangas City. The veritable subaquatic gardens of Nasugbu, Balayan Bay, Verde Island, Anilao coast, and Sigayan Bay, practically fringe the coast of Batangas province.

Mindoro, an island of two provinces south of Batangas, also has colorfully-alive marine parks to offer. These areas are those around Lubang Islands, Apo Reef and Semirara, all on the western side of Mindoro. On the eastern side are the equally colorful coral beds of Puerto Galera and Buyallo.

Marinduque, the “Moriones Island”, has Tres Reyes and Mompog to offer. The island province is accessible by air and combined land and water transport, either through Lucena City or Gasan.

The surrounding waters of Visayas region are replete with motley colonies of corals inhabited by pelagic fishes. Romblon, for instance, has Dos Hermanas and Cresta de Gallo; Antique and Aklan with their Batbatan and Boracay. Cresta de Gallo and Sicogon Islands of Iloilo, also have memorable dive experience to offer, and there’s yet, Nagas Island to complete this old province’s list of dive spots.

A marine sanctuary, Sumilon Island, is easily reached from Dumaguete City, although, it is geographically part of Cebu. The sanctuary is being maintained by the Silliman University. Another island which is frequented by divers in this part of the country is Apo which is also just a short distance from Dumaguete.

Cebu, the country’s seat of Christianity prides in its dive sites that attract hordes of divers throughout the year, except for Capitancillo, an islet which is at its best from April to October. From Mactan Island in the north to Pescador Island in the southwest and the Danajon Banks, there seemed to be not just enough time for exploration. A popular snorkeling and diving destination among shoestring-budget tourists in this island is Moalboal which is noted for its laid back atmosphere.

From Cebu, Bohol is just a few hours on a ferry. This Chocolate Hills-famed island-province has added two of its islets, Cabilao and Panglao to the already long list of destinations which divers have been frequenting. Both are resplendent with colorful marine life throughout the year. Aside from the ferries from Cebu, the island-province is also accessible from Manila on regular daily flights.

The diagonally-lying island of Palawan is gifted by Nature with atolls and islets, some of which are not yet thoroughly explored. These are the Calamianes Island, Cuyo Islands, Cagayan Islands, Green Island Bay, Bacuit Bay, Ulugan Bay, Honda Bay, Balabac Island, Taytay Bay, and Tubbataha Reef. Down south in Mindanao, divers will delight in Davao’s Talikud Island, Zamboanga’s Sta. Cruz Island and the island sanctuary of Camiguin.

Most of the dive sites in the Philippines are yet in their unspoiled stage, thanks to their almost impossible accessibility. The rest, however, are frequently visited, so that concerned local governments have already started to impose strict regulations.

Interested parties are advised to make advance arrangement with dive shops if they intend to visit islands and reefs so that necessary coordination and clearances can be made with concerned government agencies. Dive packages are also offered by some tour agencies. Some resorts, however, such as those in Anilao (Batangas), Boracay, and Puerto Galera, offer on- the- spot arrangements. Seaside hotels Cebu can assist visitors with their dive requirements.

With tourism as among the last resort revenue earning industries of the Philippines, much effort is exerted by both the national government through the Department of Tourism and the different concerned private sectors in regulating it along the line of ecology.

Rediscover the Philippines Through Scuba Diving

Rediscover the Philippines

Through Scuba Diving

By Apolinario Villalobos

The Philippine archipelago that comprises more than seven thousand islands and islets, is something to behold from air – islands fringed with white beaches, rolling hills, mountains capped with green, with some hills and valleys showing patches of green and brown , strewn between the Pacific Ocean and China Sea. During the 80’s, the joint effort of the national government and the private sector comprised of Philippine Airlines, scuba diving outfits and travel agencies, resulted to the creation of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, with the Special Committee for the Development and Promotion of Underwater Diving Tourism as its action arm. From the end of Philippine Airlines, the representative was its Tours and Promotions Division, with its personnel, Edgar Buensuceso, Julio Luz and Thelma Villaseῆor. That was the outlook of dive tourism when the industry was yet, kicking high.

Today, with or without joint effort between the government and private sector, the country deserves to be re-discovered because of the vast paradise that covers its ocean floor. With some 34,000 square kilometers of coral reef, the Philippines could well be dubbed as the scuba diver’s haven. From the northern islands down to the atolls of the south, what the country brags virtually make it the ultimate destination for this aquatic sport. The geography of the country may make one’s movement seemed hampered. But who cares if at the end of a grueling cruise or a combined air and land travel a submarine paradise beckons?

If one may start with the northern islands, there’s Fuga to try. It is a part of the northernmost province – Batanes. Then going down to Pangasinan, there’s Santiago Island off Bolinao. On the eastern cost of northern Luzon are Polilio Islands of Quezon Province. All these are accessible via land transport, except for Fuga, going to which would need a chartered plane.

South of Manila are dive sites which are accessible via Batangas City. The veritable subaquatic gardens of Nasugbu, Balayan Bay, Verde Island, Anilao coast, and Sigayan Bay, practically fringe the coast of Batangas province.

Mindoro, an island of two provinces south of Batangas, also has colorfully-alive marine parks to offer. These areas are those around Lubang Islands, Apo Reef and Semirara, all on the western side of Mindoro. On the eastern side are the equally colorful coral beds of Puerto Galera and Buyallo.

Marinduque, the “Moriones Island”, has Tres Reyes and Mompog to offer. The island province is accessible by air and combined land and water transport, either through Lucena City or Gasan.

The surrounding waters of Visayas region are replete with motley colonies of corals inhabited by pelagic fishes. Romblon, for instance, has Dos Hermanas and Cresta de Gallo; Antique and Aklan with their Batbatan and Boracay. Cresta de Gallo and Sicogon Islands of Iloilo, also have memorable dive experience to offer, and there’s yet, Nagas Island to complete this old province’s list of dive spots.

A marine sanctuary, Sumilon Island, is easily reached from Dumaguete City, although, it is geographically part of Cebu. The sanctuary is being maintained by the Silliman University. Another island which is frequented by divers in this part of the country is Apo which is also just a short distance from Dumaguete.

Cebu, the country’s seat of Christianity prides in its dive sites that attract hordes of divers throughout the year, except for Capitancillo, an islet which is at its best from April to October. From Mactan Island in the north to Pescador Island in the southwest and the Danajon Banks, there seemed to be not just enough time for exploration. A popular snorkeling and diving destination among shoestring-budget tourists in this island is Moalboal which is noted for its laid back atmosphere.

From Cebu, Bohol is just a few hours on a ferry. This Chocolate Hills-famed island-province has added two of its islets, Cabilao and Panglao to the already long list of destinations which divers have been frequenting. Both are resplendent with colorful marine life throughout the year. Aside from the ferries from Cebu, the island-province is also accessible from Manila on regular daily flights.

The diagonally-lying island of Palawan is gifted by Nature with atolls and islets, some of which are not yet thoroughly explored. These are the Calamianes Island, Cuyo Islands, Cagayan Islands, Green Island Bay, Bacuit Bay, Ulugan Bay, Honda Bay, Balabac Island, Taytay Bay, and Tubbataha Reef. Down south in Mindanao, divers will delight in Davao’s Talikud Island, Zamboanga’s Sta. Cruz Island and the island sanctuary of Camiguin.

Most of the dive sites in the Philippines are yet in their unspoiled stage, thanks to their almost impossible accessibility. The rest, however, are frequently visited, so that concerned local governments have already started to impose strict regulations.

Interested parties are advised to make advance arrangement with dive shops if they intend to visit islands and reefs so that necessary coordination and clearances can be made with concerned government agencies. Dive packages are also offered by some tour agencies. Some resorts, however, such as those in Anilao (Batangas), Boracay, and Puerto Galera, offer on- the- spot arrangements. Seaside hotels Cebu can assist visitors with their dive requirements.

With tourism as among the last resort revenue earning industries of the Philippines, much effort is exerted by both the national government through the Department of Tourism and the different concerned private sectors in regulating it along the line of ecology.

Moalboal: Cebu’s Hidden Gem

Moalboal: Cebu’s Hidden Gem

By Apolinario Villalobos

For a strange sounding place like Moalboal which most Filipinos do not even know where such can be found, a shrug is the usual reaction. But if Europeans and Japanese divers have liked it so much that they come back year after year, then, it must be something extraordinary for a place. It is far from Cebu and the road is semi-rugged but still this exotic-sounding southwestern town of Cebu draws the interest of most foreign sea lovers.

According to a folktale, the name Moalboal came from the word “bukal-bukal”, mispronounced by a woman with a cleft palate, when she thought that a Spaniard for the name of the place, but thinking that she was being asked here where she fetched her water. Because of her impairment in speech, she told the Spaniard that that the water came from “moal-moal”.

The folk hero of the Moalboalnons was Laguno Sabanal, a warrior from Bohol who came to settle in the village with his family. It was alleged that he was protected by a prayer which in the dialect is called “yamyam”, that could deter enemies from harming him. It was tested when the village was invaded by Moros from Mindanao. He told the men of the village to throw coconut husks into the sea and with a prayer, he made the invaders perceive them as warriors swimming towards them. In haste, the Moros left and did not bother the village anymore. When he died, it was said that he was buried beside a spring near the beach. They used a tree trunk as a marker that bleeds every time someone tried to cut it.

To be exact, Moalboal is 89 kilometers southwest of Cebu City and travel time is about two and a half to three hours over semi-rugged road that winds through quaint uptowns and fishing villages. It is between the towns of Alcantara and Badian. One actually traverses the width of the island, with a chance to see coralline cliffs several hundred feet above sea level and undulating coco plantations. Along the way, there’s also the chance to mingle with villagers during a “tiyangge” or “tabo” (village market day) which is held on Thursdays and Sundays during which makeshift stalls mushroom along the road. At Barili, which is also along the way, one can have a glimpse of Mantayupan Falls.

There are seven towns that precede Moalboal. They vary from sleepy to bustling and antiquated to highly-developed. Moalboal, is itself a quiet town with an unassuming market where most of the activities of its inhabitants are centered. The concrete municipal building faces the big Catholic Church which is flanked by high school buildings fronting the Tanon Strait. Wooden houses line the roads that comprise the town’s crisscrossing streets which may be unimpressive to discriminating intruders. But the scene does not picture Moalboal in totality.

Today, the main road fronting the municipal building is named Laguno, after the folk hero.

One has to take a road westward to Basdiot where Panagsama Beach is located, to see more or rather, the “real” Moalboal. Panagsama is just a small community of fishermen who live in clusters of cottages along the white beach which is also pockmarked with resorts, most of which also offer dive packages. It Divers and snorkelers need not go far from the beach to enjoy colorful coral gardens. But the more adventurous has the option to rent a pumpboat that could bring him farther out. North of the town is White Beach (Bas Dako) at Barangay Saavedra, which is also frequented by sea lovers.

A mere forty five minutes away on a pumpboat is Pescador Island ringed by cavernous drop-offs, replete with marine life and corals. A veritable dive area, this speck of rock with a thin layer of soil is also the locals’ fishing ground.

The ‘70s which was considered as the golden years of the tourism industry in the country, also saw the rise to popularity of Moalboal whose pioneering habitués were backpackers from Europe. Simple native huts comprised the early “resorts” without electrical fixtures. Some of backpackers preferred to pitch their tents along the beach which the locals tolerated.

Today, resorts with modern facilities such as bar and restaurant, some even with swimming pool, dot the beaches of Panagsama and Bas Dako (White Beach). Arrangement can be made with their management regarding the renting of boats and dive or snorkeling facilities.

A Philippine town or village comes to zesty life during fiestas. For Moalboal, it’s the Kagasangan Festival that revolves around the corals, celebrated during the 15th and 16th of May.

Unlike Boracay, Moalboal is serenely laid back, where peace and quiet moments can be enjoyed – a deserved destination at the end of the 89-kilometer travel over semi-rugged roads. This veritable hidden getaway can be reached on buses with regular daily schedule from Cebu City. Commuters should take note that the bus they take for Moalboal is via Barili. These buses can be taken at the Cebu South bus station. Those who are in a hurry may take a taxi at the airport, for which assistance from tourism personnel is necessary. Within the locality and in going to nearby towns, tri-sikad (tricycles), pedicabs and multi-cabs are available for the commute.

Rediscover the Philippines through Scuba Diving

Rediscover the Philippines

Through Scuba Diving

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The Philippine archipelago that comprises more than seven thousand islands and islets, is something to behold from air – islands fringed with white beaches, rolling hills, mountains capped with green, with some hills and valleys showing patches of green and brown , strewn between the Pacific Ocean and China Sea. During the 80’s, the joint effort of the national government and the private sector comprised of Philippine Airlines, scuba diving outfits and travel agencies, resulted to the creation of the Philippine Commission on Sports Scuba Diving, with the Special Committee for the Development and Promotion of Underwater Diving Tourism as its action arm. From the end of Philippine Airlines, the representative was its Tours and Promotions Division, with its personnel, Edgar Buensuceso, Julio Luz and Thelma Villaseῆor. That was the outlook of dive tourism when the industry was yet, kicking high.

 

Today, with or without joint effort between the government and private sector, the country deserves to be re-discovered because of the vast paradise that covers its ocean floor. With some 34,000 square kilometers of coral reef, the Philippines could well be dubbed as the scuba diver’s haven. From the northern islands down to the atolls of the south, what the country brags virtually make it the ultimate destination for this aquatic sport. The geography of the country may make one’s movement seemed hampered. But who cares if at the end of a grueling cruise or a combined air and land travel a submarine paradise beckons?

 

If one may start with the northern islands, there’s Fuga to try. It is a part of the northernmost province – Batanes. Then going down to Pangasinan, there’s Santiago Island off Bolinao. On the eastern cost of northern Luzon are Polilio Islands of Quezon Province. All these are accessible via land transport, except for Fuga, going to which would need a chartered plane.

 

South of Manila are dive sites which are accessible via Batangas City. The veritable subaquatic gardens of Nasugbu, Balayan Bay, Verde Island, Anilao coast, and Sigayan Bay, practically fringe the coast of Batangas province.

 

Mindoro, an island of two provinces south of Batangas, also has colorfully-alive marine parks to offer. These areas are those around Lubang Islands, Apo Reef and Semirara, all on the western side of Mindoro. On the eastern side are the equally colorful coral beds of Puerto Galera and Buyallo.

 

Marinduque, the “Moriones Island”, has Tres Reyes and Mompog to offer. The island province is accessible by air and combined land and water transport, either through Lucena City or Gasan.

 

The surrounding waters of Visayas region are replete with motley colonies of corals inhabited by pelagic fishes. Romblon, for instance, has Dos Hermanas and Cresta de Gallo; Antique and Aklan with their Batbatan and Boracay. Cresta de Gallo and Sicogon Islands of Iloilo, also have memorable dive experience to offer, and there’s yet, Nagas Island to complete this old province’s list of dive spots.

 

A marine sanctuary, Sumilon Island, is easily reached from Dumaguete City, although, it is geographically part of Cebu. The sanctuary is being maintained by the Silliman University. Another island which is frequented by divers in this part of the country is Apo which is also just a short distance from Dumaguete.

 

Cebu, the country’s seat of Christianity prides in its dive sites that attract hordes of divers throughout the year, except for Capitancillo, an islet which is at its best from April to October. From Mactan Island in the north to Pescador Island in the southwest and the Danajon Banks, there seemed to be not just enough time for exploration. A popular snorkeling and diving destination among shoestring-budget tourists in this island is Moalboal which is noted for its laid back atmosphere.

 

From Cebu, Bohol is just a few hours on a ferry. This Chocolate Hills-famed island-province has added two of its islets, Cabilao and Panglao to the already long list of destinations which divers have been frequenting. Both are resplendent with colorful marine life throughout the year. Aside from the ferries from Cebu, the island-province is also accessible from Manila on regular daily flights.

 

The diagonally-lying island of Palawan is gifted by Nature with atolls and islets, some of which are not yet thoroughly explored. These are the Calamianes Island, Cuyo Islands, Cagayan Islands, Green Island Bay, Bacuit Bay, Ulugan Bay, Honda Bay, Balabac Island, Taytay Bay, and Tubbataha Reef. Down south in Mindanao, divers will delight in Davao’s Talikud Island, Zamboanga’s Sta. Cruz Island and the island sanctuary of Camiguin.

 

Most of the dive sites in the Philippines are yet in their unspoiled stage, thanks to their almost impossible accessibility. The rest, however, are frequently visited, so that concerned local governments have already started to impose strict regulations.

 

Interested parties are advised to make advance arrangement with dive shops if they intend to visit islands and reefs so that necessary coordination and clearances can be made with concerned government agencies. Dive packages are also offered by some tour agencies. Some resorts, however, such as those in Anilao (Batangas), Boracay, and Puerto Galera, offer on- the- spot arrangements. Seaside hotels Cebu can assist visitors with their dive requirements.

 

With tourism as among the last resort revenue earning industries of the Philippines, much effort is exerted by both the national government through the Department of Tourism and the different concerned private sectors in regulating it along the line of ecology.

 

 

Hospitality…essence of Philippine Tourism

Hospitality

…essence of Philippine Tourism

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Big cities in the Philippines have sufficient rooms for tourists, provided by lodging inns and multiple star hotels. But this is not so for towns and villages that are visited by tourists during the summer months which are the season for fiestas, and even year-round for some, as in the case of destinations that boast of natural attractions such as mountains, caves, swift white rivers, as well as, indigenous flora and fauna.

 

During the ‘70s which was the peak of tourist promotion effort of Philippine Airlines through its Tours and Promotions Division of Marketing and Sales-Philippines (MSP), the “hospitality home” was conceived by the think tank group of Vic Bernardino who heads the said division. The concept which was integrated in the PALakbayan Tour Program was supported by the late, Mr. Ricardo Paloma, the then, Regional Vice-President of MSP. The concept was laid down for appreciation and implementation of local governments which extended their full support. Along with this concept was also the promotion of the “backyard tourism”. To differentiate it from commercialized tourism, the “backyard tourism” was the small-scale tourism-related business that far-flung towns and villages operated in line with the Department of Tourism’s effort to drum up the attractions of the country.

 

Among the popular destinations that overflowed with tourists during festival season then, were Marinduque with its Moriones Festival, Kalibo with its original Ati-Atihan Festival, and Bukidnon with its Kaamulan Festival. Due to the limited commercial lodging facilities, pre-chosen local families were asked to host visitors for certain fees that varied according to their facilities and offered meals. Nowadays, sufficient lodging facilities have been built by local governments to accommodate visitors.

 

The tourism industry of the Philippines, did not start with big hotels. The industry started from scratch, so to speak. The hospitality home type of accommodation in the provinces supported the influx of foreign tourists in Manila, Cebu and Davao, as the hordes were desirous to see and experience more of the country. The PALakbayan Tour Program of the national flag carrier, PAL, through its Tours and Promotions Office successfully distributed tourists throughout the country. This is how the St. Paul Subterranean Park of Palawan, now known as Underground River of Puerto Princesa, the “dragons” of Caramoan peninsula in Bicol, the Chocolate Hills of Bohol, the enticing waves of the Quezon Province and Camarines Sur, Mt. Apo of Davao, Mt. Mayon of Albay, Mt. Hibok-Hibok of Camiguin, Mt. Pulog of Benguet, Mt. Kanlaon of Negros, to name a few of the mountains, Sicogon Island, the beaches of Cebu, Tubbataha Reef of Palawan and other dive sites in Mindoro, Cebu, Dumaguete, Davao, the Philippine Eagle, and later, the now world-renown Boracay….became essential features of international travel brochures and magazines..

 

It was a hectic period of promotional effort for the Bernardino group which reaped good results. Those who sacrificed much of their time were Edgar Buensuceso who handled the cave explorations and researches on the Philippine flora and fauna for promotion to nature lovers of Europe, Australia and Japan, as well as, the promotion of awareness on the Philippine Eagle; John Fortes who handled the mountain climbing activities; and Julio Luz, Jr. and Thelma Villaseῆor, who organized dive expeditions. Edgar Buensuceso can also be credited for the development of birdwatching as a popular naturist activity in the country. John Fortes on the other hand, did much in organizing the different mountaineering organizations in the Philippines into the National Federation of the Philippines. During mountain climbs, the diminutive Joe Cobilla, a famous outdoor photographer of the Department of Tourism was always part of the groups to document every detail of the treks. The photos of Mr. Cobilla graced the pages of many travel brochures and magazines here and abroad which further boasted the concerted effort of the national government and PAL in promoting tourism.

 

Tourism industry is the only hope of the government in earning the much-needed revenue to bolster the economy of the country. Agriculture is out of the question, as the agencies involved are inutile in making the country rice sufficient, despite the presence of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in Laguna, Asia’s cradle of knowledge for rice technology. Even the onions and garlic are imported from China, Taiwan and Thailand. The high technology is likewise out, as the country has become the receiving end for sub-standard gadgets from China. Cheap and competitive, but unfortunately seasonal labor cannot be relied on, as the meager take home pay of workers has no buying strength. The exported labor is likewise threatened due to unrests at host countries which drastically affects dollar remittance.

 

In pursuing the advocacy of tourism, cooperation is necessary – among the residents, as well as, the local and the national governments. And, finally, the accommodation and transport components of the industry play an important role as they must be consistent in satisfactorily serving the needs of the tourists who now include local travelers. The Filipinos showed that with their innate hospitality, both foreign and local tourists can have fun around the country. Thanks to the Filipino hospitality as it has bolstered the tourism industry that has overshadowed the badly smeared image of the government due to prevalent corruption in practically, all its branches.