The Mechanization of Tourism Industry and the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalists

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry

And the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalists

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Practically, almost every endeavor in this world has got to do with “tourism”…as anything that can elicit visits can be called a “touristic result”. A city with plenty of trusted clinics and medical practitioners can become a destination for “medical tourism” program. A village that became popular because of a Marian (Virgin Mary) appearance becomes flooded with pilgrims, and that is “religious tourism”. The situation of a place as regards security and hygiene affects tourism. And, the likeability of a place in general, revolves around tourism.

 

Tourism is about sports, nature, wildlife, food, culture, education, as well as, various segments of travel industry such as air, water and land. The constantly varying cost of fuel that affects the various modes of travel at the end, affects tourism…. even the food and the hotel accommodation.

 

The travel craze has brought about the BLOGGING PHENOMENON. Suddenly, anybody who has a facebook and maintains blog sites in the internet has become a blogger. Even a mug of coffee with a floral design formed by squirted cream becomes a subject for the blog posted on the facebook. Visually recorded travels, foodie trips and drinking sprees have become curious subjects and unwittingly become honest references of future travelers who would like to retrace the steps on the trails taken by the bloggers.

 

The effect of the e- journalists on the tourism industry is impressively tremendous. It has made travel easy and direct, booting the government tourism offices out of the picture and transaction, as bookings are directly made with travel and tour agencies. And, many travelers today are using direction applications in smart phones. The phenomenon has practically relegated government tourism offices on the sideline for  ”coordination” purposes which actually, are generally viewed as no longer necessary….making them inutile. Even for international conventions, there are professional seminar and convention handling agencies. As regards the Travel Tax, it can be handled by a representative of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at all points of entries and exits of the country.

 

I have personally observed that the quality control of services of touristic facilities that is supposed to be handled by the local tourism offices is not carried out properly. Facilities found in small cities and towns are left on their own to cater to their clients, as they show their best smile. While in Manila, Cebu and Davao, touristic establishments are stuck with supposedly sticker of guarantee indicated by the number of stars, the rest around the country have none. If the small touristic establishments do not “come up” to the standards indicated by stars, then, such system is useless as they are just good for the big hotels in equally big cities. THERE ARE PLENTY OF AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN TOURISTIC  ESTABLISHMENTS  IN FAR-FLUNG TOWNS  WHERE “TOURIST ATTRACTIONS” ARE FOUND, AS WELL AS  SMALL CITIES WITH PROVINCIAL SETTING THAT SERVE AS “JUMP OFF POINTS”, INSTEAD OF BIG HOTELS, MALLS AND SKYCRAPERS.

 

It has been found out that real tourists, the seasoned ones who comprise the biggest chunk of the statistics on this industry, do not give a damn on the number of stars stuck on the door of a hotel and restaurants….they are after the cheap hotel rates, clean rooms and safe foods. They rely more on the suggestions and recommendations of their agents and personal experience that make them “repeat customers”, and, “WORD OF MOUTH” OR STORIES OF FRIENDS. These “stars” may be good for the glossy pages of magazines not read by the aforementioned travelers who “KNOW” what they want as seasoned travelers.

 

Here are important points to ponder on:

  • If a tourist has lost a baggage at the airport, the airline acts on it.
  • If the bag of a tourist has been snatched while he is shopping, he goes to the police.
  • If a tourist becomes sick in a hotel, he is brought to the hospital.
  • If a prospective tourist wants to visit a place, he consults the internet for blogs.
  • If a tourist destination is made accessible by road, the budget either comes from the LGU or the congressman.
  • Photos and write ups on festivals, activities and foods in the internet and made as references of tourists are uploads of bloggers. (Most LGU tourism offices collect photos via contests among the visual bloggers.)

 

The “tourism office” is not in any of the situations mentioned above. On the other hand, the information needs of the tourist can be handled by the Information Office of the LGU- from the province and city or town, down to the barangay level to MAXIMIZE their function while maintaining their being an INFORMATION OFFICE staffed with KNOWLEDGEABLE researchers.  The tourism-related functions  have become purely coordinative and informative, hence, do not need any managerial skill. In other words, ANYBODY WHO HAS A KNOWLEDGE OF ANY TOURIST SPOT OR DESTINATION OR ACTIVITY OR WHATCHAMALLIT, CAN BE A “TOURIST GUIDE”….even the guys who sweep the streets can be such and they may prove even more effective than those sitting out their time in their aircon offices chatting with fb friends.

 

Information about local destinations may have the chance to land on the pages of international magazines and the internet. HOWEVER, THEY ARE INNATELY AND VERY MUCH AVAILABLE IN THE MINDS OF THE RESIDENTS OR LOCALS…MAKING THE HIRING OF “CONSULTANTS”  FOR THEIR PROMOTION ALSO, NOT NECESSARY.  For budget proposals, the Finance guys of any LGU can do it. For the description of tourist spots or activities, the most appropriate is the Information Office, again, to maximize their function.

 

My suggestion ONLY is, dissolve the Department of Tourism and the rest of the government tourism offices and replace them with INFORMATION KIOSKS TO BE SITUATED AT STRATEGIC AREAS SUCH AS AIRPORTS (INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC), PIERS, MALLS, PROVINCIAL CAPITOLS, CITY/MUNICIPA/BARANGAY HALLS. THESE KIOSKS SHOULD BE EQUIPPED WITH COMPUTERS THAT CONTAIN TRAVEL AND TOUR INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES, ESPCIALLY, THE PLACES WHERE THE KIOSKS ARE LOCATED, AND WHICH LOCAL AND FOREIGN TRAVELERS CAN EASILY ACCESS. THE UPLOADED INFORMATION SHOULD BE BACKED UP BY PRINTED OR HARD COPIES IN CASE OF POWER BREAKDOWN, AND KEPT IN THE FILING CABINET OF THE INFORMATION OFFICE WITH A REPRESENTATIVE POSTED AT EVERY KIOSK. AS FOR TOUR GUIDES, “JOB ORDER” EMPLOYESS WITH MULTI-FUNCTIONS CAN BE UTILIZED.

 

FINALLY, THIS IS WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO CALL AS THE “MECHANIZATION” OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY.

 

 

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My Own Idea of Tourism…just an opinion

My Own Idea of Tourism

…just an opinion

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

ON THE PART OF THE TOURIST, THE ESSENCE OF TOURISM IS “INTEREST”, WHILE ON THAT OF THE HOST IT IS “HONEST INFORMATION”.

 

THE EXPECTATION ON THE PART OF THE TOURIST IS “SATISFACTION”, WHILE ON THE PART OF THE HOST, IT IS “REVENUE”.

 

TO SUM THEM UP….

THE INTEREST TO TRAVEL THROUGH HONEST INFORMATION CAN BE CREATED FOR PEOPLE WHO EXPECT TO BE SATISFIED THAT RESULTS TO THE MOST COVETED REVENUE OF THE HOST.

 

TOURISM AS AN INDUSTRY TODAY IS DISTRIBUTED AMONG STAKEHOLDERS OR INTERESTED PARTIES, MAKING THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN “TOURISM AGENCY” IRRELEVANT…IN THIS REGARD, THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM AND ITS COUNTERPARTS DOWN THE LINE OF GOVERNANCE SUCH AS THE LGUs.

 

THE MULTI-SEGMENTATION OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY IS SUCH THAT EACH STAKEHOLDER CAN HANDLE ITS OWN DIRECTLY TO EARN REVENUE:

 

  • EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS CAN PACKAGE THEIR TOUR PROGRAMS FOR RESEARCHES, FAMILIARIZATIONS, AND EXCHANGE PROGRAMS.

 

  • HOSPITALS AND SPECIALIZED CLINICS CAN HAVE THEIR OWN PACKAGE FOR CLIENTS SEEKING SPECIAL TREATMENTS.

 

  • PARISH LAY COMMITTEES CAN PACKAGE THEIR OWN PILGRIMAGES, RETREATS OR RECOLLECTIONS.

 

  • OUTDOOR SPORTS AGENCIES CAN COME UP WITH THEIR PACKAGE THAT INVOLVE ZIP LINES, SCUBA DIVING, MOUNTAIN CLIMBING, SPELUNKING OR CAVE EXPLORATION, BIRDWATCHING, HANG GLIDING, CROSS-COUNTRY MOTOCROSSES, DEEP-SEA FISHING, AND SIMPLE TREKKING OR CAMPING.

 

ALL OF THE ABOVE CAN BE ARRANGED DIRECTLY WITH AIRLINES, SHIPPING LINES, BUS COMPANIES, ACCOMMODATION FACILITIES, RESTAURANTS, TRANSFER HANDLERS, AND MOST ESPECIALLY, WITH TRAVEL AND TOUR AGENCIES…WHICH EVER IS OR ARE APPROPRIATE FOR THE ACTIVITY.

 

THE LGUs CAN HOLD FESTIVALS AND SPECIAL EVENTS TO ATTRACT VISITORS USING THEIR INFORMATION OFFICES AND COMMITTEES CREATED FOR THE OCCASIONS THAT ARE HELD AT LEAST ONCE A YEAR.

 

ON THE OTHER HAND, THE INFORMATION REQUIREMENT OF TOURISTS CAN BE SATISFIED BY THE UPLOADED VISUAL AND WRITTEN “BLOGS” IN THE CYBERSPACE OR THE INTERNET WHICH IS WHAT’S ALREADY HAPPENING. THEY CAN BROWSE THE CYBERSPACE  BY MERELY USING A  SMART PHONE.

 

 

 

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry and the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalism

The Mechanization of Tourism Industry

And the Relevance of Bloggers or e-Journalists

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Practically, almost every endeavor in this world has got to do with “tourism”…as anything that can elicit visits can be called a “touristic result”. A city with plenty of trusted clinics and medical practitioners can become a destination for “medical tourism” program. A village that became popular because of a Marian (Virgin Mary) appearance becomes flooded with pilgrims, and that is “religious tourism”. The situation of a place as regards security and hygiene affects tourism. And, the likeability of a place in general, revolves around tourism.

 

Tourism is about sports, nature, wildlife, food, culture, education, as well as, various segments of travel industry such as air, water and land. The constantly varying cost of fuel that affects the various modes of travel at the end, affects tourism…. even the food and the hotel accommodation.

 

The travel craze has brought about the BLOGGING PHENOMENON. Suddenly, anybody who has a facebook and maintains blog sites in the internet has become a blogger. Even a mug of coffee with a floral design formed by squirted cream becomes a subject for the blog posted on the facebook. Visually recorded travels, foodie trips and drinking sprees have become curious subjects and unwittingly become honest references of future travelers who would like to retrace the steps on the trails taken by the bloggers.

 

The effect of the e- journalists on the tourism industry is impressively tremendous. It has made travel easy and direct, booting the government tourism offices out of the picture and transaction, as bookings are directly made with travel and tour agencies. And, many travelers today are using direction applications in smart phones. The phenomenon has practically relegated government tourism offices on the sideline for  ”coordination” purposes which actually, are generally viewed as no longer necessary….making them inutile. Even for international conventions, there are professional seminar and convention handling agencies. As regards the Travel Tax, it can be handled by a representative of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) at all points of entries and exits of the country.

 

I have personally observed that the quality control of services of touristic facilities that is supposed to be handled by the local tourism offices is not carried out properly. Facilities found in small cities and towns are left on their own to cater to their clients, as they show their best smile. While in Manila, Cebu and Davao, touristic establishments are stuck with supposedly sticker of guarantee indicated by the number of stars, the rest around the country have none. If the small touristic establishments do not “come up” to the standards indicated by stars, then, such system is useless as they are just good for the big hotels in equally big cities. THERE ARE PLENTY OF AFFORDABLE AND CLEAN TOURISTIC  ESTABLISHMENTS  IN FAR-FLUNG TOWNS  WHERE “TOURIST ATTRACTIONS” ARE FOUND, AS WELL AS  SMALL CITIES WITH PROVINCIAL SETTING THAT SERVE AS “JUMP OFF POINTS”, INSTEAD OF BIG HOTELS, MALLS AND SKYCRAPERS.

 

It has been found out that real tourists, the seasoned ones who comprise the biggest chunk of the statistics on this industry, do not give a damn on the number of stars stuck on the door of a hotel and restaurants….they are after the cheap hotel rates, clean rooms and safe foods. They rely more on the suggestions and recommendations of their agents and personal experience that make them “repeat customers”, and, “WORD OF MOUTH” OR STORIES OF FRIENDS. These “stars” may be good for the glossy pages of magazines not read by the aforementioned travelers who “KNOW” what they want as seasoned travelers.

 

Here are important points to ponder on:

  • If a tourist has lost a baggage at the airport, the airline acts on it.
  • If the bag of a tourist has been snatched while he is shopping, he goes to the police.
  • If a tourist becomes sick in a hotel, he is brought to the hospital.
  • If a prospective tourist wants to visit a place, he consults the internet for blogs.
  • If a tourist destination is made accessible by road, the budget either comes from the LGU or the congressman.
  • Photos and write ups on festivals, activities and foods in the internet and made as references of tourists are uploads of bloggers. (Most LGU tourism offices collect photos via contests among the visual bloggers.)

 

The “tourism office” is not in any of the situations mentioned above. On the other hand, the information needs of the tourist can be handled by the Information Office of the LGU- from the province and city or town, down to the barangay level to MAXIMIZE their function while maintaining their being an INFORMATION OFFICE staffed with KNOWLEDGEABLE researchers.  The tourism-related functions  have become purely coordinative and informative, hence, do not need any managerial skill. In other words, ANYBODY WHO HAS A KNOWLEDGE OF ANY TOURIST SPOT OR DESTINATION OR ACTIVITY OR WHATCHAMALLIT, CAN BE A “TOURIST GUIDE”….even the guys who sweep the streets can be such and they may prove even more effective than those sitting out their time in their aircon offices chatting with fb friends.

 

Information about local destinations may have the chance to land on the pages of international magazines and the internet. HOWEVER, THEY ARE INNATELY AND VERY MUCH AVAILABLE IN THE MINDS OF THE RESIDENTS OR LOCALS…MAKING THE HIRING OF “CONSULTANTS”  FOR THEIR PROMOTION ALSO, NOT NECESSARY.  For budget proposals, the Finance guys of any LGU can do it. For the description of tourist spots or activities, the most appropriate is the Information Office, again, to maximize their function.

 

My suggestion ONLY is, dissolve the Department of Tourism and the rest of the government tourism offices and replace them with INFORMATION KIOSKS TO BE SITUATED AT STRATEGIC AREAS SUCH AS AIRPORTS (INTERNATIONAL AND DOMESTIC), PIERS, MALLS, PROVINCIAL CAPITOLS, CITY/MUNICIPA/BARANGAY HALLS. THESE KIOSKS SHOULD BE EQUIPPED WITH COMPUTERS THAT CONTAIN TRAVEL AND TOUR INFORMATION ABOUT THE PHILIPPINES, ESPCIALLY, THE PLACES WHERE THE KIOSKS ARE LOCATED, AND WHICH LOCAL AND FOREIGN TRAVELERS CAN EASILY ACCESS. THE UPLOADED INFORMATION SHOULD BE BACKED UP BY PRINTED OR HARD COPIES IN CASE OF POWER BREAKDOWN, AND KEPT IN THE FILING CABINET OF THE INFORMATION OFFICE WITH A REPRESENTATIVE POSTED AT EVERY KIOSK. AS FOR TOUR GUIDES, “JOB ORDER” EMPLOYESS WITH MULTI-FUNCTIONS CAN BE UTILIZED.

 

FINALLY, THIS IS WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO CALL AS THE “MECHANIZATION” OF THE TOURISM INDUSTRY.

 

 

The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

The Sad Plight of the Philippine Tourism Industry

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

I find it unnecessary to hire Consultants who would come up with “tourism plan” for LGU units that are already with potential tourist destinations. Why the need for a Consultant when all that the tourists need are ONLY clean accommodation facilities, exotic foods and honest tricycle or taxi drivers? And, worse, with the Consultant coming yet, from outside the community being promoted!

 

Is it difficult for a local government to require stallholders in the public market to maintain cleanliness?…for restaurant owners to have clean restrooms, tidy halls, and staff clothed in clean uniform and with a ready smile? Or, is it difficult for a local government to call on the drivers of public conveyances to be courteous and be honest?…why the need for a Consultant to dictate what to do when all the things that should be done are supposed to be just dictated by COMMON SENSE?

 

Puerto Galera in Mindoro did not become famous because of Consultants, and so are Boracay, the scuba diving sites around the country, the mountains, the caves and the festivals. PHILIPPINE AIRLINES DID A LOT IN PROMOTING THEM AS PART OF ITS AIR TRAVEL EDUCATION PROGRAM. The Department of Tourism just “researched” on them so that they can have something to print in their brochures that they displayed in their “field” offices around the country and some cities around the world. They literally picked up easily the “opportunities” of already famous tourist attractions of the country.

 

CONSULTANTS WERE NEVER HIRED BY LOCAL GOVERNMENTS TO MAKE WHAT THEY HAVE AS TOURIST ATTRACTIONS BECOME FAMOUS. UNFORTUNATELY, THE LACK OF CONCERN FROM THE GOVERNMENT AGENCIES TO PRESERVE THEIR PRISTINE BEAUTY AND THE GREED FOR MONEY OF INVESTORS, PRACTICALLY, SPOILED THEM….AND, BORACAY  IS THE BIG PROOF!

 

The word-of-mouth system of promotion also did a lot…made by satisfied travelers who told their friends when they went back to their countries. THERE WAS NO PLAN. What is worse that is happening today is the idiotization of festivals of different cities and towns that differ only in outlandish costumes but with street dancers moving to the same rhythm and beat copied from the Ati-atihan of Ibajay in Aklan and later, Kalibo, as well as the Binirayan of Antique. In fairness to some of them,  however, there are many towns who are steadfast in coming up with costumes symbolic of their festival or celebration. But generally, the general impression about the festivals is “…if you have seen one, you have seen them all…” WHICH IS NOT GOOD AND SHOULD SERVE AS A STRONG SIGNAL TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM TO DO SOMETHING.

 

The Philippines is lagging behind the rest of the traditional destinations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore with even those that had a late start-up like Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodia catching up. It should be noted that even Singapore is making to full use the “colors” of its rich multi-faceted culture that include street foods and market scenes. On the other hand, the rest of the highly-attractive nations are also doing the same with the same pride. Meanwhile, the Philippine tourism guys think that the country MUST hold an international pageant to make her popular!

 

The country should be thankful to Duterte whose feisty and rhetorical statements have earned added curiosity of the world and the respect of many nations….but to the guys who are salaried to work for such purpose?…WELL…!#$@^&%$!

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The Problem with Some Philippine Government Agencies and the People Behind Them

The Problem With Some Philippine Government Agencies

and the People Behind Them

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

The Philippines can be perceived as taking steps forward, though with difficulty, and there are indications that some of the agencies don’t just seem to be effectively doing their job. For one thing, guys behind these agencies always blame the lack of budget when in fact, what they lack is the skill in being resourceful and the drive….but, most especially, the “intelligence” and common sense.

 

On the social service which before was encompassing to include sports and the welfare of the human sector, today, it has been decentralized with the functions distributed among local governments and newly-created “Commissions” or “Offices”. So we find today “offices” for senior citizens, disaster management and relief distribution, rehabilitation; the sports concerns handled by “Commissions”, the family, women and child welfare given to the PNP that came up with “Desks” and the overall “social services” going to the LGUs, and so on. What happened to the DSWD and their Social Workers who earned their Social Work degree from colleges and universities? Many LGUs do not even have facilities to temporarily accommodate abused children and women.

 

On tourism service, its information and promotion efforts have been made inutile by the fast-growing cyber industry and technology. All that one needs to do if he wants to know about a tourist destination or facility is open his smart phone and presto!…he gets all that he wants, complete with directions and suggested packages. On the other hand, the salaried guys who are supposed to work for better ideas to drum up  interests, come up with copied ones from those of other countries’ and still worse, they chose what they thought could make the Philippines “different” or above the highly-attractive  nations around. The result is a big flop!

 

Some of these “wise guys” in the tourism industry thought that a once-a-year festival is enough to sustain the attraction of localities…or that a beauty pageant is all that matters to make the whole country, or a province, or a city, or a town, or even a barangay popular. They also practically “bundle” a region into “one destination” without giving regard to the clamor of specific LGUs to be identified with their respective tourist spots which is the right and honest “marketing” of a tourist destination. They misconceived the idea of “one” which just implies “united effort”, but must maintain the “specific locations” of what are being promoted.

 

Putting in the forefront of promotion the name of a region for instance can sow confusion because it affects the elements of travel and time in packaging…and definitely, disappointment. The regional location can just be mentioned as a “by the way”, with the specific destinations given the rightful and appropriate priority so that the tourists are HONESTLY informed of their destination. I will mention here again the case of the underground river in Palawan which  before was known as ST. PAUL SUBTERRANEAN PARK and whose promotion included its specific location which is too far away from Puerto Princesa City where the airport is located, to prepare the tourists of what to expect along the way. Today, the destination has become PUERTO PRINCESA UNDERGROUND RIVER!..when did the city have an underground river?

 

In Mindanao, there is a “region” with an acronym, SOCSKSARGEN, that supposedly refers to the provinces and cities that compose it such as South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos. The big question is…. why is Koronadal City and Tacurong City not specifically mentioned in the banner name in fairness to them because General Santos City is mentioned?…are the people behind the idea worried in coming up a longer acronym? General Santos City need not be spelled out and instead can just be included in “South Cotabato” just like Koronadal City, as Tacurong City is in “Sultan Kudarat”. With that, what can be referred to as components of the region are simply South Cotabato, Sarangani, and Sultan Kudarat. Much worst is the further contracting of the acronym into “SOX” which is the name of a very popular baseball team in America!…aside from being homonymous to SUCKS which is among the worst cussing word in the American language.

 

The office of these people is located in General Santos City which is already called by many travel writers as “filthy” with a “hellish traffic” and neglected landmarks. All that the guys should do is go out of their office and visit the TUNA QUEEN PARK and the park in the heart of the city, but most specially, walk their way around the city to end right at the downtown area. They should also visit the deteriorating Bula Public Market. They can cap their check for the day with a visit to the supposedly international airport. They should do that as General Santos is their “yard”, before going out of it to check on the others.

 

How can they present their “home” to visiting tourism officials from neighboring nations with pride if they have nothing to show as an honest-to-goodness park for instance? How can they show the wasteland that has become of the Tuna Queen Park?…and worst, the confusion at the supposedly international airport without even a simple canopy to protect departing and arriving passengers who cross the street to and from the parking lot to the terminal…and the mess worsened by the SOX right in front of the terminal! How can these guys look far beyond their “yard” when right under their nose, so many things are waiting to be done?

 

In the meantime, they should release the budget for the LGUs that need it to develop their respective touristic attractions. They should release the money without directing the LGUs to hire Consultants to work on their tourism plan as they are supposedly staffed with knowledgeable people who know better than the highly-paid guys who come from somewhere else. The budget is intended for the LGUs anyway and are subject to auditing, so what is the problem? …if the LGU officials do something about the money other that what it is intended for…Duterte has something for them!

 

 

 

Mga Karanasan Kong Kagila-gilalas Noong Naglibot Ako sa Pilipinas

Mga Karanasan Kong Kagila-gilalas Noong Naglibot Ako sa Pilipinas

Ni Apolinario Villalobos

 

Bilang editor noon ng TOPIC Magazine, obligado akong maglibot upang mangalap ng mga impormasyong pang-turista para mailathala sa magasin. At, dahil iba-iba ang mga napupuntahan ko, iba-iba rin ang mga karanasan ko. Ang iba ay sobrang censored kaya hindi pwedeng banggitin, except sa ginagawa kong “memoir” na ilalabas kapag ako ay patay na, at ang iba naman ay sobrang nakakatuwa kaya dapat i-share “to make the day” ng mga nagtitiyagang magbasa ng blogs ko.

 

Sa isang bayan sa norte, nag-check in ako sa isang maliit na hotel, okey naman dahil may toilet subalit hindi ko nabuksan para ma-check ang loob dahil nagmamadali akong makapunta agad sa mga tourist spots. Pagbalik ko galing sa paglilibot ay naligo ako at gumamit ng kubeta. Nadismaya ako dahil nang umupo na ako sa “trono” hindi ko madiretso ang dalawa kong paa…dapat nakaangat ang kanan kong paa upang magkasya ang wetpu ko sa” trono” dahil halos dikit sa dingding ito. Kaya ang nangyari ay para akong aso na nakataas ang isang paa, halos pa-side view, habang nagpapalabas ng sama ng loob….ang mahalaga noon ay nakaraos ako. In fairness sa maliit na hotel, malinis ang toilet, ngunit ang kubeta ay pang-unano yata.

 

Sa isa pa ring bayan sa norte, ang toilet ng hotel na tinirhan ko ay barado. Mabuti na lang at nasa tabing-dagat ang maliit na hotel, kaya kahit gabi na ay nagsabi ako sa staff na kunwari ay  magsi-swimming ako kahit ang katotohanan ay may binabalak akong gagawing kabantutan! Nagtampisaw ako sa mababaw na dagat dahil low tide hanggang makaraos ako. Kinabukasan ay nag-check ako kung may nakalutang na ebidensiya sa ginawa kong karumaldumal nang nakaraang gabi…mabuti naman at inanod yata sa malayo!…nakaligtas ako sa batikos!

 

Sa mga maliliit na lunsod ay uso ang mga hotel na ang toilet ay nasa pagitan ng dalawang kuwarto…share ang occupants ng dalawang kuwarto sa paggamit ng toilet. Malalaman ng occupant ng isang kuwarto kung ginagamit ng taga-kabilang kuwarto ang toilet dahil naka-lock ang pinto niya sa loob, na dapat buksan kapag tapos nang gumamit ang taga-kabila, upang makapasok naman siya, at ila-lock naman niya ang pinto ng katabi niyang kuwarto. Nag-check in ako sa isang hotel na may ganitong uri ng kubeta. Nang hapong maliligo na ako (siyempre nakahubad) ay binuksan ko ang pinto ng kubeta…at nabuksan nga…nakalimutan kong may ka-share ako sa kubeta….at may chicks palang nakaupo sa “trono”….nakalimutan niyang i-lock ang pinto ko sa loob! Nahantad naman sa kanya ang kaluluwa ko! Nagkatinginan kami….nagpaka-gentleman pa rin ako at dahan-dahan kong isinara ang pinto habang nagbaba-bye. Nagkita kami uli sa dining room, kasama niya ang kanyang asawang egoy (black American)!…tinginan uli kami at nginitian niya ako ng pagkatamis-tamis…parang may nabistong secret na siya lang ang nakakaalam!

 

Ilan lang ang mga nabanggit sa mga  madilim na bahagi ng aking kahapon sa paglilibot ko sa Pilipinas dahil sa call of duty. Tiniis ko ang lahat dahil ayaw kong maging jobless at lumuwa ang mga mata dahil sa gutom. Noon ko lalong naunawaan na iba pala talaga ang buhay ng isang tunay na turista na hahamakin ang lahat makarating lang sa mga tourist spots!

Buluan (Maguindanao)…taking leaps and bounds towards progress

Buluan (Maguindanao)…taking leaps and bounds towards progress

By Apolinario Villalobos

 

Buluan is cruising the fast lane towards progress. Practically, development is in full swing. The first to be developed are the once grassy depressions on both sides of the highway. The once grassy lands have been converted into beautifully landscaped walkways or “boulevard”. The highway is literally swept clean of debris as early as 6AM. A sidewalk café outside a business establishment has also added sophistication to the once rock-littered sidewalk.

 

A little further up northeast is the Buluan bridge from which a refreshing view of the chocolate-colored swift Buluan river can be had. The river was the major commercial artery then, of the town used by the Visayans, Ilocanos and Tagalogs when they came as early as the 1930s to settle in Sambolawan (today, President Quirino), Mangelen, San Emmanuel, and Tacurong.

 

Buluan could very well be tagged as the most sliced municipality of the Philippines as it used to be an enormous piece of land surrounding Lake Buluan, also among those that comprised “old” Cotabato province. It became a town when President Manuel Roxas signed the Executive Order 82 on August 8, 1947. The first to get “weaned” from her is Tacurong which became a separate town on August 3, 1951. Columbio followed suit, as it became a town in 1961, and then, by Lutayan.

 

Buluan was made part of Maguindanao on November 22, 1973, during which President Quirino was sliced off the western coast of the lake, with the latter made part of the province of Sultan Kudarat. On April 7, 1991, Buluan’s northern portion was further sliced, out of which the municipality of Gen. S. K. Pendatun was formed. On December 30, 2006, the municipalities of Mangudadatu and Pandag were formed out of the 16 barangays…the two new towns getting 8 barangays each.

 

Buluan became the capital of the province of Maguindanao necessitating the building of a capitol which is still under construction as of this writing. The current municipal mayor, Lorena D.  Mangudadatu holds office at the Municipal Hall, while the governor, Toto Mangudadatu holds his own temporarily at the Rajah Buayan Silongan Peace Center.

 

Buluan, together with Lutayan, supplies the neighboring towns and the city of Tacurong with fresh water fishes such as mudfish, tilapia, gourami, taruk, bagtis, and shrimp. The excess of these fishes, especially, mudfish are filleted and dried under the sun. As for delicacies, Buluan is known for its “tinagtag” and “panyalam”.

 

From Davao City  and Cotabato City, Buluan can be reached on buses and aircon vans, while those coming from General Santos city can take similar conveyances for Tacurong city from which they could transfer to tricycles for the 15-minute ride.