CAMIGUIN, Philippines – Amid the implementation of martial law in Mindanao, visitors flock to this province to join the celebration of its 38th Lanzones Festival, a yearly event that draws thousands here.
Gov. Maria Luisa Romualdo said that while martial law is felt in this island-province, it has no adverse impact on its tourism, Camiguin’s primary industry.
“We are still feeling the influx [of guests],” Romualdo said.
Flor Colmenas, an official of Camiguin’s provincial tourism office, said the martial law has slightly affected guest arrivals as there were booking cancellations of hotel and inn accommodations, but the number of overall visitors has exceeded their expectations.
Colmenas said there were around more than 5,000 tourist arrivals during this year’s Lanzones Festival.
“Despite the cancellations, there are more people coming here,” the tourism official said.
Romualdo said Camiguin is also poised to become one of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) most sought-after tourist and event destinations as two companies are in the stage of expanding their hotel business here.
Romualdo said two prominent hoteliers in Cagayan de Oro will be putting up their hotels in the island-province’s two towns.
A hotel owned by Limketkai will stand in Barangay Tupsan Pequeño, Mahinog town, while Mallberry will expand its hospitality business in Barangay Bonbon in the municipality of Catarman.
In Cagayan de Oro, Limketkai operates the 213-room Luxe Hotel located within its mall complex. Mallberry, owned by Roger Chiu, has its own Mallberry Business Suites Hotel within the Limketkai mall.
With the completion of these two new hotels, Romualdo said Camiguin will be ready to accommodate any events, including those organized by the Asean.
“Camiguin will never back out [in] hosting any major event,” she said at the sidelines of the annual street dancing competition on Saturday, one of the highlights of the 38th celebration of the Lanzones Festival, held Oct. 22-31.
The Lanzones Festival, an event celebrating the bountiful harvest of lanzones, which is abundant in the island, is among the major activities in Camiguin where the influx of local and foreign tourists is expected.
The Camiguin-grown lanzones tastes sweeter, said Engr. Renero Torion, the provincial agriculturist, due the island’s volcanic soil. About 2,000 hectares are planted with lanzones.
Last year, the Asean Center for Biodiversity declared the Camiguin’s Mts. Timpoong and Hibok-Hibok natural ranges Asean Heritage Parks, one of the few areas in the Philippines that is recognized as such. The declaration also put Camiguin on the Asean map.
With this recognition, Romualdo said, it won’t be long for citizens of Asean member-countries to visit Camiguin.
“We will never say no to anyone who would want to come and visit us. Yes, we are now ready for them,” she said, referring to the potential tourists from the Southeast Asian region.
The governor added that although the whole of Mindanao is still under martial law, tourists still flock to the island for the Lanzones Festival and to enjoy its numerous attractions and amenities.
Romualdo said that they added new events in the Lanzones Festival, among them “Pasigarbo Camiguin,” a two-hour concert showcasing the best singers and dancers of the island.
In the street dancing contest, she said the organizers had also allowed the contingents to express their artistic ability to capture the spirit of their performance that depicts the tribal life of the Manobo and Higaonon, two local ethnic groups had an influence on the modern-day Camiguin.
Also, Romualdo said they made sure that the dancers incorporate steps inspired by the rituals and ordinary lives of the Manobo and the Higaonon in the past.(davaotoday.com)