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By: Vanessa Almeda, Mylen Manto | Published Monday, August 3, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia and Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia lead the opening of the ATV trail adventure which passes through rural scenic views until reaching the Bangaglapus Cave overlooking the Tanon Strait. (Junjie Mendoza)

Starting from the underwater sights and wonders in the seas of Oslob and Moalboal, the reopening of Cebu’s tourism reached its third stop in the terrain adventure at the scenic mountain view of Barangay Nasipit in Barili on Sunday, August 2, 2020.

Members of the Cebu Provincial Tourism Task Force led by Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia all agreed that reviving tourism in Cebu starts from water to land, thus it is only fitting that the first All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) adventure in southern Cebu is launched. 

Department of Tourism Central Visayas Director Shalimar Tamano underscored that Cebu is not only known as a “water world” because of its beaches but also of the beautiful mountains and land adventures. 

“We insisted nga dili lang dagat ang ipakita kay known naman ta nga we are waterworld, ipakita pud nato ang atong bukid og ang atong mga terrain,” Tamano said on the task force’s decision to include Barili in the southern circuit launch of the tourism reboot dubbed “Re-igniting the Flames of Tourism in Cebu.”

Tamano added Cebu that is incomparable to other provinces in the country because it offers a wide variety of tourism activities from ridge to reef, from land to sea. 

“Ang ato man gyung Cebu, I always compare the island of Cebu with the island of Bali wa man gud tay kompetinsya sa nasud. Ang atong kompetinsya sa Asya man, Bali, kanang mga isla sa Thailand. So diha pud ang Bali Gov. (Governor Garcia) dagat og bukid,” he said.

Because of that, Tamano said they insisted to include Osmeña Peak in Dalaguete and Balamban tourist destinations in their marketing videos. 

They will be closely working with the Provincial Tourism Office, he added.

Aside from these three towns, tourism activities in Badian and Alegria (canyoneering), Aloguinsan (river cruise), Dalaguete (trekking and mountain climbing), Asturias and Barili (dolphin watching) are expected to start. 
Garcia is expected to lead the relaunch of scuba diving, snorkeling, island hopping and other activities in the towns of Daanbantayan, and the islands of Malapascua and the Camotes group.

In Barili, Garcia rode the ATV with his brothers Deputy Speaker Pablo John “PJ” Garcia and Barili Mayor Marlon Garcia.

Mayor Marlon acted as track marshal and waved the flag to signal the start of the adventure in the terrains of Barangay Nasipit in his town. 

Garcia led the group of various government officials in the 10.5-kilometer ATV ride which included Deputy Speaker Pablo John, Cordova Mayor Mary Therese Sitoy-Cho, Provincial Board members  Jose Mari “Tata” Salvador (2nd District), Atty. John Ismael “Jimbo” Borgonia (3rd District), and the members of the Provincial Tourism Task Force including Department of Trade and Industry Assistant Secretary Asteria Caberte, Department of Tourism Regional Director Shalimar Hofer Tamano, AFP Central Command Chief Lt. Gen. Roberto Ancan, AFP Group Commander for Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor Col. Jerry Borja, and Provincial Police Office Director Roderick Mariano at 11:50 a.m. on Saturday.

The ATV adventure, a first in southern Cebu, is due to the efforts of Mayor Marlon to give additional attraction to Barili.

“Ang mahitabo man gud niani kadtong gusto musakay og ATV, mag trekking, pagkahuman mahimo pa muadto sa Mantayupan Falls. Unya naa pay fishing-Tilapya Fishing og pwede ka mo istar sa mga resorts. So, it really benefits so many businesses down the line, mao man gyud ning turismo daghan kaayo nga mga down the line industries nga matabang, magkanit-kanit,” the governor said.

Garcia said tourism is not a leisure activity but livelihood to many. It is the economic driver of Cebu Island.

That is why during her first three terms as governor, she focused on promoting tourism by launching the Suroy-suroy Sugbo
and now, re-igniting the tourism flames of Cebu Province. 

“This is what tourism is all about, this means livelihood, panginabuhi alang sa atong kaigsuonang Sugbuanon. Mao nang gi ablihan ta ni og pagbalik. Apan niining atong pag-abli og balik dili ni nga nagpasagad ta, kahibaw man ta naa man gyud ang Covid. It has become part of our lives but must we, must we put our livelihoods aside because of Covid?” she said, adding even if there is no vaccine, many have recovered.

Garcia said when the Covid-19 broke out, she was the first, and Cebu Island was the first Province that closed its doors. 

For months and after dissecting data, she sees the need to reopen the tourism industry. This was after her consultations and dialogues with different government and private institutions. 

“As leaders it is incumbent upon us to read the data, separate the chaff from the grain and reach a reasonable conclusion which, above all, will uphold the greater good for the greater number. Ug unsa may greater good nato karun, ang pagtabang pag-usab sa atong mga kaigsuonan nga lima na ka bulan nga gigutom.”

“As governor of Cebu I will always uphold the greater interest of the greater number of Cebuanos, not pecuniary and personal interest of some,” she said. 

Mayor Marlon expressed his gratitude to the governor for reopening the tourism activities in the Province especially in Barili because this means livelihood to many. (Mylen Manto and Vanessa Almeda)