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Canyoneering in Badian, Alegria resumes
By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Tuesday, September 1, 2020
Cebu’s canyoneering activities in the towns of Badian and Alegria are back after a five-month hiatus brought by the Covid-19 pandemic. (Tonee Despojo)

Close to 600 tour guides and tour operators in Badian stood up and clapped their hands in gratefulness and admiration for Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia whom they hailed as their modern-day hero for her steadfast role in realizing their wish to bring back the town’s tourism activities. 

“Ako gihangyo ang atong mga operators ug atong mga guides sa pagtindog kay karon August 31 is National Heroes Day, atong pakpakan ang atong hero dinhi sa probinsya sa Sugbo. Salamat kaayo Gov,” Association of Kawasan Canyoneering Operators in Badian (Akcob) President Gerry Duque said in his message of gratitude to the governor.

The tour guides and operators welcomed Garcia at the entrance of the town’s Kawasan Falls for the official re-opening of canyoneering activities in the tourism site. 

“Karon, August 31, Badian, opisyal na nga atong buksan ang canyoneering activities diri sa Badian,” the governor announced.

Garcia, who recently suffered a hip injury, continues to work daily at the Capitol and travel to different towns to deliver her promise to the Cebuanos.

On Monday, August 31, the governor kept her promise to reopen Badian and Alegria canyoneering activities that left local stakeholders, who have suffered so much during the five-month lockdown, happy and grateful.

“Dako kaayo namong pasalamat nimo Gov, ang atoang untiring Gov. Gwen nga bisan sa iyang sitwasyon karon, nianhi gyud siya nato. Wa gyud ni ka stop niya ang iyahang injury, gikan siya sa norte ug nia na sad siya sa south para lang gyud nato mga ordinaryong tawo sa Badian,” Duque said.

Hesus Allan Capio, who also heads Kawasan Adventure and Tour Services Association (Katsa Inc.) happily said, “salamat kaayo Gov kay makakita na mi’g hitsura sa kwarta nalimot nami’g unsa kolor sa kwarta, kay imo gitugutan pag open na sab ang canyoneering.” 

In her speech, Garcia gave recognition to the indomitable spirit of Cebuanos amidst tragedies.

“Sayod ko ang Sugbuanon dili buot niana nga mag-agad na lang nga maghuwat nga matagaan kay buot usab siya nga motrabaho sa iyang kaugalingong singot nga maoy iyang ipakaon sa iyang pamilya. Ang dignidad sa trabaho,” the governor said.

This indomitable spirit had  pushed her to fight for the downgrading of the community restrictions in the province. 

She narrated that she even reached the office of Malacañang so the province will be classified under a Modified General Community Quarantine (MGCQ) that will allow the opening of its doors to tourism activities again.

“Ug mao kana nga gi-fight gyud nako nga ma-MGCQ ta. Gikan sa ECQ unya nahimong GCQ apan kay di paman gihapon tugtan kun GCQ kining mga tourism activities, nihangyo jud ko, niabot ko sa Malacañang ana. Ako gyud gihangyo nga i-MGCQ ang probinsya ayaw tawon ikuyog sa dakbayan sa Sugbo kay lahi to didto, lahi ra sad mi diri,” Garcia recalled.

She also highlighted the solidarity of political leaders, regardless of political affiliations, who have come united for the common good of Cebuanos.

“Sa probinsya duna tay kahiusahan, ang tanan mga mayor, magkadilain man ang politikanhong bulok apan panahon niining pandemya nagkahiusa, ug ako sab gitabangan tanan, way pili-pili kay di ni panahon sa pamolitika,” she said.

The governor also reiterated her stand on why she pushed for the reopening the tourism industry, Cebu’s main economic driver, as thousands of its constituents were left with no money to fend for its families.

“Ug labing naapektohan ang atong mga industrya, aktibidades ug negosyo sa turismo nga nagkabat aning canyoonering, waterfalls sightseeing. Ang atong mga negosyo sa resorts, restaurants, ang mga nagsugod sa ginagmay nga negosyo nga makabaligya og biko, bingka, budbod maruya, barbeque, salvaro. Wa nama’y mamalit kay wa nama’y moari. Undang tanan,” she said. 

For the governor, the 600 tour operators and guides represent the people who were displaced and need the help of the government. 

“Matag usa kanila nag representar ug pamilya. Matag pamilya, gawas sa ginikanan, naay mga anak gikinahanglan pakan-on. Mao ni sila ang mga naapektahan kay nasira ang turismo,” Garcia said.

She also emphasized that the process of deciding when to open Cebu’s tourism went through a tedious process of consultation, inputs and sharing of ideas among the Provincial Task Force and the tourism stakeholders. 

She then urged everyone to follow Executive Order 20-A judiciously as this enumerates the health protocols for tourism activities. 

“Ako gihangyo nga inyo gyud ning balik-balikan sa pagbasa, pagtuon labaw sa tanan sa pagsunod,” the governor said. 

In Alegria town,  more than 60 members of the Alegria Canyoonering Experience Tour Guides Assoc (Acetga) also expressed their gratitude to the governor. 

Romeo Cabales, Acetga president and councilor of Barangay Compostela, said that since the lockdown, majority of their members had to rely on vegetables and root crops for their source of food. 

“Sauna normal pa, wa pa ang Covid, hayahay na gyud ang pagkabutang. Sa siyam ka barangay sa Alegria kami ang pinakapobre. I-kumpara sa sauna og karon nabalik mi sa zero. Gani mga guide nako, nagbaol (farming) na sila,” Cabales said.

But with the resumption of this tourism activity, Cabales is hopeful that guests will slowly return to their area in a steady stream. 

“Ako gikahalipay og dako uban sa akong mga tour guide (ang pagbalik sa canyoneering) og naghinaut nga ngadto-ngadto mapadayon na ning canyoneering,” he said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)