Governor Gwendolyn Garcia urged Cebuanos to rekindle a love for their own as she asked them to rediscover Cebu and appreciate its beauty and charm. This was during the formal re-opening of canyoneering activities in Alegria town Monday, August 31.
Held at the area where it first started 15 years ago in Canlaob Falls in Barangay Compostela, Gov. Garcia said she will never forsake the people whom she swore to serve, especially those who need her most because they lost their jobs and livelihood due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Dili nako madawat nga magpakabuta-bungol na lang ko, kay ang akong gipanumpaan mao ang pag-alagad sa tanan labina sa labaw nga nagkinahanglan," Garcia told tour guides who resorted to farming in order to survive the pandemic.
Garcia is confident that Cebu's tourism revival is feasible because of the untapped domestic market: the 3.2 million Cebuanos. She believes that with the cooperation of everyone, Cebu's economy will be able to resuscitate itself.
"Naa na daan ang market. Kung ang matag Sugbuanon motabang lang sa iyang isig ka Sugbuanon, kinsa pa may magtinabangay kun dili kita na mismo mga Sugbuanon," she said.
Garcia said it is about time that Cebuanos know the beauty and charm of their very own place.
"It's time. Kadaghan natong naa sa syudad wa gani kaila hain dapit ning Alegria, wa kahibaw hain nang Aloguinsan. Discover the beauty of your own province kay pagkatahom sa lalawigan sa Sugbo," the governor added.
She also noted that some have even gone to other areas in the Philippines and other countries except Cebu.
"Nag-abot-abot namo sa ubang lugar, sa ubang mga nasud sa kalibutan apan isip Sugbuanon, it is your duty to know your own province and appreciate the beauty and charm of the one and only, soon to be number one again, Province of Cebu," Garcia said.
"Busa mga pinalangga nakong Alegrehanon sa makausa pa, Que alegre Alegria kay ang canyoneering gibuksan na!" Garcia said, officially declaring the reopening of canyoonering.
Canyoneering was an unchartered opportunity for the local government units (LGU) of Barangay Compostela and Alegria town some 15 years ago when locals allowed foreigners to come and go and enjoy the beauty of Canlaob Falls.
It was in 2013 when the LGU formally took over and declared it a tourism site, requiring visitors to pay for its use while regulating their entry and asking them to preserve the environment.
"This is a very new product nga I think daghan pa sa tourism industry wa gyud ka experience. That's why they cannot talk about it with confidence kay you know, to experience it is to believe," Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 Director Shahlimar Tamano said.
In fact, Tamano took the trek and jumped in one of the eight jump points of the Canlaob trail right after the governor's launch announcement.
"The newest product sa atong tourism is really a gift, an environmental gift which we should take care of," he said.
Canlaob's canyoneering trail is world-class and one of the top destinations of visitors from Germany, United Kingdom, Russia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and China.
It is also comparable and competitive to other popular Asian destinations because it promotes the rich flora and fauna of Cebu's countrysides.
"What you see in Cebu are mountains, forests, diving. There is something to do that is active, so it's really an active lifestyle," he said.
He added that the guests from Japan, Korea and Taiwan are mostly young because of the nature of Cebu’s offerings.
"So that's the image that we want to promote pud (that) Cebu is safe, Cebu is sustainable and Cebu is young," the tourism official added.
"It's different if you enjoy it, experience it," he said.
Alegria Mayor Verna Magallon, for her part, urged her constituents to be inspired with the work of the governor, saying her presence should serve as a challenge for everyone to work harder to improve Alegria's tourism industry.
"Kinahanglan, with the presence of Gov. Gwen with us this morning (despite her injury), mao ni maka-inspire ninyong tanan nga maningkamot gyud ta aron mapalambo nato ang atong turismo sa Alegria," Magallon said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)