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Alegria opens one-stop tourism hub, to build hilltop eco-resort
By: Vanessa Almeda | Published Sunday, December 13, 2020
Gov. Gwen Garcia led the opening of a one-stop tourism hub in Alegria, southern Cebu. (Tonee Despojo)

The Municipality of Alegria opened its tourism hub that will serve local tourists including bike enthusiasts who will visit this southern part of Cebu.

With no less than Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia as its honored guest, the multiple tourism event held last week also marked the historic groundbreaking of the eco-tourism facility on top of the scenic Libo Hills in Barangay Lepanto, Alegria. 

The governor could not contain her amazement as the heritage site was transformed into a one-stop-shop tourism hub that includes a visitors’ lounge and organic snack bar, health and wellness facility, and a pasalubong center all in one place. 

“Karon adlawa nakita nato ang tanan nga kausaban nga nahitabo in just a space of 3 months. Wow, naglingo-lingo ko! So much can be done kung maningkamot gyud,” Garcia said as she congratulated the local government unit (LGU) of Alegria for transforming the place in so short a time amidst the ongoing pandemic.

“This afternoon, may I say you are also amazing Alegria,” she expressed commending the town for the changes it has done in keeping with its tourism tagline of “Beautiful Alegria.”

The governor said the tourism feat done by the LGU showed the real spirit of Cebuanos amidst the “gloom and doom” that has characterized the country for the past several months. 

“Sultian ta mo, mao ni maghatag og kusog nako, nga makita nako ang paningkamot sa Sugboanon, lahi gyud. Dili nato tugutan ang kalisdanan, ang mga hagit sa kinabuhi, dili nato himuon nga hinungdan nga dili na ta molihok. Bisan pa man og unsay atong agian, mobarug ta ug atong ipakita kaya ni namo kay Sugbuanon mi, Alegriahanon mi,” she expressed.

She then challenged all local officials in the Province to do the same. 

“May what has happened here be a challenge and an inspiration to all of our other mayors. And I know you are also up to it," Garcia said. 

Prior to the activity, the governor inaugurated the town’s tourism information center located at the ground floor of the municipal hall.

Officials from the Province welcomed the timely opening of the facility for it will finally give visitors who travel to the south of Cebu a place to drop by to eat and shop for souvenir products and local delicacies.

Second District Rep. Peter John Calderon said the opening of the several tourism facilities is timely especially that Cebu's economy is now slowly recovering because of what the governor has started.  

"Bisan wala pa ang pandemic daghang gusto mohunong pero wala silay mahunungan. Pero today there is something nga atong ika-offer," Calderon said. 

"I am sure this will become a popular stop for our guests who will come to the south," he said. 

Provincial Board (PB) member Gerome Librando said this is the first of its kind in the second district of Cebu where tourists who are looking for place to stop after a long travel to eat and buy local delicacies.

Also now that trail biking is becoming a popular past time, this place will be the best stop-over for wary and tired bike enthusiasts, PB member Christoper Baricuatro added.

New summer capital

In the scenic Libo Hills considered as the “Little Baguio of Alegria,” the LGU partnered with the local people’s organization (PO) Lepantohanong Hugpong sa Kalambuan (Lehuk) for the establishment of the mountain resort.

Libo Hills is a timberland area covered under the 478.20-hectare Community Based Forest Management Agreement (CBFMA) which Lehuk holds. 

Magallon said Lehuk’s CBFMA still has nine years left before it will expire but the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is willing to extend it due to their successful management of the timberland area. In 2018, Lehuk was awarded regional CBFM model PO.

The mayor said she is hopeful that with the realization of the mountain resort, the town will be positioned as the next summer capital of Cebu. 

Presently, it Barangay Mantalongon in Dalaguete town is Cebu’s summer capital as declared more than a decade ago.

Garcia hailed the development as this will raise the bar of tourism in Cebu. 

“With this dream of putting up a mountain resort, inubanan sa Lehuk people’s organization, this is going to raise the bar of tourism right here in the Province of Cebu. So congratulations once again for continuing to strive for excellence nga dili ta modawat na lang ug ‘ah pwede na.’ Mao kana ang Sugbuanon nga diwa nga kanunay maningkamot unsaon pa nato pag-paanindot, unsaon pa nato pag-abot didto sa mas taas pa nga posisyon,” Garcia said.

Private organizations have pitched in to build their own cottages which has now grown to 60 partners from its original plan of 30 cottages, Magallon said.

The Capitol provided a check worth P4 million to fund the construction of the viewing deck and multi-purpose building. 

A local ordinance was already passed for the creation of the eco-tourism site which had the participation of the PO and the local officials, Magallon said.

The barangay also adopted its version of the ordinance which includes the sharing in income for the economic enterprise, Lehuk president Juan Medel said, adding that local vendors are not allowed to set up within the 500 kilometer radius of the site.

Medel said they are already prepared for the influx of tourists in the future which will ensure the protection of the flora and fauna that is still found in the area. 

Lehuk has also formed the Eco-Tourism Council which takes charge of the issues and concerns that may happen in the future, he said. (Vanessa L. Almeda)