Turnover of the Guiuan Tourism Masterplan
ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation Inc. - Bantay Kalikasan together with partner volunteer consultants, Ms. Marissa Cos Alcantara (ASEAN Master Trainer for Tourism and President of Pirkko & Troytours, Inc.) and Arch. Kristofferson (Chino) Reyes (Landscape Architect, Urban Planner and Principal of Credesign Inc.) turned over the Guiuan Tourism Masterplan to the Municipality of Guiuan, Eastern Samar on January 4, 2019. This collaboration started when during a meeting with Ms. Janet Israel-Ramos (Municipal Tourism Officer-in-charge) in the first quarter of 2018, expressed the need for the municipality to craft and be assisted in the development of the plan. Anchored on principles of sustainability, environmental stewardship and empowerment of community-based social enterprises, the consultants along with other volunteers, Arch. Aaron Lecciones (Credesign Inc.), Arch. Nappy Navara and Arch. Franklin Fontanoza (PhilIppine Assocation of Landscape Architects) went through the process of participatory approach utilized for the planning process.
Ms. Janet Israel-Ramos
True to the process, a series of consultations, presentations, visioning sessions and discussions were done with representatives from various sectors and stakeholders including the Local Government, Local Tourism Council, Sanggunian, Barangay, Department of Tourism, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Church, Academe, Residents and communities, youth and local participants from the tourism industry.
Guiuan is located at the southeastern tip of Samar island. It is bounded on the east by the Philippine Sea and the Pacific Ocean, on the south by the Surigao Strait and on the west by the Leyte Gulf.
More known to many as the reference point for typhoons in the country, Guiuan is actually blessed with rich natural resources and high potential tourism areas such as Calicoan Surf site, Linao Cave, historical churches and islands for island hopping.
Arch. Chino said, “In order to create meaningful sites, we need to take into consideration natural charateristics, proper placements, design standards and striking balance among needs. We look at a place or a town and develop not just structures but the character.”
Arch. Chino Reyes
The tourism masterplan identifed a clustering strategy where 2 major tourism circuits can be developed: Spiritual Tourism and Adventure Tourism.
According to Ms. Marissa Alcantara, “the returning of the Balangiga bells which is near and en route to Guiuan, along with the increasing market for faith-based travels; Guiuan poses high potential and can definitely attract local and international tourists. Inclusions of the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the St. Anthony of Padua Shrine provides spritual as well as cultural and historical perspectives to one’s journey to Guiuan.”
Ms. Marissa Alcantara
The Tourism Masterplan is the start as the municipality further moves forward with the promotion of local and sustainable tourism.
In his message, Mayor Christopher Sheen P. Gonzales thanked the foundation and volunteer consultants for this landmark contribution. He also thanked the Sangguniang Bayan and all the stakeholders who supported the initiative. “God is always there, there is a purpose and He sends instruments who can help you.”
Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales
Jen Deomano Santos, Program Director of Bantay Kalikasan expressed her gratitude to all the volunteer consultants, “it is always a joy to facilitate collaborations like this where private and public sector partnerships work towards the betterment of the lives of communities. Having all sectors included and working towards same goals and missions are always enriching experiences. As important as the outputs of the projects is the journey we take to get here. The tourism masterplan, the tourism development plan and the actual implementation that will come after hope to strike the balance among stewardship of natural resources, sustainability, great and innovative designs, and resiliency. The foundation is blessed to work with generous volunteers who give their talent, time and generally themselves in the service of others.”
Bantay Kalikasan continues its efforts to assist partner communities in the municipality including those in the island of Manicani. Guiuan is also the site of one of the Yolanda legacy projects of Operation Sagip at the Guiuan National Highschool.
(L-R: Hon. Florian Perez, Hon. Eric Cordero, ABC Pres. Mary Charmaine G. Villar, Mayor Sheen Gonzales, Jen Deomano Santos, Marissa Alcantara, Arch. Chino Reyes, Jun Figueroa)