Siargao, a prime Philippine tourism destination, is part of the province of Surigao del Norte. It is one of the islands in the Philippines which faces the Pacific Ocean, making it one of the spots in the country where the sun rises and sets first. I went there recently for an assignment, and I easily fell for its insanely great scenery, awesome waters, and hospitable people. This post will feature my photos and coverage on the visit of Tourism Secretary Alberto A. Lim to Siargao. I will definitely write a different post on Siargao soon! Siargao, I shall return! ;)
Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim visited Siargao Island for the 1st Lip-Lipan Festival or the Billfish Festival and the 4th Siargao International Game-Fishing Tournament held last April 28 to May 1. He was welcomed by Congressman Lalo Matugas, Governor Sol Matugas, and the Mayors of Siargao. Secretary Lim arrived at Siargao Airport in Del Carmen with Department of Tourism (DOT) Region XIII Director Leticia Tan, Surigao City Mayor Ernesto Tinio Matugas, and his first lady, Tita Carla.
Upon arrival, we immediately went to the opening of the 1st Lip-lipan or Bill Fish Festival, where the people performed dances their dances and cheers, to give thanks for good catch all year 'round. They also opened the 2nd Siargao Island Agri-Aqua Trade Fair and Exhibit, where the Secretary and his wife were able to see Siargao's produce. Their products (vegetables, seafood, etc) are notably really big and fresh.
Secretary Lim was happy to see that there were tourist police around Siargao. He immediately asked me to snap a shot of him with the DOT-PNP's Tourism Oriented Police for Community Order and Protection (TOPCOP) "graduates." Apparently, they just had their seminar and "graduated" last month in Surigao City.
"Stress Relief." The photo below is taken around 4pm from one of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Home-stay Program houses, which the Secretary visited before going to the opening of the Game-Fishing tournament. Since there are no hotels in Siargao (maybe just a few resorts in General Luna), the Department of Tourism used the Home-stay program to host tourists when they stay in the island.
The program also gives the locals livelihood and exposes them to different kinds of people. For around 1,200 pesos, guests will be able to enjoy a room, with air conditioning, towel, toiletries, and 3 meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner). I tell you, it's all worth it because usually, they serve you really fresh fish, crabs or lobsters.
He was able to meet, dialogue and consult with the Siargao local government officials, and tourism officials regarding tourism sites and development in the area and the region.
“We would like to promote different kinds of tourism based on natural endowments, our strengths. Sports tourism and adventure tourism is one of those new forms of tourism that we have a particular endowment for, especially in the island of Siargao,” says Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim.
The next day, the Secretary was able to visit General Luna, the Surfing Capital of the Philippines, and maybe of Asia, where the famous Cloud 9 and its perfect waves, are voted one of the best by surfers all over the world. Mayor Jaime Rusillon was gracious enough to tour us around Cloud 9. Definitely, the platform built many years ago needs upgrading and needs an upkeep so that more tourists and guests may be able to enjoy and watch surfers hit the waves.
Apparently, Siargao will be hosting the National Surfing Cup on September 17-20, the Billabong Pro-Junior Championship Tour on September 21-28, and the Siargao International Surfing Cup on September 29 to October 03. It will also be the venue of the first ever South East Asian Games surfing tilt. 26th SEAGAMES here we come!
Gerry Degan, and his wife Susan, of Sagana Resort in General Luna, Siargao welcomed Secretary Lim in his resort. Too bad the Secretary wasn't able to try and learn how to surf (because it was low tide). Instead, he was able to try to hold a surfboard, and pose with it. This photo, I like very much! :)
(L-R: Surigao Governor Sol Matugas, Gerry Degan, General Luna Mayor Jaime Rusillon, Carla Lim, Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, and Surigao del Norte Congressman Lalo Matugas)
From the resort, he went straight to Del Carmen, met with Mayor JR Matugas Coro, and back to Manila through the Sayak Airport in Siargao.
Siargao still needs a lot of help not only from the government but also from the private sector. Investing in Siargao will definitely go a long way. If only I had that much money, I would put it there! Siargao has a lot to offer, not only does it have the best waves in the region, but also it has one of the best environment for relaxation, sports, and nature-tripping, if you ask me.