Yesterday, the Department of Tourism (DOT), together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) gave recognition to Puerto Princesa City and its leadership Mayor Edward Hagedorn for the inclusion of the Puerto Princesa Underground River as one of the New7Wonders of Nature.
Held at the DoT Atrium, the program was headed by no less than the Secretary of Tourism himself Ramon Jimenez, Jr., DENR Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio Jr, who represented Secretary Ramon Jesus Paje, and a representative of Secretary Jessie Robredo, together with officials of the DoT and public sector representatives. The three lead agencies of the Philippine Government gave their commendation messages to the Mayor and to Puerto Princesa.
Sec. Jimenez said, "Alam po ninyo ngayon ko lang nalaman kung bakit ipinagkaloob ng Diyos ang Puerto Princesa Underground River sa Puerto Princesa. You know why? Because obviously meeting the people of Puerto Princesa. God wanted the world to meet them. And when you think about it. He probably gave this country the Underground River because God wants the world to meet us."
"Our new tourism program, in fact, 'It’s more fun in the Philippines,' is actually, when you think about it, is based on Puerto Princesa itself and the Underground River, because it is not just the Underground River that you go to, it is the people of Puerto Princesa that complete the experience," he adds.
Meanwhile, Tourism Undersecretary Baba Jasmin shared the ongoing Tourism projects in Southern Tagalog Region, under the Region IV Director Louella Jurilla, more specifically in Palawan and Puerto Princesa.
Puerto Princesa leads by example, she says, "through its best practices in empowering communities to benefit from sustainable management of the environment." She adds that "its strategy is to develop a living network of ecotourism sites that have weaned communities from dynamite fishing, kaingin and subsistence farming."
Puerto Princesa is a carbon-neutral city, which is the pilot location of the Department of Tourism and the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority's Zero Carbon Resorts Project. The Department lends its full support in the development of a booking system for the Puerto Princesa Underground River (PPUR), industry-wide skills training projects and operation of an expanded tourist police force, and the development of public toilets in PPUR.
Puerto Princesa Palawan Mayor Edward Hagedorn, together with Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, Jr., Palawan 1st District Congressman Antonio Alvarez, DILG and DENR representatives on stage for a photo opportunity.
"But it is no surprise to us because its local government leadership along with the mayor himself is quite a wonder of nature also. I have never seen a more dedicated and earnest mayor," says Secretary Jimenez, praising Mayor Hagedorn.
He adds, "And I will tell you right now, as your Tourism Secretary, the greatest successes we have in tourism, are always, always when the local governments are activists, tourism is a success."
"We now have a new theme that demands that everyone begin to walk the talk. Nangako ho tayo ng fun, and our commitment now, is we shall be measured by a simple metric - how much fun are we capable of."
Photo of the award of recognition given by the agencies to Puerto Princesa City and its mayor.
Photo shows the winner of the Php 25,000,000 (25 million pesos) drawn via electronic raffle from those who have texted to vote for PPUR during the campaign for the New7Wonders of Nature. Draw was facilitated by the DTI. Winner hid her face for security reasons.