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Dagupan’s Bangus Festival kicks off April 2



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Dagupan’s biggest summer spectacle, Bangus Festival, will reel off on April 2 to May 1 with new and exciting events awaiting visitors and the locals.

Among the the new events are the holding of a “Fun, Fun, Fun ed Tondaligan” set in the newly re-launched Tondaligan Beach by the Lingayen Gulf, rich with its famous sands.

However, prior to the festival’s grand opening, the Bangusan Village will be opened on March 31 at the New De Venecia Extension Highway to host a carnival and a flea market called “baratillo”, and a food court for native delicacies, an activity seen to last till June 30 in time for the celebration of Dagupan City’s Platinum Year on June 20, marking Dagupan’s 75th year as an independent component city.

City Tourism Officer Sharon Maramba said all the activities during the grand opening day will be held at the Tondaligan Blue Beach where people will have a chance to enjoy watching the sand sculpture contest, kite flying, “Galaw na Ogogaw” (Children’s Games) and “Sayawan ed Tondaligan”.

Also at the beach is the volleyball clinic of the Beach Volleyball Republic on April 7 to 9 to help facilitate the holding of a local beach volleyball tournament among local players.

In this activity, beachcombers will have the chance to watch their favorite national beach volleyball players in the flesh who will compete in the Beach Volleyball Exhibition Finals.

Local skateboard fanatics will also compete with each other in the 4th Wave Skateboarding Competition dubbed as “Skate the Tides” set on April 8 at the Dagupan City Plaza while slalom enthusiasts will have a chance to watch their favorite players play the game at the CSI Helipad on April 9 in the 2017 Slalom Event.

Part of the festival celebration would be the giving of employment opportunities to local job seekers in a job fair set on April 20 starting at 9:00 a.m. at the CSI Atrium.

April 21 would be the day slated for the “Gilon-Gilon ed Baley”, a street dancing competition among the city’s 31 villages to select which team will represent the city in the much awaited Festivals of the North, an all star street dancing competition on April 28.

After the Gilon-Gilon ed Baley, the Bangus Rodeo, a bangus beauty pageant and games will be held the next day at the city plaza.

On April 22 to 23, there will be the Philswim at the Dagupan City poolside. In the evening of April 22, the UP North Music and Arts Festival will be held at the CSI Helipad.

At 5:00 in the early morning of April 23, the Bangus Festival Fun Run at the New De Venecia Extension Highway will be held, to be followed by an open golf tournament at the Dagupan Golf and Beach Club in Bonuan and the Mistisang Bangus Gay Beauty Pageant at the Dagupan City Plaza starting at 6:00 p.m.

The different ways to cook bangus called the Bangusine, a Bangus Culinary Showcase, will be held on April 25 at the city plaza from 4:00 in the afternoon.

On April 26 at 5:00 p.m., hip-hop dancers will compete against each other in the Dance Philippines Hip-hop Battle at the city plaza.

The Bangusan Street Party at the New De Venecia Extension Highway will be held on April 30 while on May 1, on the occasion of the Pistay Dayat (Sea Festival), there will be Beach Bodies Party at Tondaligan Blue Beach.

Well-known bands like Sponge Cola, Itchyworms, Rocksteddy, Silent Sanctuary, SUD, Jensen and the Flips, Lunarlights, Brisom, Up Dharma Down, Giniling Festival and more will perform during the Bangusan Street Party. (PNA)

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DOT: Tourist Arrival in January Reach “All-Time High” Record




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The Department of Tourism (DOT) announced that tourist arrivals in the country reached an “all-time high” record in January, breaching last year’s figure by 15.97 percent with 732,506 foreign visitors in the Philippines.

The figures gathered by the DOT Tourism Research and Statistics Division, Office of Tourism Planning, showed that a significant factor is the influx of Chinese tourists, as well as the continued arrivals en masse of South Koreans, still the country’s top visitor market.

Data disclosed by the agency showed that South Koreans’ 198,145 arrivals reflect an impressive 28.36 percent rise from January 2017 while the Chinese arrivals of 111,344 indicate a 29.55 percent increase from the same period last year.

“This welcome news bodes well for the tourism sector and the government’s efforts to boost the tourism industry, which is among the top contributors to our gross domestic product,” said Tourism Secretary Wanda Corazon Tulfo-Teo in a statement Wednesday.

“Last year’s momentum carried over this year with the improved air connectivity via increased flights between Philippine gateways and various airports in major visitor markets, including China, Korea, the United States, Australia and Canada,” she added.

Recently, Xiamen Airlines mounted a three-times-a-week commercial direct-flight services between Fuzhou, China to Kalibo, Aklan and Puerto Princesa, using Airbus A321 with 197 seat capacity.

“Another new route from China that our Route Development Team is working on is the Tiajin (TJN)-Puerto Princesa (PPS),” bared Teo.

“The development of new routes is in consonance with our National Tourism Development Plan’s strategy to upgrade air connectivity from major tourist source markets to the Philippines,” she said.

Also posting a double-digit growth from January 2017 is the United States with visitor arrivals of 109,154 an increase of 14.90 percent, Japan with 57,038 an increase of 7.79 percent, and Australia with 30,924 arrivals, a 4.41 percent growth.

Other arrivals that improved in January 2018 compared to the same period last year are Canada, 28,913; Taiwan, 18,948; United Kingdom, 18,111; India, 13,779; Singapore 13,627; Malaysia, 12,012; and Hongkong with 9,284 visitors.

“I am confident that with the combined efforts of the DOT and the stakeholders, we will achieve our 7.5 million target international arrivals in 2018,” Teo ended.

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Business News

Boracay Tourist Arrivals Up by 10 Percent




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Tourist arrivals in the island of Boracay increased by 10.04 percent for the first month of 2018, a record from the Aklan Provincial Tourism Office showed.

According to APTO, Boracay received a total of 186,893 tourists from January 1 to 31 of this year; 17,050 higher than those the island welcomed in January 2017.

Of the total tourists recorded in the first month of this year, foreign tourists listed were 125,910; while domestic tourists were 55,216; and the Overseas Filipinos were 5,767.
The said number of tourists generated a total of P5,948,343,105.60 in tourism receipts; wherein P4,962,853,459.20 came from the foreign tourists and Overseas Filipinos; and P985,489,646.40 were from the domestic tourists.
Meanwhile, Chinese and Korean tourists remain the top foreign visitors of the island in January this year with 54,615 and 44,458 arrivals, respectively.
Also included in the top 10 foreign visitor list were nationals from United States of America with 2,567 arrivals; Russia 2,360; Australia 2,107; Taiwan 1,915; United Kingdom 1,820; Malaysia 1,385; Saudi Arabia 1,351; and Canada 1,205.
In a press release, the Department of Tourism-Boracay said that the island is targetting 17 international cruise ship calls in the first six months of the year that could bring in a total of 58,000 tourists in the resort island.
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Guests Impressed as First Leg of Suroy-Suroy 2018 Ends



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The three-day, two-night Suroy-Suroy Sugbo 2018 Adventure Round South successfully ended last January 26 with 37 guests, mostly balikbayans, in praise of Cebu’s cultural heritage, attractions, and hospitality.

They visited the towns of San Fernando, Argao, Dalaguete, Boljoon, Oslob, Samboan, Santander, Ginatilan, Alegria, Moalboal, and Barili, as well as the cities of Carcar and Talisay, where they got to taste local food and delicacies, and were treated to cultural presentations and local dance and songs. A few also went swimming with whale sharks in Oslob and canyoneering in Alegria.

Guests drop by San Fernando town for a short stop of the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 Adventure Round South.

From the Capitol, the guests first made a short stop at the municipal hall of San Fernando before proceeding to Argao, where Mayor Stanley Caminero personally welcomed them and Vice Governor Agnes Magpale inside the town’s Archdiocesan Shrine and Parish of Saint Michael the Archangel.

Pipe organ

Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests listen as heavenly music from its newly restored pipe organ filled the Argao church.

The guests also got to listen to melodious music from the church’s newly restored pipe organ, which has been silent for forty years and was functional again only last December 2017. After the firing of the town’s colonial period-but-still-functional cannons to officially welcome them, the guests lunched on local Argao food and were treated to Cebuano music performed by the Colawin Rondalla; a fashion show featuring the hablon creations of Dexter Alazas; and demonstrations on hablon weaving, torta making, and tableya making.

Argao pulled all stops just to make Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests feel welcomed, including transporting a functional loom to its cabecera for a demonstration of hablon making.

From Argao, the guests went up to the mountains of Mantalongon in Dalaguete town, where Acting Mayor Jeffrey Belciña met them with a brass band playing favorite Cebuano songs. They were also treated to a helping of local delicacies. The guests got to bring with them fresh vegetables, Mantalongon being the “vegetable basket of Cebu,” before leaving for Boljoon town, where they visited the Nuestra Señora del Patrocinio de Maria Parish Church and the church’s museum. With Mayor Merlo Derama leading his townsfolk in welcoming them, the guests were served with refreshments right next to the town’s El Gran Baluarte.

A visit to Mantalongon, Dalaguete is not complete if the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests do not get to bring home a basket of vegetables.


Boljoon local guide Nozzie Medida regals Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests with the stories of their town’s church.

From Boljoon, the guests proceeded to Oslob, where they got to experience again the tolling of church bells for the age-old six-o’-clock Angelus. Prior to dinner at the town’s beautiful heritage park located by the sea, the guests visited the Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception church as well as the cuartel (colonial era barracks) close to it. Mayor Jose Tumulak Jr. wished the guests well during their short stay and requested that they tell their relatives to likewise visit the town, which is the site of the world famous whale shark watching.

Making guests feel at home would not be complete without showcasing our local and folk dances. Here, Boljoon students entertain the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests with a presentation at the town’s cabecera.

After spending the night in Oslob, the guests started the second day of the tour by proceeding to the Sanayon in Santander, where Mayor Marilyn Wenceslao introduced them to her town’s own specialty delicacies.
From Santander, the guests went to Tangbo, Samboan, the site of the magnificent Aguinid Falls, and the Samboan heritage park, where they visited the San Miguel Archangel parish church, the baluarte or watchtower, and the town’s museum. Ma. Victoria “Marivic” Calderon, the wife of Mayor Emerito Calderon and head of the town’s Tourism and Heritage Council, acted as their guide. Samboan also served them local food and delicacies for lunch.

Barangay Calumpang, Oslob dancers prepare to start their dance presentation in welcoming the Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests.

Cebuano saint

Paying homage to the faith of this young Cebuano, Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests visit the shrine of San Pedro Calungsod right next to the St. Gregory the Great church in Ginatilan town.

From Samboan, the guests traveled to Ginatilan for the San Pedro Calungsod shrine right next to the St. Gregory the Great parish church, then to Alegria for a tour of the Que Alegre Demo Farm, where they were introduced to organic farming and the wonders of turmeric and moringa, while other guests went canyoneering.

The Samboan church’s ceiling painting was done by artist Leonardo Ortiz in collaboration with the National Historical Commission of the Philippines, Fr. Bryan Brigoli, and the Municipal Government of Samboan.

From the farm, which her husband Dr. Gilbert Magallon managed, Mayor Verna Magallon brought the guests to the Alegria heritage park, where she treated them to entertainment showcasing local talents, dances, and songs, as well as demonstrations on pottery making, corn milling using a wooden mill, and coco coir making using coconut husk.

Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests partake of food served at the Que Alegre Demo Farm in Alegria, where they learned about organic farming.

Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests and local children alike got to see how pottery is making made during a demonstration at the Alegria heritage park.

The guests then went to Moalboal, site of the famous year-round sardine run, where a live band serenaded them during dinner at the heritage park by the sea. Vice Mayor Paz Lingling Rozgoni welcomed them with a message encouraging them to discover the many things Moalboal has to offer. The guests also got to dance the night away before a fireworks display culminated the second day of the three days, two nights tour.

The third and final day gave the guests the chance to stroll on the beach, explore the resorts where they stayed for the night, or to take a dip in the pool or the sea, before leaving Moalboal for Barili town, where they visited the Sta. Ana Archdiocesan Shrine parish church and its museum.

Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 guests get to practice their dance moves after dinner at the Moalboal town heritage park right by the protected Tañon Strait.

Chicharon and lechon

From Moalboal, the guests dropped by Carcar City for a taste of its delicious chicharon, ampao, and other products, as well as to buy their favorite locally made shoes and sandals before proceeding to Talisay City for final stopover of the tour.

Talisay’s sinulog dance contingent, which won first place in this year’s Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan, greeted the guests upon their arrival. Vice Mayor Allan Bucao, representing the city, gave the guests a short history about the city.

Talisay City’s award-winning Sinulog dancers greet the guests immediately upon their arrival at the Talisay City Hall.

Colorful performances during a sumptuous dinner with Talisay’s famous lechon in abundance, and a four-minute fireworks display capped off the tour, to which Vice Governor Agnes Magpale profusely thanked Talisay for the grand culmination program.

In a speech, she urged the guests to spread the news about Cebu.

Vice Governor Agnes Magpale arrives to a colorful welcome at the Talisay City Hall. She was thankful for the city government for the beautiful Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 culminating program.

“Please tell your relatives and friends…maanindot na kaayo ang Sugbu nga inyong gibiyaan (that the Cebu you have left behind is now very splendid),” she said.

She also thanked the participating towns and cities for the hospitality they have shown the guests and for trying to “outdo” each other in making the guests feel at home.

Cebuano hospitality

The guests, indeed, for their part, cited the warm hospitality as something they would not forget about the whole experience.
Heracleo Salgado, 76, and his wife Emerinciana, 72, gushed about the beaches and how they were always exceptionally welcomed.

A four-minute fireworks display caps off the successful Suroy-Suroy Sugbu 2018 Adventure Round South, at the Talisay City Hall.

Heracleo, originally from Madridejos, and Emerinciana, who was from Barili, left the country in 1976 and had come back only for the fourth time. It was their first time to join the Suroy-Suroy since becoming US citizens and living in San Francisco, California.

“Akong na-amaze-san gyud kay welcome ta tanan sa kada town ba…. Nindot kaayo ang hospitality ((What amazed me so much was we were made to feel welcome by each town…. Their hospitality was very nice),” Heracleo said.
“Yes, mao nay importante kaayo (that is the most important),” Emerinciana chimed in, promising to bring their daughter, who is in the US, with them the next time they join the Suroy-Suroy.

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DOT: Tourism Arrivals Reach All-Time High at 6.6M



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In 2017, 6,620,908 foreign tourists visited the Philippines marking the unprecedented growth of the country’s tourism industry. It grew about 11% from the previous year’s arrivals of 5,967,005.

“We would like to express our sincerest gratitude to all the tourism stakeholders who worked hand in hand with the Department of Tourism (DOT) in achieving another milestone for the country,” Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo said.

Philippine tourism even bested the average tourism growth of Asia and the Pacific which is at six percent and Southeast Asia at eight percent according to the latest United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) World Tourism Barometer.

The tourism milestone came after a series of political noise, security concerns, and travel advisories against the country last year.

“We overcame these challenges with the innate resiliency of the Filipinos and the cooperation of everybody. And for that we are very thankful,” Teo added.

Teo also thanked all stakeholders who made country’s hosting of the Miss Universe and the ASEAN Summit, Madrid Fusion Manila 2017, World Street Food Congress, and the UNWTO International Conference on Tourism Statistics a huge success.

Improved air routes and more cruise calls together with travel infrastructure development, travel facilitation, product development and tourism investments drummed up the tourism industry last year.

South Korea remained the country’s top source market with the lion’s share of 1,607,821 attributing for almost a quarter of the total tourist arrival. Boracay and Cebu remains the top destinations for Koreans last year.

China followed suit with 968,447 arrivals due to the improved ties between the Philippines and China, added air routes, and the Visa Upon Arrival (VUA) option for Chinese nationals.

It is the most improved market with 43.33% growth rate overtaking USA with 957,813 arrivals.

Japan and Australia wound up the top five markets with 584,180 and 259,433 arrivals respectively.

December registered 603,062 foreign tourist arrivals second best to the month of January 2017 at 620,121.

“The seven million that some people refer to was a fighting target that we have set for ourselves. Officially the target is at 6.5 million which is embodied in the National Tourism Development Plan (NTDP) and we have achieved it,” Benito Bengzon, Jr. DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Development explained.

For 2018, the NTDP projected 7.4 million international tourist arrivals.

“For this year, with an expanded marketing plan, improved quality, human resource capacity, and service standards, we will continue to push for new and underrated destinations. We are also looking at the farm and faith tourism sectors.” Teo said.

Another centerpiece of 2018 would be sports and adventure tourism with the hosting of Strongest Man, the Iron Man, and other sports-related events.

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