Rediscovering Guinluthangan

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It was intensely hot Tuesday morning, power was out and a frustrating slow mobile network service that I needed to put my smartphone atop our main door. While waiting for my fiancée’s text, Mama suddenly wondered what would be my plan for the day, sitting down at our bamboo sofa and joyfully playing candy crush on her old iPad. I took my phone and checked my bucket list only to realize that the most beautiful beach of the Philippines was still unchecked. And so I told her that I might be leaving the following day for Boracay. She gave me a look as if she was about to blurt at me with that are-you-serious? but behind it was a hidden statement “you can’t just leave now”. So, she helpfully and willfully suggested a long list of where to go just within the province. “Bakit di ka na lang pumunta sa Paraiso de Palani sa Balud, maganda doon para ka lang nasa Boracay,” recommending with a poker face. “Thanks Ma pero baka may alam kang magandang puntahan dito lang sa Milagros, ayaw ko na magbiyahe ng malayo,” I said trying to convince her. And she bluntly said “Guinluthangan, try mo!”

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With Ate Ruth Beluso and Brgy. Captain Nora Beluso.

The next thing I know, I found myself right in front of Beluso Residence in Masbate City waiting for Ma’am Nora and Ate Ruth to come out. I was to arrange my trip to their family owned island. Their empire! The first was no longer a stranger to me because I meet her countless times with my Lola Edith Rosero during their old days as public school teachers in Milagros East District. While the latter was, presumably, my first meeting or at some point our paths might have crossed already but was never given a chance of proper introduction or whatsoever. Ma’am Nora, as she was fondly called, is a retired principal and currently serving as an elected Brgy. Captain of Guinluthangan. Ate Ruth was very accommodating and won’t leave me until I haven’t devoured every single food that they have ordered from a well-known fast food restaurant. She told me that everyone in the island was informed and all were arranged already and so another adventure for me is totally underway. She promised me that this experience will definitely be worth remembering.

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The Guinluthangan Island

History:

“Guinluthangan” is a Hiligaynon word means “Pinagbarilan.” The island spans 42 hectares of coastlines with 205 households residing on it. The small piece of land was originally owned by Mrs. Emperatris Lim Zafra and Adriano Zafra. The couple then sold the island to Mr. Fermato Medina, former district supervisor of Milagros. About 40 years ago, Mr. Medina decided to sell the island to Mr. Amado Beluso of Roxas City. Before Mr. Amado died, he entrusted Remedios Beluso and Roberto Beluso to take care of the island.

Since then, the Belusos were never ever replaced as ruler for the barangay governance. “May pagkakataon po ba na may lumaban sa family nyo during the election? I asked politely. “So far wala naman, the people know that we own the island and we govern it accordingly,” Mrs. Beluso replied.

Fishing is the islanders’ main source of income, making Guinluthangan as the second biggest supplier of “dried Bolinao” (Dilis) in the municipality of Milagros. Some do business through their sari-sari stores and some prefers planting vegetables at their small backyard.

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Brgy. Calasuche Port

Adventurous Feet:

Annabelle Dadula together with Alex Cedillo willingly hopped in to this rather exciting island adventure to Guinluthangan, all agreed to depart for the island at 7AM. We had our breakfast at a small restaurant in Brgy. Calasuche. There, we rented an outrigger boat for only Php1,000.00 (a whole day trip) and had an eager boat owner Nonoy Mahusay to take us all the way to the island and on our way back to Calasuche. It took us two hours sea travel and was generally smooth and comfortable trip. We arrived at our destination at exactly 9:35AM. The crystal clear sea water along the coastline cannot be ignored as it was apparently noticeable. Such a beauty!!

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With Mrs. Erlinda Sinadjan, Mrs. Inang Beluso and Mr. Sinadjan

We went directly to Barangay Hall while we were still enjoying that tickling sensation of the stunning off-white sand of the island under our feet (kind of therapeutic). There we were greeted enthusiastically by a young girl and asked us with hesitation: “Kayo po ba ang bisita ni Kapitan Beluso?” With full excitement, I said, Yes, to our joyful greeter. She instructed us to follow her and brought us to the place where Mrs. Inang M. Beluso was waiting for us. Refreshments were served which we gleefully accepted as we were all thirsty because of the excruciating heat of the sun. We were introduced to some locals who would eventually be responsible of showing us around the island. Mr. Sinadjan, a father of my sister’s friend, came to join us too.  Later, Mrs. Erlinda B. Sinadjan came too and asked us where we want to go, “we want to wander around the island,” I replied.

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With Annabelle Dadula

“Our life here is very simple. Everyone is doing their part to make this place very clean. Early in the morning people would start cleaning the backyard, kids after school would help their parents to fix “lambat” used for fishing. Gambling is definitely a big NO NO in the island. As there was no permanent and stable power supply, houses will light up generally from 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM. The garbage dumping site would be strategically located in the middle of the island. Potable water is a bit of an issue but the whole community would have their common place to get water from for daily household usage and they would have to be scheduled in fetching from deep water wheel.” Mrs. Sinadjan enthusiastically explained, as we walk on our way towards IslaBel Resort forgetting the heat of the sun.DSC_0260.JPGG20DSC_0256.JPGDSC_0265.JPGDSC_0266.JPGG7G15

Annabelle by then would exclaim: “sosyal kayo dito halos lahat naka cable” she was referring to a prepaid cable network service provider supplied using satellite dishes. At that point, we were already at “IslaBel Beach Resort” and started picking up gorgeous sea shells. We were served with a sumptuous lunch Adobong Baboy, Tinolang Manok, Sweet (sugar coated deep fried) Dilis, steamed crabs and a bountiful fresh sea foods I can’t singularly name, of course all locally produced, all were cooked with a heart by Mrs. Emily Halang.G36G37

Around 1:00 PM, we started pacing to our next destination, Puroks 3-7. As we walk, local people gave us a curious look but they would still offer their friendly and genuine smiles. Even kids on their way to school would surprise us with courtesy and politeness, as we were all bade with: “Good afternoon Sir, Good Afternoon Ma’am.” We stopped at a small sari-sari store to have some kind of a ‘soda pit stop.’ The store owner won’t accept payment initially but we insisted otherwise we will not take them, we jokingly told her. In return instead, she offered to give us free dried fish, which I don’t think she should be obliged of doing so but I would assume, it was more of a gesture of being hospitable, a trait which is very organic to us Filipinos. In that short period stay in the island, we were treated with such tenderness and importance. The local people were amazingly generous and honestly kind. Evidently, they were amazingly happy and truthfully contented with their island lifestyle. The smiles were simply organic. G31G4G17G6G30.jpg

 

By 2:00 PM, we literally wandered every possible place we have to go, so I guess it was high time to hit that inviting crystal clear turquoise waters. Swimming time!! The water was gorgeous! A stunner! Indeed, an awesome conclusion of our short but exciting island excursion. And of course, actions like these would never be complete without all our poses not properly documented. And there we go with our unli-selfies with our smart phones.G38G44G42

Such a bang, indeed! We were oblivion of the time and realized that it was time to go home. It was 4:00 PM said my watch. With a heavy heart, we need to go and should be back at Calasuche port before nightfall otherwise it would a bit unsafe for us to travel back if it would be dark.

We left with a heavy heart but definitely with a big indelible smile painted on our faces. What an awesome simple experience to cherish. We will never forget this very idyllic place with very warm hearted inhabitants. We will always look forward to live with a community away from a hedonistic lifestyle. We, therefore, claim that Guinluthangan is an island paradise!G9DSC_0269.JPGG18G23G29G21

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And hey now, I truly confer that “Mother knows best”! Like seriously!

 

Bags already packed with your beach outfit and give IslaBel Resort, Guinluthangan Island, Milagros a try??

 

Please contact Ms. Ruth Beluso through her personal Facebook account

or PM me for her contact number. Thank you for reading and would be happy to hear your share of story about the island!

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Milagros In My Mind Photo Contest 2013 Winners

TMA (Taga Milagros Ako) once again launched another contest to its members. This aims to promote the town of Milagros. The contest was participated in by nineteen proud Milagrenos. Winners were declared on January 16, 2014 based on the following criteria: 50% from the liking contest that runs from Dec. 21, 2013 to January 15, 2014 and 50% from the panel of judges. The following are the list of winners:
sTHE FARMERS By : Christopher Bulandra "Smiles, hardships and passion to make an honest living, they are our heroes". Jamorawon, Milagros  July 7, 2013 Panel of Judges - 45% Likes - 43% Ave = 88% Prize - P5,000.00
THE FARMERS
By : Christopher Bulandra
“Smiles, hardships and passion to make an honest living, they are our heroes”.
Jamorawon, Milagros
July 7, 2013
Panel of Judges – 45%
Likes – 43%
Ave = 88%
Prize – P5,000.00

 

 

 

CARMELADO By: Kriz D. Hassan "Famous pastillas de leche made from carabao's milk and sugar".  Tawad, Milagros  Dec.2, 2013  Panel of Judges - 41% Likes - 42% Ave = 83% Prize - P3,000.00

BAYBAY By: Rhoel S. Madronio "An paglantaw sa pagtunod san adlaw sa baybay,nagahatag san kalipay sa mga nagapahuway." Pob. West, Milagros  Oct. 11, 2013  Panel of Judges - 40% Likes - 43% Ave = 83% Prize - P3,000.00

BAYBAY
By: Rhoel S. Madronio
“An paglantaw sa pagtunod san adlaw sa baybay,nagahatag san kalipay sa mga nagapahuway.”
Pob. West, Milagros
Oct. 11, 2013
Panel of Judges – 40%
Likes – 43%
Ave = 83%
Prize – P3,000.00
MANULIB RIVER  By: Kenneth James Valenzuela  "A place for Nature Lover, Summer Picnic, Saturday Labaday and River Fishing". Tawad, Milagros  May 4, 2013 Panel of Judges - 39% Likes - 43% Ave = 82% Prize - P1,000.00
MANULIB RIVER
By: Kenneth James Valenzuela
“A place for Nature Lover, Summer Picnic, Saturday Labaday and River Fishing”.
Tawad, Milagros
May 4, 2013
Panel of Judges – 39%
Likes – 43%
Ave = 82%
Prize – P1,000.00
AN LAWOD By: Queenie Gono Mortel "Pagsirak san adlaw panibag-o na naman na hamon san buhay an aatubangon naton, dapat silensyo kag masadya parehas sani na lawod...kun minsan mabalod pero kaipuhan maging matibay kita kay an buhay puno san pag-asa." Pob West Market Site, Milagros  Dec. 9, 2013  Panel of Judges - 37% Likes - 45% Ave = 82% Prize - P1,000.00
AN LAWOD
By: Queenie Gono Mortel
“Pagsirak san adlaw panibag-o na naman na hamon san buhay an aatubangon naton, dapat silensyo kag masadya parehas sani na lawod…kun minsan mabalod pero kaipuhan maging matibay kita kay an buhay puno san pag-asa.”
Pob West Market Site, Milagros
Dec. 9, 2013
Panel of Judges – 37%
Likes – 45%
Ave = 82%
Prize – P1,000.00
KATRE By: Jessire P. Buenavista "Making exquisite indoor and outdoor furniture made from bamboo and rattan, is our family source of income". Baclay Bacolod, Milagros  Nov. 1, 2013  Panel of Judges - 35% Likes - 46% Ave = 81% Prize - P500.00
KATRE
By: Jessire P. Buenavista
“Making exquisite indoor and outdoor furniture made from bamboo and rattan, is our family source of income”.
Baclay Bacolod, Milagros
Nov. 1, 2013
Panel of Judges – 35%
Likes – 46%
Ave = 81%
Prize – P500.00
ALMA MATER By: Neil V. Dalanon "This is the inner grounds of Masbate School of Fisheries just before the sunset. Fisheries, as the school is fondly called, had been a second home to thousands of Milagronians from all walks of life. This humble school was able to develop skilled workers and professionals whom you can find in different parts of the world today". Cayabon, Milagros Dec. 24, 2012 Panel of Judges - 39% Likes - 42% Ave = 81% Prize - P500.00
ALMA MATER
By: Neil V. Dalanon
“This is the inner grounds of Masbate School of Fisheries just before the sunset. Fisheries, as the school is fondly called, had been a second home to thousands of Milagronians from all walks of life. This humble school was able to develop skilled workers and professionals whom you can find in different parts of the world today”.
Cayabon, Milagros
Dec. 24, 2012
Panel of Judges – 39%
Likes – 42%
Ave = 81%
Prize – P500.00
SUNSET" By: Melrose Rebaya An paglubog san adlaw hali sa pinakasikat na kariguan san Milagros.  Bato, Milagros  January 1, 2013 Panel of Judges - 35% Likes - 44% Ave = 79% Prize - P500.00
SUNSET”
By: Melrose Rebaya
An paglubog san adlaw hali sa pinakasikat na kariguan san Milagros.
Bato, Milagros
January 1, 2013
Panel of Judges – 35%
Likes – 44%
Ave = 79%
Prize – P500.00
PUNONG By: Clyde Dorongon "An matawhay na punong kag kalangitan". Bara, Milagros  April 28, 2013 Panel of Judges - 36% Likes - 43% Ave = 79% Prize - P500.00
PUNONG
By: Clyde Dorongon
“An matawhay na punong kag kalangitan”.
Bara, Milagros
April 28, 2013
Panel of Judges – 36%
Likes – 43%
Ave = 79%
Prize – P500.00
PUSIT By: Rosarie D. Occenola "Sariwa't masarap na, masustansya pa!" Bato, Milagros  Dec. 13, 2013 Panel of Judges - 36% Likes - 42% Ave = 78% Prize - P500.00
PUSIT
By: Rosarie D. Occenola
“Sariwa’t masarap na, masustansya pa!”
Bato, Milagros
Dec. 13, 2013
Panel of Judges – 36%
Likes – 42%
Ave = 78%
Prize – P500.00
FAZENDA DE ESPERANCA By: Maleen D. Madrilejos "A place that offers healing to one's addictive state. No pill needed to take, instead its beautiful sceneries and strengthening one's faith with the Lord is its greatest rehabilitative instrument to get your wrecked inner core back into peace". Bangad, Milagros  Nov. 6, 2013 Panel of Judges - 36% Likes - 42% Ave = 78% Prize - P500.00
FAZENDA DE ESPERANCA
By: Maleen D. Madrilejos
“A place that offers healing to one’s addictive state. No pill needed to take, instead its beautiful sceneries and strengthening one’s faith with the Lord is its greatest rehabilitative instrument to get your wrecked inner core back into peace”.
Bangad, Milagros
Nov. 6, 2013
Panel of Judges – 36%
Likes – 42%
Ave = 78%
Prize – P500.00
TUNOD By: Karen P. Dalanon "An urhi na sudip san adlaw kay mabulos na an gab-i". Capaculan, Milagros  October 26, 2013 Panel of Judges - 36% Likes - 42% Ave = 78% Prize - P500.00
TUNOD
By: Karen P. Dalanon
“An urhi na sudip san adlaw kay mabulos na an gab-i”.
Capaculan, Milagros
October 26, 2013
Panel of Judges – 36%
Likes – 42%
Ave = 78%
Prize – P500.00
THE MYSTERIOUS TREE By: Esra Marie Sia  "Irug sani mag-hold on an mga Milagronians. Maski ginabaha san problema, todo kapit lang gihapon sa buhay". Tawad, Milagros August 20, 2012 Winner of Best Photo Caption  Prize - P2,000.00
THE MYSTERIOUS TREE
By: Esra Marie Sia
“Irug sani mag-hold on an mga Milagronians. Maski ginabaha san problema, todo kapit lang gihapon sa buhay”.
Tawad, Milagros
August 20, 2012
Winner of Best Photo Caption
Prize – P2,000.00

IPM Dubai-UAE 2013 Wedding Table Championship Winners

IPM

One of the highlights during the 8th edition of IPM Dubai 2013 (International Plants Expo Middle East) held last November 17-19, 2013 at The World Trade Center Dubai was the IPM 2013 Wedding Table Championship. With 20 entries from different parts of the world, two Filipinos  who are currently working as head florist in one of the top floriculture industries in UAE were among the top winners.

IPM Dubai 2013  aims to promote the latest innovations, products and practices from the horticultural industries around the globe.

Renato Villanueva, Head Florist of Shirin Flowers FZCO, won the First Prize #IPMDubai-UAE2013
Renato Villanueva, Head Florist of Shirin Flowers FZCO, won the First Prize for Wedding Table Championship #IPMDubai-UAE2013
Leomar A. Inocente, Head Florist of Oleander Trading Dubai, holds his certificate as 2nd prize of Wedding Table Championship #
Leomar A. Inocente, Head Florist of Oleander Trading Dubai, holds his certificate as 2nd prize for Wedding Table Championship  #IPMDubai-UAE2013
Entry from Patrick van Hesselingen (Germany) Head Florist of CONTEMPO (DIFC) LLC won 3rd Prize for Wedding Table Championship #
Entry from Mr. Patrick van Hesselingen of Netherlands/Holland, a Dutch Master Floral Designer  and Manager of Premier Clients Group. Flowers: CONTEMPO (DIFC) LLC , 3rd Prize winner for Wedding Table Championship #IPMDubai-UAE2013

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Entry from Ganesk Madiyan Veedu won as Visitor's Favourite #IPMDubai-UAE2013
Entry from Ganesk Madiyan Veedu won as Visitor’s Favourite #IPMDubai-UAE2013

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The world’s Largest Chocolate Truffle Mosaic

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         Another Emiratis achievement this year that UAE should be proud of as they broke the record for the largest chocolate truffle mosaic. 

The Guinness World Record awarded the official certificate to Za’ abeel Palace Hospitality of Dubai for  a record breaking.  The said 404 square meters truffle chocolate mosaic has an EXPO 2020 logo in the middle covered with 360,000 pieces white chocolates.

The formation of this giant chocolates mosaic was completed by 85 students.

Emirati businesswoman Sara Rashed Al Sanqiti, who runs ‘Minilicious’ in Dubai conceived this idea in line with the inaugural  of Dubai World Hospitality Championship (DWHC) with the theme: “Continuing the Legacy of Emirati Hospitality”.

Shaikha Al Mutawa from the local championship committee of Dubai World Hospitality Championship, said: “Dubai has raised the bar and set uncompromising standards for itself and its people. DWHC is a testimony to the fact that with hard work and boundless talent it is still possible to revive the half-forgotten magic of timeless culinary traditions, and present them in a manner that is interesting to today’s generation. We are thrilled to be a part of this historic cookery championship, and these records are our way of expressing our gratitude and appreciation to the UAE.”

DWHC is an event to showcase  the skills in culinary from different countries. Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, UAE, USA, and Wales were among the countries who joined the competition held last Nov. 16-18, 2013 at The World Trade Center Dubai, UAE.

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What I am reading today

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(Photos during my vacation in Irosin, Sorsogon)

ALMASOR FAMILIARIZATION TOUR
Bacon-Bulusan-Matnog (Sorsogon)

From SirChief TourGuide Joey Salceda timeline.

INTRODUCTION:

Albay-Masbate-Sorsogon (ALMASOR) Tourism Alliance is one of the three (3) Area Development Plans being formulated in line with the RDC’s priority areas of concern, specifically in Promoting Tourism. It is focused on the NTDP’s identified Tourism Development Areas (TDAs) under the Bicol cluster where in its conceptualization process, there is a need to validate potential, emerging and existing attractions/destinations, facilities and activities. Hence the conduct of the familiarization cum validation tour by the TWG in the municipalities of Bulusan and Matnog of Sorsogon province for purposes of assessing the current status and possible recommendations on how to develop the potential sites, enhancement of the already existing ones, and creation of tourism activities that will stimulate the flow of visitors in the area. In addition, tourism road projects leading to and from said destinations were inspected for possible inclusion and funding under the DOT-DPWH Convergence Program.

The Department of Tourism (DOT) as the lead agency of the Technical Committee on Promoting Tourism organized the said Familiarization cum Validation Tour participated by the members of the Technical Working Group (TWG) from NEDA, DPWH, DENR, DOST, PPA and PPDOs/CPDOs of Albay and Sorsogon. Media partners from print, TV and broadcast were likewise invited to seek their support in terms of information dissemination thru write-ups and press releases, thus first-hand exposure and information provided them better insights and concrete understanding of the validation trip, particularly on the attractions/sites visited, roads inspected as well as the activities experienced.

Conducted on April 29-30, 2013, the validation team was comprised of 29 TWG members and 16 press practitioners. With Legazpi (APSEMO) as the base, the group took off at 7:30 a.m. and covered the following areas:

Day 1: Sorsogon Provincial Capitol – Sirangan Beach Resort (Bacon, Sorsogon) – Bulusan Church – Fortress (Baluarte de Piedra), Dancalan Beach – Masacrot Spring – Fulo Spring Resort – Crystal Spring Resort – Balay Buhay sa Uma – Bulusan Lake/Volcano National Park. (Bulusan, Sorsogon)

Tourism road project inspection of Sorsogon – Bacon-Manito-Legazpi Road and Bulusan-Sta. Magdalena – Matnog road

Day 2 – Matnog Aqua Adventures: Fish feeding/interaction at Juag Lagoon – Mariculture Park – Subic Beach “pink sand” – passing local community of Calintaan Island – Tikling Island.

Inspected the end point of Bulusan-Sta-Magdalena-Matnog road

HIGHLIGHTS

• The activity was facilitated by Mr. Danilo B. Intong, ALMASOR consultant who briefed the team of the purpose of said undertaking as well as the places to be visited as indicated in the itinerary . Mr. Intong gave a backgrounder and the tourism significance of each sites/ attractions visited.

• First leg of the trip was a courtesy call to Sorsogon Governor Raul Lee at the Provincial Capitol who in his absence was represented by the Provincial Planning and Development Officer – Mr. Dominador Jardin. The latter was assisted by its Tourism Officer – Ms. Cris Racelis who gave a brief presentation of the proposed road projects: Sorsogon East Coast (Bacon-Manito-Legazpi) and Sorsogon West Coast (Bulusan-Sta. Magdaleno-Matnog) road project. These 2 projects were already evaluated by the DOT-DPWH Regional TWG based on the TRIPPC and forwarded the same to the Central TWG for their final evaluation and approval. Mr. Jardin was reminded on the submission of the Right of Way (ROW) certification which is a lacking requirement for its east coast road project.

• Ocular inspection of the Sorsogon-Bacon-Manito-Legazpi road project followed and passed by Sirangan Beach Resort (Bacon, Sorsogon City) for a quick inspection. The resort which is classified as “AA” has 12 king sized rooms distinctively crafted from natural materials and is complete with restaurant, function hall and other amenities. After inspection, the team returned to the Provincial Capitol for lunch hosted by Gov. Lee.

• From Sorsogon City, the group then proceeded to Bulusan via Gubat and had a rolling tour of the historic town of Barcelona passing the St. Joseph Church, the ruined watchtower and an old building called “La Presidencia” which served as the office of the “Governadocillo” during the Spanish regime. Upon arriving Bulusan, first stop was at Dancalan Beach Resort where the team was met and welcomed by Mr. Philip Bartilet, the newly installed Tourism Officer of Bulusan and at the same time the President of AGAP Bulusan which is now managing the Bulusan Lake and its activities. The following were inspected in the area:

DANCALAN BEACH – located at Brgy. Dancalan, Bulusan, Sorsogon. It has shallow waters and is ideal for snorkeling, camping and swimming. Managed by LGU Bulusan, the resort has picnic cottages available for rent and a very mimimal entrance fee of Php 15.00 is collected for those who wish to enjoy and relax in this beach.

BULUSAN CHURCH – located in Punta Diamante, the triangular stone fortress (Baluarte de Piedra) that encloses the parish church and rectory. Its bell tower is said to have been existed in 1631, after the town was separated as an independent parish from Casiguran in 1630. This church is considered as one of the oldest in the province of Sorsogon and had already undergone major renovations. Today the walls are almost still intact. There were a total of four baluartes de piedra, the biggest of which now serves as the church belfry.

MASACROT SPRING – located at San Roque, Bulusan Sorsogon. It has a hand carved swimming pool with clean, fresh and free flowing sulphuric waters. Visitors and picnickers can have a refreshing dip in its cool waters and rejuvenate the natural way by swimming with its sulphuric waters. Entrance Fee: Php 40.00 (adults/Php 30.00 (children)
FULO SPRING RESORT. Located just across Masacrot Spring. It is surrounded by verdant trees with pristine air, clean, cool and free flowing waters in its 2 swimming ppols For visitors who wish to stay overnight, there are 8 units cottages and also open sheds for excursionists. Entrance Fee: Php 35.00

BALAY BUHAY SA UMA – Nestled at the foot of the forested Bulusan Volcano Natural Park, This place known as home of life is ideal for spiritual retreats and recollection and also perfect for educational tours and family outings. Visitors will enjoy the walk through a thoroughfare of various plants and herbs, hedges of flowers and fruit trees escorted by bees and butterflies. It offers fishing activity, seminar venue and lodging needs and serves indigenous and native dishes all found within the farm.

CRYSTAL SPRING – A family-oriented resort set against a backdrop of lush greeneries and rainforest trees. The swimming pools are continuously fed with clean mineral-laden water from natural springs. A rest house is also available for families or groups who wish to spend the night.
BULUSAN VOLCANO NATURAL PARK (BVNP). Situated at the municipality of Bulusan in the province of Sorsogon covering an area of 3,673 hectares which straddles 5 municipalities namely: Bulusan, Irosin, Juban, Casiguran and Barcelona It is an imposing landmark in Sorsogon, towering at an altitude of 1,565 meters above sea level, making this protected area as one of the mountaineering destinations in the Philippines. Bulusan is dubbed as Switzerland of the Orient because of its lush tropical forest, it also pride itself with several gifts of nature, like cold and hot springs, tranquil lakes, rivers, waterfalls, beaches and other natural treasures. BVNP’s special features include Bulusan Volcano, Bulusan Lake, two other mountain formations known as Shark Peak and Hormahan and Lake Aguingay. It is likewise a habitat of numerous endemic species of plants such as the Forestia philippinensis, Pinanga insignis, Areca camarinensis, Mussaenda phillipica and two newly discovered species, Schefflina bulusanicum and Pronephrium bulusanicum. Other rare and threatened species are also found in the area. As sanctuary of fauna, it feature Golden-crowned flying fox (Acerodon jubatos), the Southern Luzon giant cloud rat (Phloeomys cumingii), the Philippine warty pig (Sus philippensis) and the Luzon Tarictic hornbill (Penelopides manillae).

BULUSAN LAKE. One of the main features of the BVNP found at the foot of the Bulusan Volcano which is surrounded by lush green forest and encircled by a concrete pathway. It is managed by AGAP-Bulusan, Inc. (Aggrupation of Advocates for Environmental Protection) an NGO whose mission is to protect and preserve the environment while at the same time fostering social and economic upliftment thru massive and intensive environmental education and info. campaign, promotion and support of sustainable eco-enterprises.

Located 2 kilometers from the hi-way, the lake is now getting attention from foreign and local tourists in view of the activities it offers such kayaking, canoeing, water triking, camping, trekking and mountain climbing. More activities are currently developed such as horse-back riding, wall climbing and Auto-TerrainVehicle (ATV) which are soon to open. Minimal fee of Php 20.00 for adults and Php 15.00 for elderly and children are collected as entrance fee.

STAKEHOLDERS’ CONSULTATION

• Before dinner was served, Consultation/Meeting was conducted with the Bulusan tourism stakeholders held at Balay Buhay sa Uma. Presided by Mr. Danilo Intong, first, he announced that Bulusan will play host to the 1st Volcano Sky Run, an international event to be held simultaneous with the 3rd Bulusan Trail Running Cup on June 12, 2013. He said that the success of the previous year’s Bulusan Eco-Trail Run prompted the LGU to hold the same with the hope that this will be another milestone for the municipality. Mr. Intong then gave a brief backgrounder about the ALMASOR and its overall goal which is to achieve the 500,000 foreign tourist arrivals by 2016 that will redound to job creation, income opportunities, revenue generation and eventually uplift economic condition of the people.

• Mr. Intong cited that one of the major components of the ALMASOR is the CONNECTIVITY which aimed to link the tourism sites and potentials in adjacent areas through the development of an intermodal transport infrastructures i.e. airports, sea ports, railway and road networks. Thus, convergence was forged between and among the national government agencies, specifically the CAAP, PPA, PNR and DPWH to implement projects that will support the tourism industry in terms of establishment of tourism infrastructures and providing basic access from the gateway to the service center, cluster of tourism sites as well as activity. He added that the NGAs collaborative efforts are geared towards a fast, friendly, efficient and cost effective transport system that will result to a quality touristic experience. He added that the DOT and DPWH convergence program will likewise pave the way to fund development, improvement and rehabilitation of roads leading to tourist attractions and or destinations subject to TRIPPC evaluation and submission of necessary documents.

• He then asked the stakeholders to give feedbacks on the status of the tourism industry in their area as well as the comments and recommendations of the media and TWG members as regards to the evaluation/assessment conducted. The following issues were raised:

While Bulusan is endowed with rich tourism sites and potentials, however there is an absence of regular trips leading to the sites. Hence walk-in tourists who travel via PUB will find the tour expensive as they will be prompted to take special trip just to be able to visit their desired attractions and or destination.
Bulusan can attract international visitors in view of its lush and pristine beauty as well as its enormous tourism potentials ;
Aside from the lack of capital investment to improve the existing facilities, most stakeholders are burdened with the high rate of taxes payed to BIR considering the seasonality of guests and excursionists in their resorts;
To encourage tourism investments, the LGU should consider income tax holiday
Aside from the lack of directional signages, the existing ones were noted to be not very visible and not strategically located that travelers find it difficult to locate their desired place/s to be visited;

• Mr. Intong informed the body on the significance of DOT accreditation especially on primary tourism enterprises which include accommodation establishments (hotels, resorts, inns, homestays, etc.), tourist transport and operators, tour guides, mountain guides, recreational facilties, etc. He said that with the R.A. 9593, otherwise known as Tourism of 2009, accreditation is now mandatory. He said that being accredited with the DOT means that the establishment has complied on the minimum standard requirement on the operations of the concerned establishment. Thus, he encouraged the tourism stakeholders to apply for accreditation with DOT.

• Ms. Fe Buela of DOT expressed appreciation to the stakeholders for their warm welcome and reception and for tendering meals (snacks and dinner) for their group. She likewise congratulated LGU-Bulusan for the developments and improvements happening in the municipality as manifested by the opening of new resorts and other tourism-related establishments and the enhancement of the already existing ones. She likewise congratulated Mr. Philip Bartilet, President of AGAP Bulusan for his aggressive efforts and abled leadership in managing the Bulusan Lake and introducing new tourism activities such as kayaking, canoeing, water triking, among others and for initiating national and international events such as the Bulusan Eco-trail Run, and the forthcoming events.

• Ms. Buela added, that based on the evaluation and validation conducted, most of the resorts in the area will fall under Special Interest Resort. She then advised that more improvements and upgrading is needed to qualify it to a higher resort classification.

DAY 2 – VALIDATION OF MATNOG & THE AQUA ADVENTURE PACKAGE
• From Bulusan, the team headed to Matnog of which the activity commenced with a brief stop-over at Mayor Emilio Ubaldo’s Headquarter wherein breakfast was served. Matnog is a town located at the southern part of the Bicol Region and the jump-off point to the Visayas area. It has a busy port as several ferry companies operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, specifically the Matnog-Allen and Matnog-San Isidro ferry route. Matnog is also beginning to gain popularity in the tourism industry and now drawing influx of domestic and foreign tourists because of its beautiful islands. The LGU in partnership with DOT and Bantay Kalikasan developed a tourism product/package dubbed as Matnog Aqua Adventure.
• The aqua adventure comprising island hopping activity took about 4 to 5 hrs, cruising the clear and calm water where the group first dropped at Juag Lagoon Fish Sanctuary. A family, housed in a native shanty made of bamboo stilts amidst the lagoon look after their fish pen and welcome visitors who would like to see their teeming collection of marine life. The group were provided with pellets and indulged in feeding schools of colorful and varied sizes of different fish species. Visit in this site accorded the team a unique and exciting fish feeding experience.

• Next destination was the Mariculture Park at Calintaan Island which was developed by the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR). The park showcases a commercial fish farm and offers favorable investment climate for fin fishes sea cage culture ventures. Managed by Councilor Christopher Hadap, Chairman Committee on Agriculture, he said that BFAR provides a grant of 155,000 for fisher folks which include the floating cages, fingerlings and feeds. These live fishes from the grouper sea cage project drew curious tourists in the area, hence the LGU finds the fusing of fisheries and aquatic resources as well as tourism to be an effective strategy to promote agri-ecotourism in the area that will pave the way for fisher folks to increase income from the BFAR project while at the same time benefitting from the tourism activity.

• The team then sojourned to Subic Beach passing by San Bernardino Strait which serves as the boundary of Bicol and Samar and where international vessels are sometimes sighted crossing the Pacific Ocean. Off the coast are dive sites of Matnog where magnificent corals reefs abound and also ideal for snorkeling and drift diving. The boat trip likewise passed by an old Spanish light house and underwater caves known to be inhabited by giant bats.

• The team finally reached Subic Beach known as La Playa Rosa or pink beach also located within Calintaan Island. Its pinkish sand was in effect of the crushed red corals washed out from the sea. The place has a stunning scenery and pristine beach with crystal clear waters that is very enticing for beach lovers. Open cottages are available for rent or tent can be pitched for camping or overnight stay.

• The last stop was Tikling Island which lies along the San Bernardino Strait, some 4 km offshore from the town proper of Matnog. It boasts of a fine white sand beach, however, swimming is only advisable for skilled swimmers because of the sudden drop in depth by the shore. The site is likewise ideal for camping

• After the island hopping activity, the team returned to Mayor Ubaldo’s Headquarter for the wash up and hosted merienda and went back straight to Legazpi.

Prepared by: Noted:

FE R. BUELA DANILO B. INTONG
DOT-V ALMASOR Consultant
ATTENDANCE

PARTICIPANTS NAME AGENCY/AFFILIATION
1. Fe R. Buela DOT-V
2. Milo S. Oropesa DOT-V
3. Danilo B. Intong ALMASOR Consultant
4. Ester B. Barria NEDA
5. Engr. Rosie Cantara DPWH-5
6. Engr. Ester M. Vargas DPWH-5
7. Annalyn F. Jacob DPWH-1st DEO
8. Faye B. bajamundi DOST
9. Ivy Grace L. Manila PPA
10. Ma. Ruth Mae Remonte PPA
11. Annabelle M. Barquilla DENR
12. Oscar Estillonio DENR
13. Millie C. Bueta PPDO-Albay
14. Francisco Sallena PPDO-Albay
15. Dominador Jardin PPDO-Sorsogon
16. Cristina Racelis Prov’l Tourism-Sorsogon
17. Rizza Daymo PPDO-Sorsogon
18. Engr.Funicillo Agnes Agnes PPDO-Sorsogon
19. Engr. Argeme. Gregorio PPDO-Sorsogon
20. Reynes C. Belgica PPDO Sorsogon
21. Joni Aspasia Jao PPDO-Sorsogon
22. Fe B. barrios CPDO-Tabaco City
23. Priscilla Galicia CPDO-Legazpi City
24. Reissa L. Gamos CPDO-Sorsogon City
25. Erwin D. Escanilla CPDO-Sorsogon City
26. Philip bartilet LGU-Bulusan/AGAP Bulusan
27. Elaine Antolin Artistshop, manila
28. Rose Olarte-Orbita DZMM
29. Rochelle Basanta Radyo ng Bayan
30. Don Gloriane GMA Network
31. Meljessa Balino Bicolandia Times
32. La Xavier Lauraya Bicolandia Times
33. Jonas C. Soltes Philippine Daily Inquirer
34. Jose Caritero ABS-CBN
35. Connie Destura APSEMO V
36. Aireen Jaymalin ABS-CBN
37. Jameson Salalima ABS-CBN

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