Tag Archives: eco-tourism

Mindanao’s new lands of promise

Bernard L. Supetran
Philippine Daily Inquirer
June 24, 2012

For decades, Mindanao, the country’s biggest island group, has been given this moniker because of its vast fertile land, scintillating sights and diverse natural wonders.

This calling still holds true today with its continuing march to economic progress, especially with the proclamation of five new component cities.

These new urban centers—Bayugan (Agusan del Sur), Cabadbaran (Agusan del Norte), Tandag (Surigao del Sur), Mati (Davao Oriental) and Lamitan (Basilan) are expected to further spur development and continue fulfilling the promise that is Mindanao.

After a rough sailing that saw their cityhood nullified and restored twice since 2007, these are full-pledged cities after their status have been finally affirmed by the Supreme Court.


The crossroad city of Bayugan is the commercial center of northern Agusan del Sur, and the confluence of five neighboring towns. Its strategic location between Butuan and Davao cities further adds economic value to its status as a vital go-between.

It boasts of 5,000 hectares of rice fields, the biggest in the Caraga Region, 700 hectares of palm oil plantation 1,000 has rubber plantation, and 1,000 hectares of corn and falcata tree farms making it an agricultural powerhouse.

Due to its role as trading center, regional retail giants such as Gaisano and NCCC, commercial banks, and property developers are poised to enter the city.

With an P482.9 million internal revenue allocation (IRA) this year, Bayugan will further strengthen its agro-industrial sector, and develop of the culture of entrepreneurship, one of Bayugeños strongest traits.

Tourism-wise, the city has identified potential attractions, most of them waterfalls located in the city’s mountainous areas which are largely untapped by human hands and are authentic adventure destinations.

The city recently launched the Bayug Festival to embody its history and aspirations, which the local government hopes to be a major tourist drawer in the near future.


The capital of Surigao del Sur, Tandag boasts of a checkered history being once the seat of government of the unified Spanish-era Surigao province.

“In our Annual Investment Plan for 2012, we aim to make the city a cottage industry capital and a leading eco-tourism destination in the Caraga region.” says Tandag Mayor Alexander Pimentel.

With a P279-million IRA this year, the city has prioritized funding for barangay development by earmarking P1 million annually for projects, and general social services such as Philhealth coverage and birthing for the poor, potable water, and financial assistance to indigents and elderly.

While still primarily agricultural, the city is Surigao del Sur’s commercial hub and service area for the province’s emerging tourism industry.  Thrice weekly flights from Cebu via Mid-Sea Express have made the city more accessible and have brought back life to the once dormant airport.

Pimentel says that as a result of its cityhood, Tandag is investing in education as it increased the number of college scholars from 70 to 500 students who receive P3,000 financial assistance per semester. It has also hiked from 100 to 500 the number of students enlisted for summer jobs.

To harness its human resources, barangay health workers and tanod (watchmen) receive additional honorarium from the city government. The city also conducts training in coordination with Tesda skills for all sorts of which has provided overseas employment.

To lure potential investors, the City has crafted an Investment Code which accords investors pouring in P5 million and above a five-year tax holiday.

On the tourism front, Twin Linungao Island, the city’s iconic rock formation, will be developed into an ecopark, complemented by the construction of the Baywalk Boulevard.

Also in the pipeline is the relocation of some 1,200 informal settler families in a 16-hectare self-contained community.

Cabadbaran City

A vital highway town in northern Mindanao, Cabadbaran’s dream of becoming a city got a boost when it was declared the provincial capital of Agusan del Norte in 2000 after Butuan achieved a highly urbanized city status.

Mayor Dale Corvera says that the mixture of agro-industry, gold and copper mining, educational and commercial activities, and major investments bode well for this flourishing urban center.

Discovering the potential of abaca farming, Cabadbaran has put in P5 million for abaca production, and has made it its One Town, One Product (OTOP) showpiece. Despite not being endemic to the area, the city has effectively multiplied its abaca twining from 20 to 356 hectares.

He reveals that Filinvest Development Corp. is putting up a 20-megawatt hybrid power plant which utilizes diesel and rice hull, which will dramatically bring down the energy cost to P6/kwh.

This new investment, he says, will bring in realty taxes, direct and indirect employment, as well as micro-businesses to the locals.

Corvera says that cityhood has enabled Cabadbaran to extend P 2,000 cash incentives and daily vitamins to senior citizens, funeral services, and Philhealth coverage for 6,000 indigent households.

Believing in the value of education, the city supports 70 public elementary and high school teachers, and operates a local high school, which has produced 100 graduates so far.

He adds that the city is strengthening its capability to raise revenues through efficient management of its local economic enterprises such as the public market, transport terminal and a triple A slaughterhouse as rated by the National Meat Inspection Service.

As a testament to good governance, Cabadbaran has received the DILG Seal of Good Housekeeping in 2011, and the Bureau of Local Government Finance Achiever’s Award in recognition of its accomplishment in revenue generation resulting in collection efficiency from 2008 to 2011 among the LGUs in the region.

It is also among the LGU recipients compliant to the criteria of good governance of the National Anti-Poverty Commission.

It is also home to the country’s most successful artificial fish sanctuary which restored 76 species of marine life, according to Mindanao State University.

Another tales of the Manobo

BusinessWeek Mindanao
April 23, 2011

Exactly four weeks ago the whole Caraga region came to a standstill with surprise episode of a short lived hostage taking. News of the incident caught the attention of the national leadership that is sensitive to a hostage situation that it tries to avoid and handle like a plaque or virus. This time it involved a tribal group of young Manobo’s from the Municipality of Prosperidad in Agusan del Sur. All of the hostage perpetrators were minors. The hostage victims were teachers, parents and innocent elementary school students who were attending a public school graduation in a remote uptown Barangay.

The reason was an offshoot to a government none fulfillment to a previous agreement of land property dispute and inter tribal violent conflagration that incarcerated a tribal leader “for another crime that also resulted to a previous hostage taking of 79 persons in the year 2009”. Legally, there should have been no agreement at all in the first place if there was a crime committed unless innocence is established and resolved by the court.

After a marathon negotiation and nerve trading that sidelines our national government and police officials from their busy schedules in the national capital region, the crisis was resolved without a bloodshed and violence. Not after some concessions and government assurance were signed. All hungry and sickly hostages were released unharmed.

But the incident hugs the headlines for five days and captured the anxiety of the public and the foreign community on the peace and order situation of this country. The national leadership breathed fresh air from the peaceful resolution of the conflict. Never mind if time and government resources were wasted as long as loss of lives were prevented. It was lesson No. 2 for the Aquino government in handling a hostage situation.

What are the concessions agreed and promised? Only those that who signed the documents and received copies really knows until a next hostage taking takes place shall the content of the agreement be made public. Those agreements must either be legal or fulfilled?

But there is logic and reasons that meets the public eye on the background of the issues and treatment of the cultural minorities in Agusan del Sur. The incident could have been prevented if and when the equal protection to our laws and respect to tribal ancestral domain has been resolved in accordance with Article X11, Section 5, of the Philippine Constitution that provides that “the state subject to the provisions of the Constitution and national development policies and progress shall protect the rights of indigenous cultural communities to their ancestral lands to ensure their economic, social and cultural well being”. The implementation of the laws under Republic Act No. 8371, otherwise known as the “Indigenous Peoples Right s Act of 1997” is not clear and resolved in favor of the cultural minorities.

Many of the vast tracts of forest land in Mindanao are awarded to illegal loggers, ranchers and industrial agricultural planters. It has displaced the minorities and left a protracted struggle and agitation for discontent over the deprivation of many of our tribes that lives in the mountains of Mindanao from their ancestral lands. Exploitation of the natural resources and land grabbing often displaced the cultural minorities from their community dwellings and affects their livelihood. A situation most welcomed by the left to expound their cause and gain sympathy and foothold in the countryside.

The Manobo’s are the biggest of the ethnic groups in the Philippines in terms of their relationships and name of groups that belongs to this family of more than 749,042 in population from the 1994 census of the National Statistics Office occupying the areas from Sarangani to the Mindanao mainland in the provinces of Surigao, Agusan del Sur, Davao and Bukidnon.

They have adapted to the various ecological niches in the interiors of Mindanao. Their orientation is upland farming, hunting, handicrafts and gathering of trees for industrial use. Their rich culture in weaving and tapestry are arts to behold and helps connect the present generation of Filipinos to the past. It is a great source of eco-tourism and pride. Ped T. Quiamjot.

Mantangale: One of Asia’s best house reefs

BusineesWeek Mindanao
By Joe Palabao

THE Mantangale of Misamis Oriental, which boasts of a view south of the Bohol sea and Camiguin island right across, has one of Asia’s best house reefs.

These house reefs are within the 1.6 million square kilometers stretch land area of the BIMP-EAGA equator asia which is claimed to be “mother’s earth true center of biodiversity.”

Mantangale is now considered as a “swing destination” of Northern Mindanao for scuba diving, wreck diving, cavern diving and underwater breathtaking world experience where tourists can take pictures and view the marine trove of coral gardens.

Catering to the needs of the domestic and foreign tourist dive enthusiasts is the Mantangale Alibuag Dive Resort.

Established since 1994, Mantangale Resort has world class amenities for domestic and foreign tourists. They have licensed dive instructors to cater the needs for basic scuba diving and many other related underwater activities and underwater photography.

Mantangale Alibuag Dive Resort of Misamis Oriental, Camiguin Island, Misamis Occidental Aqua Marine Park, (MOAP) of Sinacaban, Misamis Occidental, Cagayan de Oro River Rafting, Pikalawag Beach Resort, of Sultan Naga Dimaporo of Lanao del Norte, Lake Apo of Guinoroyan, Valencia City and Pulangi River of Bukidnon are among the best seven Swing Destinations in Mindanao for domestic and foreign tourist to enjoy and are within the BIMP-EAGA 1.6 million square kilometers land area branded as Equator Asia-The Heart of Biodiversity.

In these destinations are found vast marine treasure trove coral gardens, calm crystal water, white sand and turquoise blue waters, best house reefs, marine farm consisting of mangroves, hatcheries, fishpens, hotel facilities, swimming with the dolphins.

Lakes that display grandeur and tranquility amidst its mossy green surrounding. The River System that maintains its ecological biodiversity amidst being tapped to supply power and white water rafting while seeing the striking beautiful panoramic view of the river’s rocky walls.

In a recently concluded Mindanao-Palawan Subregion BIMP-EAGA Joint Tourism Development Cluster Strategic Planning held in Kota Kinabalu these Swing Destinations of Region X along with Regions 1X and X111 will be the next target for eco-tourism biodiversity development for 2012.

The development of these Swing Destinations is to invigorate the support of Tourism Ministers of the member nations focused areas of BIMP-EAGA to include the eco-tourism development of Mindanao and Palawan, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia (Province of Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Maluku and Irian Java), Malaysia (Sarawak and Federal Territory of Labuan} and State of Sabah.

Eco-tourism development in the BIMP-EAGA sub region is aimed to facilitate and strengthen global promotions and marketing efforts in establishing and making BIMP-EAGA as the leading ecotourism destination in Southeast Asia.

These eco-tourism destinations of BIMP-EAGA are within the 1.6 million square kilometers land area branded as Equator Asia-The Heart of Biodiversity.

Mindanao development framework completed

BusinessWorld Online
September 13, 2010

THE NATIONAL Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) has submitted to Malacañang a proposed framework to guide development initiatives in Mindanao for the next 10 years.

In a statement yesterday, NEDA said the framework pushes three directions, namely: sustainable resource-based industrialization, improved employment generation and establishment of an efficient logistics system. It also focuses development on six fields, namely: halal, agro-industry, eco-tourism, renewable energy, mining and information and communication technologies.

NEDA Deputy Director-General Augusto B. Santos said in a phone interview yesterday that the framework will provide inputs to the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan 2011-2016. He added that other regions are drafting similar frameworks, though involving a shorter time frame.