SANTO TOMAS, Davao del Norte (October 21, 2021)—The construction of the tourist center in Sitio Talos, Barangay San Jose may begin as soon as the construction staking is conducted on October 26 with the engineering personnel from the Santo Tomas LGU, Provincial Engineering Office and private contractor Jagger Enterprise.
Construction staking is taking planned improvements and buildings, and then actually mapping them out on the site where the building will take place. It plays a vital role in preparing the plans and blueprints to actual construction work.
On Thursday, mayor Ernesto Evangelista said the construction of the tourist center is crucial to his administration’s community-based tourism program as it is expected to beef up tourism activity in the said area.
“Atong gina-expect na kining tourist center na itukod diri sa Sitio Talos, maduso pa ang programang turismo na atong ginapromote ilabi na ang Lantawan Ni Bakoko isip usa ka local tourist attraction sa lungsod sa Santo Tomasm” Evangelista said at the sideline of the turning-over ceremony of Davao Light Company’s playground facility to the Santo Tomas LGU on Thursday afternoon.
Evangelista added that his tourism program highlights the importance of involving local people in tourism development to ensure and encourage people to preserve their culture, traditions and protect the environment.
Municipal Information Officer Mart Sambalud, who also acts as the Tourism Officer-Designate of the Santo Tomas LGU, said the community-based tourism program of Evangelista administration came into fruition when in 2019 started the development of Lantawan ni Bakoko in Sitio Talos and positioned it as the town’s premier local tourist destination.
“At the very core of our Community-Based Tourism Program is to account the increasing participation of our Indigenous Peoples in Sitio Talos in our tourism development programs and projects. We need to involve them so that they have a sense of collectiveness and ownership. Their participation is imperative and mas nindot if ang komunidad mismo ang nakasabot sa proseso, sa direksyon ug sa mga programa na naay kalambigitan sa mga kalihukan sa turismo,” Sambalud said.
Sambalud said the development of Lantawan ni Bakoko and the active participation of the Ata-Manobo community was a successful implementation of a Community-based Tourism Program.
He added that the Department of Tourism XI now recognises Lantawan ni Bakoko as one of the local tourism circuits in the Davao region.
Sambalud pointed out that IP youth, men and women were trained, organized, capacitated and empowered to do their various tasks in the tourism value chain locally.
“The reason why we opted to implement CBT is that we want this program to serve also as a poverty-alleviating tool. This means that the involvement and cooperation of the Ata-Manobo community are essential in stimulating economic activities in the area,” he said.
He added that whatever economic benefits derived from the implementation of the CBT, it should trickle down even to the poorest member of the Ata-Manobo community.
Sambalud said that CBT is being replicated in various barangays with Senior Tourism Officer Dorina Ararao leading the development and implementation of the programs.
Ararao spearheaded the development of potential tourist attractions in various barangays, namely: Suba Ni Bukindaw in Barangay New Visayas, Mt. Susuping in Barangay Balagunan, Mt. Tulayas in Barangay Balagunan, among others.
“All these are works in progress. More than the objective of contributing to economic growth, I think we need to emphasize that tourism development projects and programs are sustainable and equitable and that the community should benefit from the implementation of these programs,” Sambalud, the tourism officer-designate said.
Sambalud also thanked the leadership of Municipal Administrator Atty. Elisa Evangelista-Lapiña who was the brainchild of the CBT programs of the Santo Tomas LGU and the development of the emerging local tourist spots across the municipality of Santo Tomas.
IP consent secured
In April 7, 2021, the proponents of the P3,000,000-worth tourist centre conducted a field-based consultation to secure a certification that they acquired the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) of the Ata-Manobo residents in the area.
The Municipal Government of Santo Tomas headed by Mayor Ernesto Evangelista and the Provincial Government of Davao del Norte headed by Governor Edwin Jubahib were the proponents of the tourism infrastructure project constructed in an ancestral land owned by the Ata-Manobo.
The tourist center was one of the tourism development projects of the Jubahib administration in Davao del Norte in support to the tourism program of the Evangelista administration aimed at reviving the tourism industry in Santo Tomas, and providing sustainable livelihood for the indigenous people’s in Sitio Talos, Barangay San Jose.
The project was under the auspices of the Provincial Tourism Offices headed by Dr. Noel Daquioag, the Provincial Tourism Officer.
Daquioag and his team, together with the National Commission On Indigenous Peoples – Davao del Norte, conducted a one-day field-based consultation on the free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
Invited to the FPIC activity were the 12 Ata-Manobo tribe leaders, NCIP Davao del Norte FPIC Focal Person Ms. Rhodora Braganza, IPMR of Santo Tomas Datu Doming Tumaytay, IPMR of Barangay San Jose Datu Jepee Ompocanon, Councilor Lychyl Castrodes who chairs the Committee on Tourism and Board Member Janet Tanong-Maboloc who also chairs the Committee on Tourism in the Sangguniang Panglungsod. ###