Table Talk: A choice for Zambo City PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 24 November 2011 14:08

BY Mike S Apostol

Aside from branding our city as “the only Latin City in Asia” to cater  to our global tourism market, what other choice has the city made to entice foreign and domestic tourists? Perhaps it is high time that the city government should embark on a new direction for the global market, to boost the economy of the city via our tourism potential amidst a condition of unstable peace and order situation.

It sounds crazy, but it can be done if only the city will pool all its bright minds together and move in one direction. If we can say “no” that will sound like “yes” then the difference is just the same.
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Sitting down at the bar in Hanazono Japanese Restaurant the other night over a couple of light beers, the topic was, Zamboanga City and her tourism potential. Many agree that we should be competitive, but develop to the fullest what can only be found in Zamboanga City and select the best among the best tourist spots and spend money to develop and make it competitive with other tourist spots in the country with international standards. It is expensive but you have to invest money to earn money.
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Davao City was able to market their tourism potential because they have a whole year round of durian, bananas, yellow fin tuna, all sorts of homemade sweets, pineapple fruits etc. even during those times when killing and shooting was a daily occurrence when the city was cleansing her streets of communist rebels. Cebu City was able to market its fine beaches, sea and mountain resorts, fine dining and a 24 hours of “pochero” everywhere. In Bohol and Dumaguete, mountain and sea resorts are sprouting almost  all over the province since it can be reached in a few hours from Dipolog and Dapitan City in Zamboanga Del Norte. Cagayan de Oro City’s thrilling river rafting is now gaining popularity and many are visiting CDO to try it. Camarines Sur in Southern Luzon is way ahead in all sorts of resorts and native dishes catering to foreigners. Palawan’s caves and coves and sea resorts are the only tourist attractions they have but you can only find it in Palawan and it is the best and the former leper colony is long gone and forgotten.
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We cannot compete with established tourist cities like Baguio or Boracay in Aklan, but, what they have you can find them in the city. In Barangay La Paz, the temperature is not only similar to Baguio but it is like Baguio. We don’t have rice terraces but we have forests and woodlands in La Paz that is covered by fog at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and it is so wide and as far as you can see.  70 percent of the fresh vegetables sold in the city come from La Paz because of its cool climate like Benguet and Baguio. In Luzon up to the farthest provinces of Cagayan and Tuguegarao City, including Baguio, Benguet and Abra , all the highways are concreted class A, so tourists enjoy their ride while looking at the scenery. We have it here in the East and West coasts of the city, but to go there and see the sceneries especially La Paz is torture because of the very bad roads.
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We have better beaches, rocks and cliffs better than Boracay, but it is not developed. Even the pink sands of Sta. Cruz. We have the Eleven Islands in the East Coast which is 100 % better than Boracay. Some of the islands are blessed with cool rivers and springs but it is not only infested by dangerous insects but by lawless elements and bandits who made the Eleven islands their sanctuary like “Ali Baba and his forty thieves.”
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The best potential for Zamboanga City in all aspect is its watershed. They say “water is life” and Zamboanga City has all the water but not harnessed to the fullest. In the entire country there are only three big and wide watersheds left and Zamboanga city is one of them and the largest, aside from Aurora, Quezon Province and Bukidnon province. Given and blessed with this natural wealth and where water is abundant, yet, forest rangers are so few and ill equipped to guard and protect our watershed from poachers and illegal loggers and lately illegal gold miners. The city will benefit from the water sources, like oil from the grounds of the Middle East. Who knows if our watershed will be developed by the national government in consortium with the city government and built a dam of commercial value we can do business with the desert countries of Middle East like, “water for oil or oil for water”, if we can import oil from the Middle East for our refineries with super tankers we believe we can also export water with the same process. Right now we are importing from France Evian bottled volcanic water, what is the difference?
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Scoop: Is it true that the tourism budget of the city is so meager not enough for marketing and promotion and controlled by one person who decides what to do with it? How and where to spend it? Perhaps it is time to redirect the city’s objectives because we are lagging behind in tourism by twenty years from Dipolog City alone. Come to think of it.