Mindanao’s Next Big Thing
MINDANAO’S NEXT BIG THING
Misamis Oriental Governor Bambi Emano capitalizes on the province’s natural beauty and harnesses its tourism potential
BY MARCO NICANOR
PHOTOS COURTESY OF PROVINCIAL TOURISM OFFICE OF MISAMIS ORIENTAL
White sand beaches and breathtaking waterfalls, lush mountains and exciting caves, rich marine
ecosystem and pristine dive spots — these are but a glimpse of what Misamis Oriental has to offer. Gifted with so much natural beauty, abundant resources, and easily accessible terrain and geography, the province, nestled in the northern part of Mindanao, is primed to becoming the next major ecotourism
destination of the country. Such are the challenges and opportunities given to Governor Yevgeny Vicente
“Bambi” Emano, who has prioritized the development and strengthening of its tourism program, since taking the helm of the province.
“Our province is so blessed with tourist destinations: we have two hot springs, two white islands, numerous beaches, more than 70 waterfalls, abundant agriculture, vast variety of fish species (around 80% of the world’s fish species can be found in Misamis Oriental), and more. Imagine the kind
of economic activity we could generate for the people and the province once tourism is fully realized,” says Emano, explaining Misamis Oriental’s vast raw potential.
ENABLING SUCCESS IN TOURISM
One of the most pivotal moves by the governor was issuing a memorandum which formalized the
creation of a department dedicated to tourism. Atty. Jeffrey Saclot, the first and incumbent head
of the provincial tourism department, reveals that Governor Emano takes his flagship tourism
program seriously, allowing it to have its own budget and department to make it more effective
in seeking out and developing new tourism sites.
He further shares how they empower municipalities by turning over tourism projects after they have created the necessary structures and facilities to make it operational and attractive to tourists. The tourism department also ensures that tourism sites are properly maintained and well managed.
The good governor highly commends his tourism team and Saclot for doing what should be
rightfully done for tourism in the province.
REASSURING PEACE AND ORDER
Governor Emano admits that there are lots of challenges in promoting tourism in the area. One of the most glaring is the issue of Mindanao’s security. He acknowledges that part of addressing the challenge in
tourism is informing the people that Misamis Oriental is a place where peace and order prospers.
He observes, “Media sometimes sensationalizes the news; even if the conflict zone is only in a part of Mindanao, tomorrow’s headlines will read ‘War in Mindanao,’ as if we are at war in all of Mindanao.”
The head of tourism also adds that even when there was a war going on, “immediately after the declaration of Martial Law, Miss Earth still went on with their visit to the province and saw for themselves that peace and security were well maintained in the area.” He also admits that there was a brief period when many cancelled their flights due to the then ongoing conflict. But he also noted that because of the
successful operations of the military and the police, the people were reassured and tourism has continued to flourish ever since.
SUSTAINING TOURISM GROWTH
Emano is positive that Misamis Oriental is headed in the right direction because every quarter, there are
new resorts mushrooming in the province. He says, “This year alone, there are four new beach resorts opening up in the province, complete with hotel and facilities, in Laguindingan, Tagum, Initao, and Talisayan. For a businessman to open a resort, which is not cheap and easy to operate, they, too, see
and believe in the potential of the tourism industry in our province.